The season is almost over and I can feel that collective sigh of relief and hear those tired feet doing a little “dance of freedom”; you know, the one you do immediately after the guests have left and you have a few days off! It’s a global dance, done by all nationalities, on yachts all over the world and feels so GOOD!
Green crew are no longer green. Seasonal crew are looking at finishing on their yacht and having freedom to do what they like. Permanent crew are planning their vacation time and crew all over are considering their next move.
For the new crew who have absolutely hated working on a yacht, now is the time to be giving in. Well done you for managing to last the season but it is not a job suited to everyone and despite what anyone says, deciding to quit does not necessarily mean you are a “quitter”. Far better to realise that it is not something you are suited to or like and to work on finding something else where your talents can be better utilised. There are other jobs, industries, places and careers to pursue. Enjoy the cash you have worked hard for and remember that everything you have learned or experienced during the season will be of use to you in the future in one way or another.
New crew who have fallen in love with the job should be brimming over with excitement and enthusiasm for what’s next, albeit through a fog of tiredness. This is your time to take stock of what you have learnt and where you should go from here. For more experienced crew, the end of the season is also a junction where consideration for your next move runs along- side the need to have a break. Here is where the difference between the deckhands and the stewardesses is most obvious.
Deck crew are now busy planning their training as they have made the choice that this is the career for them. Stewardesses are considering whether or not they will work over the winter or take the season off. Nothing wrong with that but what I find sad is that very few will be considering what their next ‘yacht career’ move should be or see working on a yacht as a viable career other than working for a number of years to save money and hoping that their next yacht has nice owners and crew. I know, as that was me for the first few years of my yachting life – killing time while waiting for something better!
If you do love the industry and see it as something other than a seasonal gig, between travelling, what comes next? Is it possible for you to actually have a “career”?
Ten years ago I would have said maybe, if you were willing to forego having children but most likely no. For interior crew the industry was seen as an opportunity to travel, have an adventure and possibly meet guys, maybe even your husband-to-be. Sounds very sexist but that was how it was. Today things are very, very different and with the growth in the industry and the increasing size of vessels, the opportunities for women in yachting have expanded beyond the role of just housekeeping and service. For those who wish to work on deck the opportunities are growing by the day.
For interior crew, this is the time to be bold and to change your way of thinking. On the right yacht and with a good owner, the role of Steward or Stewardess is no longer being seen as just “women’s” work or inferior to the deck side of things. Senior crew are realising that the interior crew spend the most time with owners and guests, their performance having a greater impact on guest satisfaction as well as being able to influencing guests or soothing irritable owners.
With the inception of the GUEST Program in 2010 and its increasing awareness among crew and captains, there is now a career path and Certification of Competency open to the interior crew. This career path aims to ensure that interior crew who invest in themselves will have a professional accreditation, which is now beginning to be recognised by other industries. In addition, the demand for more specialist services from guests gives rise to the possibility to specialise in a trade that can be taken onshore.
If you are committed to working your way up the ranks in yachting and being taken seriously be senior crew, you need to plan how to get there and not sleep your way there. This means setting goals for yourself and developing a career plan. This can be done at any stage of yachting, even if it is just your first season. Like most things in life, the plan may change over time as your needs change. Our experiences mould us and with each yacht you work on or owner or captain you work for, you will develop new skills which may change your way of thinking.
My personal experience was one of several years wasted as I filled in time waiting for my direction, until one day I landed on a very busy charter boat which had an owner change at the beginning of the season. First time owners, a new captain, back to back charters, a refit, a captain change, numerous crew changes, crossings and yard periods, more captain changes! I had found my niche and what followed next was 10 years of new experiences, challenges, financial gain and HUGE job satisfaction. My biggest regret was that I did not plan for this. If so I would have been happier in my job so much sooner and I would have done as much training as I possibly could to prepare myself.
If you are planning on investing in your training be sure to research what is available to you and make sure everything you do will add benefit to what you can offer a yacht AND yourself as an individual. Your training also needs to be accredited where possible. Cheapest is not always the best OR the worst so be motivated by what is best for you and where you want to go in life – now and for the longer term.
Some of you may be thinking about what the possibilities are for after yachting and where you can take your skills. Close to the end of my career in yachting I had no idea I would end up teaching and since taking up my new career I have met Stewardesses who have gone on to be Interior Designers, Personal Assistants, Villa Managers, Sommeliers, Project Managers; design apps, create online courses and websites; become Event Managers, Yacht Suppliers, Hotel Managers; work in museums, recruitment, shipyards, logistics; as Charter Brokers, Yachting Agents as well as design uniforms, set up a cake making business, life coaching, the list goes on.
Everything you do in yachting can be used elsewhere so with planning, your experience, your training and your talents can take you anywhere you want to go. So go forward in your CAREER with determination and enjoy the journey. For more information about the GUEST Program go to www.guest-program.com