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  • Is it worth it?

    I need a career, and after some time stumbled upon the Merchant Navy. I looked about and it seemed like a perfect option - travel, responsibility, a clear promotion plan, plenty of time off - what could be wrong? I applied to SSTG yesterday and heard back today, inviting me for an interview. Great.

    The problem is I'm suddenly terrified of it. I have no idea why. Am I simply worried about stepping outside of my comfort zone or is it the wrong choice? I have no problem with leaving home and being away for some time, I've done university before and homesickness never bothered me. I don't mind being stuck on a ship, with people I don't know from backgrounds I don't know anything about. I am worried that after wasting three years of my life getting a degree in a subject I have lost interest in (Physics, I hate it past first year level although I still love the origins) that I'm about to do the same again.

    Please try to convince me one way or another. I don't mind if you talk me into it or out of it, I just need to know which way I want to go.

    For those more experienced, would you do it all again given the chance?

  • #2
    Re: Is it worth it?

    And one more question, if there's no positions as the website says why was I offered an interview? Could there be some in January?

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    • #3
      Re: Is it worth it?

      If your asking for personal opinion, I'd say the Merchant Navy is one of the best secured career/training prospects available now, especially if your a young cadet. Having a HND in marine engineering/navigation along with a 4th eng/3rd off's ticket can get you more or less any engineering/navigational type of job, I could go in greater detail but i'd be repeating myself

      EDIT: positions on the website might be referring to officer jobs, if you've been offered and interview then they have given you the opportunity to take a full cadetship, deck, engine or ETO
      Life at sea is a life for me

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      • #4
        Re: Is it worth it?

        BobbyMicky, I was in exactly the same position as you last September and had very similar feelings. PM me if you need some advice.

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        • #5
          Re: Is it worth it?

          Are you applying for deck or engine? And what did you hate about the physics degree, was it all the endless mathematics? I am a physics grad too and once I started the physics degree I realised it's all maths really with some theory on top and that can be disheartening. I wouldn't say it's a waste of three years even if you struggled through and didn't enjoy it.
          Look on the bright side, when you start your cadetship you'll at least know what to expect in terms of maths techniques and physics principles that are involved. On your physics degree you have covered complex maths, classical mechanics (kinematics, dynamics, rotational motion, etc), thermodynamics (thermal and kinetic physics), you are familiar with scientific measurement units and that's just to name a few things. You may find you enjoy those subjects more second time around, and your cadetship will be much more practical, hands-on rather than just spending 9 months a year doing nothing but mind-numbing complex equations, differentials and integrals about theoretical problems that are hard to imagine in a physical world (think quantum mechanics or statistical physics).

          I would suggest doing more research into the subjects you'll be doing during college phases as well as what's involved into the role of deck/engine officer, the lifestyle and see if you think you would enjoy it; watch the Merchant Navy tv-series, Discovery's Mighty Ships and there is a lot of stuff on youtube, I think it's helpful not just to read about it but see as much as you can about it.

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          • #6
            Re: Is it worth it?

            you missed out cruise ships diaries on the stv player... for some idea of the lifestyle

            but seriously, I think a lot of us on here are hoping for the best. I've enjoyed the 1st phase of college, hoping my upcoming seatime will be good too. But it was quite a gamble leaving my steady job in the city although it was boring as hell, bad for my health, quite a dead end, only the standard 5 weeks holiday a year, ...
            Former TH cadet with experience of cruise ships, buoy tenders, research ships and oil tankers

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            • #7
              Re: Is it worth it?

              It's a unique lifestyle, give it a go and see if you like it. Nobody can advise you as to whether you'll fit in/enjoy it, basically the MN is a sink or swim profession and only by having a go will you discover your tendancies.
              If you decide to take the plunge, best of luck; but if you start and drop out or decide against it, then nobody could say anything against you-at least you tried.
              Sorry to be vague and speaking in puns-but that's how it is!

              Personally I love it and think that getting paid for something so wonderful is a huge stroke of luck.

              All the best....

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              • #8
                Re: Is it worth it?

                The training can be emotionally challenging, and intense at times; it isn't enough to just be good at maths and physics; other factors can get you down: crappy food and accommodation and crappy "teaching" and amateurish learning support for example; some HND engineering students =P.

                To be honest, the reasons you have cited don't seem like enough to me... you need something to really motivate you, some kind of plan, to get you through the tough times. There must be some reason that led you to search in this direction. You don't have to spill your guts on hear about why you want to do it; but you should "keep a diamond in your mind" (in the words of Tom Waits) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORSMACaVPYY.

                I think the reason why you are terrified is perhaps because you have only really looked at it "on paper", and the potential realities of the lifestyle involved have only just dawned on you...

                I'd spend a bit of time on youtube exploring stuff; and maybe even doing some kind of sea-based thing to get you some real-life exposure to the reality of working on a dangerous factory or hazardous hotel far away from land. I'm quite sure that joining the MN is a bit like emigrating from your home country, and you shouldn't underestimate the extent to which it can change your life.

