Work Experience: Quality vs Quantity

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When it comes to yachting, what is more important: the quality of your work or the time spent in the business? I guess this could easily be asked of corporate jobs as well,  but I’ve been finding that yacht captains and hiring managers put too much emphasis on years of experience. Experiences in yachting can all be quite varied, from the hectic to the not so busy…the diverse to the monotonous. A year for one person could actually feel like 3 for another. For example,  I left my corporate job of 10 years to pursue yachting, and in a short span of time I’ve quickly gotten a handle on many aspects – private, charter, yard period, setting up a program from scratch,  budgeting/yacht accounting, dealing with contractors, managing junior staff, floral arranging, housekeeping,  laundry,  line handling,  inventory management,  the list goes on. Meanwhile, I know of friends who spent the same amount of time doing about 70% laundry and 30% service with no idea how to handle the situations I’ve been thrown into. I’ve even met people with years of experience who are not yet confident enough to step up to a senior role. So when candidates are hired,  how could we all be measured off the same standard of “years of experience”?

For land-based jobs, the old adage of staying at one job for years is virtually unheard of anymore. I hate to blame it on our generation’s inability to focus, but I know that I can speak for myself and close friends that we’ve become the “jack/jill of all trades” and have flourished. Stability be damned! Surely, the candidates with a diverse background and unique expertise is more valued over someone who’s been at the same job with little or no growth/challenges? I understand that at a certain point in your career, longevity would be valued — perhaps at the more senior levels. However, for entry to mid-level jobs, looking at skills gained, ability to adapt, and showing initiative should be valued over tenure. Am I alone in feeling this? Do you disagree? Would love to hear your thoughts.

Yacht Jobs: Is Big Always Better?

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I like big yachts and I cannot lie, you other yachties can’t deny…when a sleek tri-deck pulls in with a shiny new hull you get sprung. OK, cheesy sir mix-a-lot anthem aside, I do enjoy a large yacht. But is bigger (yacht, company, etc) always better when it comes to finding the right fit for you? Deciding between a large or small yacht is not too dissimilar from deciding between a corporate vs a small startup job. Each opportunity offers it’s own pros and cons, and each an entirely different beast. Here’s a few observations I’ve noticed, and again…quite uncanny how similar it is when comparing land-based jobs. Can’t decide which opportunity is better for you? Take a look below and let me know what you think!

Large yacht (130ft+) pros:

  • More people to interact/socialize with as crew sizes are larger
  • Larger yacht = more crew space/comfort
  • Established/regular work hours and break times as the work load is shared
  • Structure – Well defined job functions and chain of command
  • Bigger budgets with more crew benefits (ie, health plan, gym, etc.)
  • Larger yachts run like a business and often have management companies (both pro and con, depending on the responsiveness of the management company)

Large yacht cons:

  • Potentially more politics/drama with more crew
  • Higher crew turnover (see above)
  • Micromanaging supervisors/captains
  • More defined roles with less opportunity to grow in other departments
  • Larger yachts run like a business and often have management companies (both pro and con, depending on the responsiveness of the management company)

Small yacht (smaller than 130ft) pros:

  • Great for self-starters who enjoy fast-paced environments
  • Flexible work schedule
  • Closer team/family dynamic
  • Ability to interact more with owners/charter guests
  • Help in other departments and expand knowledge beyond your job description
  • Judicial use of the yacht property (tender, hot tub, etc) – this depends completely on your owners and captain, but noticed it’s less strict on smaller yachts
  • When possible, crew members pitch in from time to time (ie, deck help interior and vice versa)

Small yacht cons:

  • Smaller social pool (less diversity and virtually nonexistent social circles)
  • Limited space and shared showers for entire crew (the horror!)
  • Less help/support from a larger team while providing the same amount of service (ie, interior crew of 1 vs interior crew of 3-5+ on larger yachts)
  • Longer hours and less breaks (because it’s just you)
  • Your department’s work responsibilities fall 100% on you
  • Not great for people who need a lot of training and structure, better suited for people more established or with at least SOME experience

 

Fellow yachties, what do you think? Do you prefer working on larger or smaller vessels? My desk buddies, do you prefer working for larger companies or smaller companies?

