Marine student faces future with excitement and confidence
February 21, 2013

Young woman standing aboard a Great Lakes vessel with water in backgound and blue sky above bow of ship.

Jessica Clement craves adventure and enjoys travelling, so plans to embark upon a marine career.

The Owen Sound Campus of Georgian College is home to the Great Lakes International Marine Training and Training Centre. The centre’s three-year Marine Engineering Technology and Marine Technology – Navigation co-op programs boast a progressive mix of skills training, shipboard training and academic studies like navigation training in our marine simulators. The following is an article by a marine student in the second year of her program.

By Jessica Clement

When I share my career choice with people, responses often vary from one extreme to another: from excitement to confusion.

I was raised in a small Northern Ontario town which relies heavily on the mining industry for employment. Not having much opportunity to experience the marine industry, I was completely unaware of it until my late teens. A family friend introduced me to the idea of working on board ships -since I crave adventure and enjoy travelling.

My studies at Georgian College began in the fall of 2010. Like many other young people entering college, I was overwhelmed with feelings of fear and anxiety, and felt a hesitation toward this new beginning. The low number of female students in my program added to the hesitation I felt. I soon discovered this was not limited to my classroom, but also existed in my career destination. I made a decision to persevere and overcome all obstacles while learning and making positive connections along the way. I accomplished this by immersing myself into the world of work though securing a summer placement co-op.

Co-ops, a cadet’s primary exposure to practical experience in the marine industry, can be difficult. My first placement presented many challenges. I learned that in difficult situations, an individual can and will rise above expectations.

When it came time to embark on a second placement, I found myself more prepared but still felt some trepidation before boarding the vessel. I never imagined how rich and captivating my experiences would prove to be this time. I credit the crew for accepting me as an active member and exposing me to a wide variety of challenges, which in turn cemented my positive outlook of a promising future in the marine industry.

I was recently asked what it was like to be the only woman working on board a ship. There is no simple answer to that question. On board, each person is a valuable member of the crew. Each of us uses our strengths when facing and overcoming challenges. Gender doesn’t play a role.

Today, when I’m asked what my career intentions are, I can respond with excitement and confidence. I now know that if I had allowed other people’s opinions and expectations to shape my future, I would have missed the opportunity of a lifetime.