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Marine engineering cadet Sarah Hartley-Rudd discusses the sense of freedom that comes with a career at sea.
What is a typical day in your job?
Onboard a vessel I would start my day at 08:00hrs in the engine room and get on with routine maintenance or urgent maintenance if any machinery is faulty. We had a break at 12:00hrs for lunch and finished the day at 17:00hrs. On a passenger vessel the engine room can never be unattended, so some engineers work on four-hour watches e.g. 04:00 hrs–08:00hrs and 16:00hrs–20:00hrs.
Why did you choose a career at sea?
I have always been interested in a career in engineering and after some research this job offered many benefits: travel, long periods of time at home and meeting many nationalities of people.
I studied A-levels at college then started my foundation degree in marine engineering.
Tell us some of your career highlights so far – and challenges
One of my highlights was visiting Australia, I have always wanted to go, and I visited four ports there. It was amazing to see non-touristy places.
It was difficult to be away from home for so long without a good wifi connection, although in some countries I bought a SIM card to get a better connection.
Onboard I faced some prejudice as a female, for example not letting me do certain tasks because it was 'a man's job'. I think it was more challenging as I was the only female onboard. I had to prove my capabilities as an engineer and show I was willing to do any job, and that lead to me participating in a lot more work.
I had to prove my capabilities as an engineer and show I was willing to do any job, and that lead to me participating in a lot more work Sarah Hartley-Rudd, marine engineer cadet
How can women be made to feel welcome and retained in a career at sea?
I think especially during cadetships female cadets should not be put on vessels without another female as this would make it easier socially.
What are the best things about your job?
Travelling and prospects of great career progression.
Would you recommend seafaring as a career?
I would highly recommend it as it gives a sense of freedom that doesn't come with other careers.
I would like to stay at sea for the foreseeable future and then explore opportunities ashore in the coming years.
Tell us one thing that people may not know about your job
There are many different lengths of contracts offered by different shipping companies, as short as two weeks or more! So, you don't have to be away from home for such long periods.