How to Start Making a Change

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By now the winter snows have started to thaw back home, and spring awakens thoughts of change and new challenges. I had a chat with one of my oldest girlfriends about change. So many people choose to stay in a life they are unhappy with, and refuse to make a change and continue running in auto-pilot. Years seem to fly by and the shoulda, coulda, wouldas keep piling up. If you’re serious about it, stop your complaining and MAKE A PLAN. It takes a great deal of self awareness, bravery, and growth to commit to making a change and reaching happiness. Spring is a perfect time to reflect on your previous year — what challenges affected the “winters” of your life and what kinds of opportunities and goals motivate you? For some people, they always know what they eventually want to do and flow right into their next step (lucky!), but for most of us we need a framework to make positive changes or at least a gentle reminder to remember: What are we doing this for? For me, I’m a very logical person and I make most decisions in spreadsheets (that’s normal, right?). When I was deciding last winter what direction my life was going to take, I hit the sheets and made myself a “Next Step Decision Matrix”. Honestly there is absolutely zero scientific basis for this, but it’s been a helpful exercise to get some thoughts in writing to help identify your motivations and values. Hope this is helpful to some people:

Step 1: Identify Another Course of Action

If you’re not happy in your current state, what other opportunities could you see yourself in? For me, my options were work at a start-up, continue in corporate but a different role, or work on a yacht.

Step 2: Make a Weighted Pro/Con List

List out the pros and cons for each option and weight each point on a 1-10 scale in terms of how much of a positive or negative it is for you. My example below for yachting, but I’ve repeated this for “Corporate” and “Start-up” as well.

Yacht Stewardess

Pros

Scale (1 low-10 high) Cons Scale (1 low-10 high)
No living expenses 10 Could be difficult to meet someone or have a regular dating life 10
Save money 9 Long hours 7
Travel the world 10 Work is perceived as menial and labor intensive 8
29   25
Score 4 Subtract Cons from Pros score

Tally up the pro and con columns, and then subtract the cons from the pros, and you’ll end up with a total weighted score. Do this across all your possible scenarios and then you’ll have a number to compare across all your options. In this case, yachting had the highest score for me.

Step 3: Compare Probability Against Motivations

Next, I listed all points that were motivating/important to me and compared it against each of my options. Low living expense and travel were obviously high on my list. I listed according to how probable each point was, 1 being the least likely with 10 being the most likely.

Yacht Start-Up Corporate
Low Living Expenses 10 3 3
Money Making 7 8 9
Respected 5 8 8
Travel 9 4 5
Flex work hours 3 7 4
Long term potential 5 8 8
Score 39 38 37

In the end, yachting beat out my other options across these exercises. I still had my doubts, but it was enough to get me jump-started to make a plan once I knew what I wanted to go after. As the saying goes, if you’re not happy with your life….change it!

Pick One: Be Happier by Letting Go

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I recently had a conversation about finding the “perfect” job with a veteran yachtie, and what he said rang true far beyond the sunny decks of yachting. The idea of “having it all” and striving for our definition of a perfect situation is not only unrealistic, it can be quite detrimental to our ultimate pursuit of happiness. It’s a theme that feels oddly familiar (one I’ve constantly struggled with in corporate life), and he confirmed my suspicions that this elusive life/situation is in fact a wild goose chase.

The conversation can be summed up like this: If there are key pillars in any job/situation, there will always be something NOT ideal. For example, in yachting the pillars are A) Owners B) Captain/Crew C) Salary and D) Itinerary. You may find a job with the right pay, great owners, but a horrible captain. Or you can find a fantastic itinerary with a great crew but a nightmare owner….you get the point. The key is to pick the one pillar you can live without. What is the one missing link you’re ok to do without? Accepting this will inevitably lead to a healthier perspective and possibly keep us from chasing our own shadow. It’s more about focusing on what you do have and accepting that it’s ok not to have everything.

This is certainly true for land life as well. For me, it was A) Job B) Friends C) Apartment D) Significant other. You could have your dream job, a fantastic apartment with great friends, but no boyfriend to speak of. Or it’s having that amazing significant other and friends but stuck in a job you hate. When one aspect of your life seems to fall into place, another one seems to slip away. It’s maddening! This constant need to attain perfection is something I still struggle with, and here is this guy casually throwing down wisdom and perspective. Schooled.

I suppose you can further break it down to pretty much anything in life – pillars of the ideal ______. Next time you find yourself in an endless pursuit of the “perfect” anything, stop and take stock of the key pillars and decide which is ok to let go for the sake of overall sanity and happiness?

Life Before and After Yachting

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When I decided to take the plunge almost a year ago to leave the comforts of a desk job to pursue a career in yachting, I had no idea how much my life would change. From the significant to the mundane, there are many things that I find interesting, funny, and inspiring about life on board and the job. Here are top 10 differences in life before and after yachting:

1. The office views

The view at a desk job..

