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A glimpse of the inspiring people and stories of the maritime industry.

Merry Time in Maritime Industry: The Gift of Traineeships

For many, graduation brings joy, enthusiasm, and celebration, which also marks the first step into one of the most important and formative journeys of our lives. This is the time where students put all of their energy into fulfilling their career ambitions and dreams.

Yet, the year 2020 was disrupted with the COVID-19 pandemic, and along with it came a recession that resulted in increased unemployment rates across the world. Therefore, it is with no surprise that many fresh graduates are worried about job hunting in these uncertain times.

We spoke to two of our fresh graduates who had taken up some of the 200 SGUnited Traineeships1 offered by Singapore’s maritime industry, in partnership with the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore – Tiffany Lee, Trainee Executive from Jurong Port; and Amiruddin Akhtar, Crewing Executive Trainee from POSH Fleet Services. Introduced by the Ministry of Manpower and Workforce Singapore as part of SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package, the SGUnited Traineeships Programme serves to provide recent graduates with up to 9 months of practical work experience which will help boost the graduates’ employability when the economy recovers.

A step into the maritime industry

After completion of her final exams in April, Tiffany, an Environmental Earth Systems Science major from the Nanyang Technological University, was eager to make her mark in the Environmental Sciences industry. Never did she expect to face such a competitive job market, which was further exacerbated with fewer-than-usual entry-level vacancies. She recalled her job search process as challenging and difficult, but quickly learnt about the traineeship programmes in the maritime industry through the MyCareersFuture portal where she first considered exploring maritime career options.

Tiffany was excited to land her first job as a Trainee Executive with Jurong Port’s Environmental Strategy Department

“I felt that traineeships were a good way to gain relevant experience and to also try out a niche industry.”

Whilst Tiffany did not have a maritime background, she recognised the importance of exploring and keeping track of trends across different industries where her skillsets might be cross-relevant. Luckily, the maritime industry offered her a ‘sea of opportunities’ to expand her career options. At Jurong Port, Tiffany is currently involved in multiple projects related to research and analysis, building business analytical tools such as PowerBI dashboards that provide data visualisation at a glance, and also planning for Jurong Port’s environmental strategy.

Tiffany on an overseas fieldwork trip at Mount Batur in Bali with her course mates from the graduating class of 2020

Meanwhile, Amir was aiming for a career in tanker shipbroking as a Maritime Business and Maritime Law degree holder from the University of Plymouth. However, like Tiffany, he quickly realised that due to the pandemic and recession, competition in the job market was extremely intense. This was when Amir chanced upon a traineeship opening with POSH Fleet Services on the Maritime Singapore Connect (MSC) website.

Amir as a Crewing Executive with POSH Fleet Services on the #SGUnitedTraineeships programme

“I realised that to even get a job amidst this pandemic was a blessing, which was why I started applying for traineeships as well, in hopes of gaining experience first.”

The gift of a first traineeship

As a previous Maritime Business graduate from Singapore Polytechnic, Amir realised that his diploma had only covered the fundamentals, and that his current role had presented him with many practical and exciting challenges that were outside of his academic studies and experiences.

“Although I took some offshore modules when I was undertaking my diploma, it only covered the basics whereas the working world offered me a lot more to learn. Whenever I came across an issue that I was unsure of, my colleagues and supervisor have been more than willing to share their knowledge and provide mentorship in my job.”

Amir mentioned that his key learnings during his traineeship with POSH Fleet Services thus far included managing the offshore vessel crews from sourcing, recruitment and scheduling to other areas such as training and evaluation. In addition, he also had the opportunity to look into developing and implementing crew strategies, using a myriad of market research avenues and surveys.

Despite having a maritime background, Amir continues to pick up valuable skills in his current role

“While I have only been working for less than a month, from the scope of work that I have been entrusted with, I can expect to take away a greater amount of technical knowledge of the offshore industry through direct experience. I have also acquired human resource management skills in managing shipping crews from diverse backgrounds. These skills will definitely prove valuable in my future career as I climb further up the corporate ladder.”

In Tiffany’s case, she shares that her role has uncovered some new perspectives for her.

“Because of my background in environmental science, they gave me a project that allowed me to leverage on my prior academic knowledge and data skillsets. This helped me realise that transferable skills are extremely crucial for one’s career, especially if it allows for someone to value-add to an organisation from a seemingly unrelated tangent.”

As a Trainee Executive, Tiffany works closely with her team and supervisor

Tiffany was able to adapt to her role despite the challenges of having to adjust to new colleagues and team dynamics without the benefit of face-to-face interactions beforehand. “The key takeaway is to keep an open mind and keep learning,” she says. She is confident that the skillsets learnt here can be readily transferred to other roles in the maritime industry and enable smooth transitioning to other departments.

Both Amir and Tiffany spoke fondly of their co-workers, especially those more experienced in the maritime industry. Tiffany’s supervisor, meanwhile, commended her for her willingness to learn, her diligence and meticulous approach and her personal initiative.

“She has been an asset to the team thus far,” her supervisor surmised.

As for Amir, his supervisor considers him a reliable team member – one who demonstrates commitment and perseverance.

“Amir thinks out of the box and uses his imagination to come up with relevant solutions and produce fresh ideas for the POSH Taskforce.”

Working with his teammates has helped Amir transit smoothly into the traineeship programme

Discovering new horizons

The maritime industry is crucial to global trade, ensuring efficiency and reliability in global supply chains for goods and services. Furthermore, Singapore’s role in global trade is of extra importance due to its status as one of the world’s leading maritime hubs. While COVID-19 has brought about hardships for fresh graduates seeking to start their careers, an SGUnited Traineeships Programme in the maritime industry offers an exciting opportunity for dynamic career experiences and future growth opportunities, even during turbulent times.

For Tiffany, she took the leap of faith to secure a position in the maritime industry despite being from a totally different background, and now advises fellow graduates to keep an open mind when shortlisting ideal industries, with relevance to one’s broader interests.

“Just keep swimming! There’s a whole ocean of knowledge to explore, and what you have learnt previously as an undergraduate might only be a drop in the ocean.”

Amir agrees with this sentiment, adding that his biggest takeaway is to constantly stay updated with the latest industry trends and re-prioritise his target list of skillsets and knowledge based on growing sectors.

“Broaden your search and always consider the extraordinary, instead of sticking to what you are comfortable with during this current situation!”

If Tiffany’s and Amir’s stories resonate with you, you can visit the MSC website to discover the myriad of maritime opportunities available over this festive season!

#makemaritimeyourportofcall

1. For more information on the SGUnited Traineeship Programme, please refer to this link.

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The Maritime Singapore Connect (MSC) Office is a national initiative, supported by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, to profile the maritime industry and connect students and jobseekers with the multiple pathways into the industry.

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