Female Engineers

Say hello to Jamie, our newbie of the week

By Sarah Smith-Garrison • 03 July 2019

New to the industry

Jamie Sjouerman is 22 years old and new to the yachting industry. She is pursuing a career as an engineer. She has her AEC, PDSD, Elementary First Aid and several RYA qualifications, and is a former electrical and electronic engineering student.
We take 5 minutes with Jamie to get some advice for those starting out in the industry and see how she is getting on.

Q. How did you end up on the Cote d’Azur?
A. When first starting out on my journey in yachting, I found myself drawn to the South of France over other hotspots because I believed the string of ports along the coast, and their easy accessibility via train, would optimise dock walking and day work possibilities. I had also studied French in high school and fancied testing my language skills! The croissants were just an added bonus.

Q. How are you finding it as a female wanting to do a deck job in this industry, has the response been positive or are you finding it a struggle?
A. Honestly, the response has been more positive than I expected! Although I am often mistaken to be a stewardess, I usually enjoy the reactions when I say otherwise, and my CV has more often than not been received with praise.

Q. Any advice to those planning to take their STCW and start a career in yachting?
A. Stay HUMBLE! Nobody likes a greenie who acts like they know more than the veterans! The number one thing that will give you a leg up in this industry is to keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth closed.
As far as preparation goes, a concise and easy to read CV is important as it is the number one thing representing you.
Make sure you’re on the docks bright and early, with enough CVs printed and that you’re ready to work should you be lucky enough to land day work.
Be sure to remove your sunglasses when engaging in conversation with a potential employer!

Have a general idea of what you’re going to say before you approach a yacht, and don’t be shy to wave crew down.
Be polite to EVERYONE on the docks; it’s never a waste of time to chat with other yachties.
Do NOT approach a boat with guests on board! Tell-tale signs are flowers on deck, uncovered cushions and pristine crew.
Register with as many crew agents as possible and take the time to show face and prove to them your determination.
Last but certainly not least, join as many Facebook yachting groups as possible and turn their notifications on.
Troll those pages and agency websites like your career depends on it!

Q. Have you managed to secure any daywork since arriving?
A. Yes, I think I’ve been one of the more successful greenies. Even though I am looking for a position as a deckhand/engineer, I kept all of my options open and have day worked in all areas on board. This has allowed me to befriend many crew members, as well as finance my journey a bit longer. Most of this day work was secured via Facebook.

Q. When are you finding the most positive response for approaching yachts?
A. Morning time has certainly been the most successful for me, although the exact time may be weather dependent. For example, crew tend to be up and working by 8am when the sun is shining, but may be a bit later if the weather is miserable.
Lunch time is for sure a no go, but an afternoon walk may secure you some work for the following day, so it’s always worth it!

Q. Have you found it easy to secure accommodation?
A. Yes fairly, I avoided crew houses from the get-go so as to save some cash, and since I was travelling with my partner, it made Air BnB’s a lot more cost effective. If you can round up some people, I would definitely recommend that, it made budgeting easier and we got to experience a few different suburbs. But if you don’t know anyone in the area, crew houses are a great way to network and make new friends.

Q. Any tips on being savvy with your spending whilst waiting to secure your first job?
A. If you have access to a kitchen, grocery shopping trumps pub grub! Try and plan some meals ahead or share cooking with friends. If you’re not too experienced in the kitchen, now is the time to pull out all those saved food videos. Keep your meals simple and wholesome, and TRY to keep the beers to a minimum! Networking in bars has yielded a lot of success for friends but you do not want to be THAT girl/guy!

Q. Is there anything you wish you had known before arriving to the South of France?
A. Before you leave, UNPACK HALF OF YOUR BAG.
Invest in a week pass for the train (ZOU! Hebdo, these can be personalised). Do NOT buy your SIM card at the airport, seriously.
Make sure all of your chargers fit European sockets.
Invest in polarised sunglasses.
Your feet are your most important asset, bring comfortable walking shoes.
Be prepared to be job hunting for a lot longer than you expect.
You WILL get tired, it’s just a test!

All good advice thankyou Jamie and good luck to you.