                Personally so far I'm happy with it as a career and what it offers, and have made significant sacrifices to do it; but as any human, there are times when you wonder whether it was the right choice, which is why you need a clear sense of why you are where you are, and why you are doing what you are. When you do, that will make the interview so much easier, I reckon.
                .
                I can't comment on SSTG, beyond saying: listen to SSTG cadets.
                Emeritus Admin & Founding Member

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                • #9
                  Re: Is it worth it?

                  Cheers, Dawg, that's a cracking reply.

                  Maybe you're right, maybe I'm doing this not because I want to, but because I don't want to do anything else. My fear in life is being stuck in "middle management", stagnating in a boring 9-5 job. I wanted something different, something that others weren't doing, something that wasn't accountancy or banking or all that crap.

                  My aim when I left university was to join the police, but the government quickly put an end to that, so I looked around for a job which could offer the excitement and, as I said, the responsibility I'm looking for in my career. Is the MN the right choice? I have no idea.

                  Sorry for using this as free counselling, but it's as good for me to thrash my thoughts out in words as it is to hear from other people.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Is it worth it?

                    Btw, I wasn't implying that the knowledge of physics/maths alone is enough motivation to join the MN. Sometimes people hesitate to go through college "all over again", especially after struggling with their first degree because they think it's going to be more of the same hell. Which is why I was asking him about physics and maths. I'm just saying if he decides to go with it, his experience with cadetship (including college phases) may be very different to his time at uni and his degree might come in handy. But if the merchant navy is not for him then the maths/physics skills don't really matter of course.
                    As for motivation, I agree, it's a serious decision, not to be taken lightly.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Is it worth it?

                      The only way you'll know for sure is to give it a go. If it doesn't suit, so what? Do something else. There is no shame in not enjoying something.

                      Wouldn't you rather have had a crack than never know if it was right for you?

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                      • #12
                        Re: Is it worth it?

                        Agree with all of that. But so far the most exciting part of being at sea is boarding the pilot to go home!!!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Is it worth it?

                          Originally posted by BobbyMicky
                          Cheers, Dawg, that's a cracking reply.

                          Maybe you're right, maybe I'm doing this not because I want to, but because I don't want to do anything else. My fear in life is being stuck in "middle management", stagnating in a boring 9-5 job. I wanted something different, something that others weren't doing, something that wasn't accountancy or banking or all that crap.

                          My aim when I left university was to join the police, but the government quickly put an end to that, so I looked around for a job which could offer the excitement and, as I said, the responsibility I'm looking for in my career. Is the MN the right choice? I have no idea.

                          Sorry for using this as free counselling, but it's as good for me to thrash my thoughts out in words as it is to hear from other people.
                          That's partly what the site is for: knowledge is power etc...
                          There's nothing wrong with your reasons as a starting point; I'm just suggesting that you might want to develop them further, because I'll bet the next question on your mind (as a Physics grad) is "deck or engine?".
                          Why not get on a ferry to somewhere, and talk to the crew? After all, that could be very much like the environment you would spend a lot of your time if you went through the training.
                          You won't be allowed everywhere, but you might be able to get a better sense of what lies in store.
                          I believe Boston Putford (via SSTG) do pre-sea test drives...
                          Emeritus Admin & Founding Member

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                          • #14
                            Re: Is it worth it?

                            Originally posted by BobbyMicky
                            Cheers, Dawg, that's a cracking reply.

                            Maybe you're right, maybe I'm doing this not because I want to, but because I don't want to do anything else. My fear in life is being stuck in "middle management", stagnating in a boring 9-5 job. I wanted something different, something that others weren't doing, something that wasn't accountancy or banking or all that crap.

                            My aim when I left university was to join the police, but the government quickly put an end to that, so I looked around for a job which could offer the excitement and, as I said, the responsibility I'm looking for in my career. Is the MN the right choice? I have no idea.

                            Sorry for using this as free counselling, but it's as good for me to thrash my thoughts out in words as it is to hear from other people.
                            That sounds so like me it's a bit scary! I have friends in management and similar sales or office based jobs and it really sounds like hell to me. I went to uni and did civil engineering but had to drop out after year 3 because I had a nasty illness that meant I missed too many lectures and exams to carry on. I liked civ eng but my dream had always been to be a pilot. The illness I had put a stop to that though. I then decided to look at similar jobs and thought the MN sounded like it would be right. I love all machnies, technical working environment, travel etc etc. It's more the lifestyle that I'm not sure about and sadly there isn't really a good way of seeing if it's right before you dive in. (why don' t they do a short amount of sea time right at the start of training). I don't know if I'd miss all the tings I take for granted. At times it seems like you would have to live a double life and not be totally part of either. The other issue that bothers me is how well I would fit in at sea and the training college. I get the impression (no offence meant) that a lot of people in the MN are pretty rough and ready types. That's not really me to be honest. I am getting on now at 27 years old so I can't really afford to make a mistake in what my next move is.

                            Basically I can fully sympathise with your thoughts. And I agree it feels quite good to be able to discuss with people other than family and friends.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Is it worth it?

                              Originally posted by Andy_S
                              (why don' t they do a short amount of sea time right at the start of training).
                              It's the stupid way they've arranged these new degree courses. Back when everyone did an HND we spent six or seven weeks at college in the first phase, just enough to cover the most basic of basics and get compulsory certificates, then straight off to sea for a five month phase. Less time wasted all round when folk dropped out.

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