“Working in a male dominated industry, I find that the women at the top of the industry are the ones who inspire me the most. There are many women I have met and heard of throughout my career and all of them continue to prove that there is a place for everyone.”
- Name: Miriam Weber
- Job Title: Deck Officer Cadet
- Organisation: Trinity House/Honourable Company of Master Mariners
Can you tell us a little bit about your role?
An Officer cadet is an officer in training. A Deck Officer’s day usually revolves around their watch schedule; this is where we work four hours on and then get eight hours rest. Whilst on watch; the overall safety of crew, the navigation of the vessel and general responsibility for operations on the vessel lies with yourself. This essentially means you are the eyes and ears for the Captain for that period of time and use your judgement to ensure the smooth running of the vessel.
Every day is different and every watch is different, so it is hard to really say what a normal day looks like. Some of the operations on vessels that I have been on include; landing helicopters on deck, navigating notoriously busy shipping channels, and getting stuck into firefighting, medical, or other emergency drills on board.
Working in the middle of the night or early morning can be really tough but officers on vessels usually work only half of the year, most vessels offer their officers two months on ship and two months home (on full pay!).
How did you get to where you are today?
I started in the yachting industry, my initial plan was to be a seasonal worker and then make some money and come home to finish my degree. This, however, turned into two years which turned into applying for, and starting, my cadetship. I enjoyed my time working on deck and feel like it gave me a solid basis to become an officer, however, I wanted to progress my career and I felt the quickest and most effective way to do so was to become an officer cadet instead of gaining my license whilst in industry.
In order to become a cadet, you need maths, english and science at GCSE, that’s for the level 3-4 course. Because I have A-level equivalents (again maths, english and a science is the best) I applied for the level 5 course. For both courses you leave with a license to be an officer on any size ship anywhere in the world.
There are so many companies that can offer you cadetships from cruise companies to oil and gas companies, even the RFA who supply the Royal Navy offer commercial cadetships. Some companies require several interviews and psychometric tests, my process included three interviews and was very simple.
What did you want to be when you were in school?
I wanted to be an astronaut; I loved physics and maths. I went to astronomy camps every summer and just hope that one day I could see the stars from a different angle. This was not where my life went but I think that the wish for adventure is shared between the two career paths. Seeing things that not many people get to see is truly exhilarating and having the responsibility of being an Officer really appeals to me.
Who or what inspires you, and why?
Working in a male dominated industry, I find that the women at the top of the industry are the ones who inspire me the most. There are many women I have met and heard of throughout my career and all of them continue to prove that there is a place for everyone.
I have also met many female deck crew who dominate in terms of their strength and power which inspired me to build up myself up so that I didn’t give anybody a reason to tell me I wasn’t capable as a deckhand.
When did you begin volunteering with Inspiring the Future, and why did you decide to start?
I started volunteering with Inspiring the Future in September 2020. I was already volunteering with Careers at Sea who referred me. I have a strong passion for this industry and truly believe that it is an industry that is underrated as a career in the UK.
Sea blindness is a common phrase used among seafarers which describes the lack of knowledge and understanding people have of how vital this industry is to the whole country. It seems silly to say now, however, before joining the industry I had never really considered the fact that vessels were crewed and that would possibly be a good career path for someone like me.
What Inspiring the Future activities have you participated in so far?
I have participated in seminars with primary school students to talk about my position and what we do. I do enjoy sharing the industry I work in because of how interdisciplinary it is and how there’s a position for people with all different skill sets. You just need the right attitude to handle the ups, downs and extraordinary characters you will find at sea.
How have you benefited from volunteering with Inspiring the Future?
I am gaining more experience and confidence with my public speaking and communication skills. I think it’s also important to develop the understanding of how to communicate industry specific information beyond people who will understand all technical language. I can bring this through my career when needing to deal with people beyond the maritime industry.
What would you say to those thinking of joining our volunteer community? Do you have any tips/ advice?
It’s very easy to sign up and I think the more you do, the easier it becomes. Right now is a great opportunity as we all have a bit more time on our hands and starting online can be a lot less daunting than in person visits.
If you could give one piece of advice to a young person, what would it be?
Never let anyone tell you that something, especially a career or goal, is beyond your reach because of your gender, personality, sexual orientation or anything else.
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