The “office” views on a yacht…

2. The commute

Some variation of this every morning in the city

Waking up on a yacht and being already at work has it’s perks

3. However, the showers…

On land, easy breezy #somuchroom #ilovedancingintheshower

Showers on yachts…well, let’s just say it helps that I’m small

4. Oh, and the beds

Waking up in a real bed on land…glorious

Trying to get out of bed on a yacht (crew quarters) #2oldforbunkbeds

5. Personal space

Land life #spacefordays On a yacht…#icanseeyourpores

6. A typical Monday

Ugh, muuuundays

Monday boat ride…

7. Cooking

The disaster that is my cooking skills

Having a chef on board has changed my life

8. Cost of living

Paying the landlord each month #citylife Living on a yacht for free feels pretty great

9. Working out

Motivation zero

It’s always easier when you can do this

10. Winter season

Typically means snow, ice, slush

But it’s always sunny working on a yacht!

The Hardest Part About Working On A Yacht

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Sure the glorious views, sunshine and exotic locales all sound enticing while you read this from your desk on a gloomy Wednesday, but trust me when I say that living and working on a yacht has its downsides. In a sentence, “yachting is what happens when you wish you could be making plans.”

Making plans further than 24hrs in advance is nearly impossible. I can’t tell you how many weddings,  birthdays, and epic reunions I’ve missed out on because of scheduling conflicts with the yacht. I know my fellow yachties have all been there! But hey, if your job wants you to be “on call” and leave at a moment’s notice,  you have to oblige.  Of course I anticipated this, but months of fomo and actual missing out can still get to a girl — I’m only human.  Gone are the days I could plan vacations (what’s that? ) and even dinners in advance.  I know my lovely land-based friends try their best to understand when I cancel my trip with them for the 100th time, but I know it can take a toll on even the most solid relationships. Consider this an open apology letter. Dear friends, I love you and wish I could be there for your (insert life milestone here). You know my heart is with you on dry land.

For those of you considering a career in yachting, I just want to be honest with you: Life on board is full of hard work, fun, and excitement,  but if you’re used to routine and planning, you will find this aspect difficult. With that said, the silver lining to all this is that it forces you to truly live in each moment and take things one day at a time. All I can do is breathe deep and keep on keepin on.

I’m curious,  how well do you deal with these situations? Would you be able to live each day at a moment’s notice?

Constructing the “Perfect” Yacht CV

Construct the perfect yacht cv
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Now you know the basics of getting started in yachting, you have to put together a yacht CV, or “curriculum vitae”. For anyone leaving land-based jobs who are used to the resume, the biggest difference is the presence of a photo. Unsurprisingly, the yachting/luxury industry is superficial. They want to hire good looking, clean-cut and well-presented individuals. HONEST TRUTH: The photo is about 50% of what gets you noticed among the stack of other CVs.

Although each crew agent (similar to headhunters/recruiters) will want you to use their own CV format, most captains will be happy with all the relevant information laid out clearly and efficiently. Check out my sample yacht CV below. It’s far from “perfect”, but it’s worked pretty well for me. The length is usually a few pages, but newbie’s CVs are ok to be only one page, especially if yacht experience is limited.

Yacht CV template

In addition to the sample above, here are some do’s and don’ts to use as a guide.

DOs

✓ Do look the part! You should be wearing a polo shirt/button-down, smiling, and preferably with a boat in the background in your CV photo.
✓ Do spellcheck your CV! You can’t claim a “high attention to detail” and misspell everything.
✓ Do highlight what is unique about YOU that will help you stand out. Unique hobbies? Special talents?
✓ Do include a customized cover letter in your email to a job posting.
✓ Do limit any land-based work unless it directly adds to the position you’re applying for.

DON’Ts

✘ Don’t include a selfie pic, it’s just not professional.
✘ Don’t include your life story, captains have precious little time for fluff.
✘ Don’t be too narrowly focused on what you want if you’re a newbie. (i.e., “I want a seasonal job on a private motor yacht larger than 100 ft that goes to the Mediterranean.”) You want to seem open to opportunity, and can also consider a hybrid role such as “stew/deck” or “stew/chef.”
✘ Don’t forget to include all yachting references from your day work.
✘ Don’t exaggerate/lie about your experience. You will quickly be found out.

Hope that was helpful! Next up, job hunting for your first yachtie job.