The Merchant Navy Career I have always aspired to

Robyn Wadhams-Hall started her Engineering cadetship at the age of 16 in 2006 and has just received her Chief Engineers CoC.  Robyn’s story is an example to any aspiring cadet.

When I was not at school I spent every free moment on my father’s charter fishing boat and also on a local trawler which belonged to a fellow freeman of the Rochester Oyster and Floating Fishery.

It dawned on me that spending the rest of my life behind a desk was not going to happen!

I did not enjoy school that much as it was an all girls’ school. I did not have the option of continuing to do metal work or mechanics as I was the only one that wanted to. It was then that it dawned on me that spending the rest of my life behind a desk was not going to happen!

Having a very nautical background I decided that I needed a career in the Marine Industry. Having spent years maintaining boats I knew that I had to be a Marine Engineer. I searched for weeks online, although it was a family friend who started providing the answers.

I realised that the job was exactly what I wanted to do

I accepted a cadetship through SSTG with P&O Ferries as my sponsor and quite frankly I have never looked back. I was 16 when I started the HND at Warsash Maritime Academy. I certainly was not prepared for the level of work that was thrown at me! Although achieving the required GCSE grades, maths was never my strong point. But I muddled through as I wanted it so badly. Even more so once I started the sea phase and I realised that the real job was exactly what I wanted to do.

I have faced a few people who have been quite negative but that is something you find whatever job you do. The best thing to do is integrate into the environment that you have decided you want to work in, do not try to change it. I have found that I have gained a lot more respect by 'having a laugh with the lads' but always be clear on your boundaries.

I still work for P&O Ferries; they have supported me through both my 2nd's and Chiefs CoC which I passed at the beginning of August. I have no intention to leave; I hope to continue to move up through the ranks.

You will get to meet and work with some exceptional people

I think the most important thing about wanting a career at sea is that you have to be genuinely passionate about it. It is not something you can do because your mum thought it would be a good career for you. You are away for periods of time, you are stuck with the same people day in day out, the work can get really difficult and it’s a very long and hard slog to get to the top. 

You need to be able to drive and motivate yourself to do the absolute best you can. That being said, working at sea is fantastic, the rewards are so worth it, and best of all you will get to meet and work with some exceptional people who will impart their knowledge upon you if you show them that you are interested. 

It has taken me just under 10 years from the start of my cadetship to getting my Chief's CoC. It has not been easy but I would not have it any other way. 

I love my job.

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