Use this opportunity to get up to speed in your job search.
Annual boat shows are key events for the maritime industry. The Palm Beach Show is a premier event, and it’s one of my favorites. Last year’s show was cancelled due to Covid. It was awful. I was working on a yacht at the Palm Harbor Marina, and anticipation and excitement were in the air. Putting together a boat show is an incredibly complex operation that you’d have to see to believe. I’ve been to dozens of shows and the amount of work that is involved never fails to amaze me.
Set-up was well underway two weeks before the show was set to open. Hundreds of boats were scheduled to be on display, worth billions of dollars. And then Covid hit and everything was cancelled. It’s hard to fathom how financially devastating it was for the community and the industry. The show supports over 4000 full-time jobs and statewide has an economic impact of over $600 million dollars.
The Palm Beach International Boat Show is a BIG show, and the 35th Annual Show will return March 25-28, 2021 with increased safety measures in place. Located along the beautiful waterfront and Flagler Drive in West Palm Beach, over a hundred boats from 8’ to over 200’ will be on display. Masks are mandatory, temperatures will be checked on entry, and it will be ticketless. Educational seminars and the ever-popular Aqua Zone are back, and there are lots of new products to check out.
The Covid scenario set off a ripple effect bringing many changes to the industry; some not so good, and some VERY GOOD. Boat sales increased dramatically in 2020 and this trend will continue to be reflected at the show. More boats equal more jobs, and yachting as a job option is hotter than ever. This is the perfect place to find your first job or a new opportunity.
Use your time and resources wisely to make connections and explore opportunities. Here are some tips:
- Be prepared! It may take weeks or months to get a job, and you must be frugal with your finances. Looking for a job is expensive and it’s easy to spend money carelessly.
- Be efficient. It’s not necessary to work with agencies to find work, but it definitely opens up your options over time. Looking for a job is time consuming, so have your details sorted out and be registered online beforehand.
- Learn how to write an appropriate CV. Look to reputable services for help, such as www.superyachtresume.com and accept recommendations from industry professionals who know what it takes to get a job. List your transferable skills from hospitality, flower arranging, event planning, and any boat handling experience. Have business cards made to use for networking and communicating to prospective employers.
- Stop in and say hi to some of the crew agents.
- You might be surprised to learn that agencies are often hesitant to work with newbies. Recruiting crew for a yacht is a paid service. If they place someone who doesn’t work out, they must refund the fee to the captain or owner. That’s why they prefer to represent experienced crew with good recommendations.
- Meet and greet any agents you can to introduce yourself. Take the opportunity to get comfortable talking about your skills and training and what kind of job you’re looking for.
- Resumes get lost in the shuffle during the show, so have business cards to hand out. Be sure to ask for a card from everyone you meet, then take the initiative and reach out later to say it was nice to meet them. It makes you memorable.
- Learn the lingo. You’ll have to quickly learn new vocabulary and terms about yachting demographics.
- Itinerary: Yachts follow seasonal itineraries. Winter is most active in the Caribbean and the Bahamas. Summer season is usually in the Mediterranean, New England, or Alaska.
- Yachts work a “program”. So what’s the yacht’s program? Maybe it has traditionally been summer in the Med, winter in the Caribbean, but due to Covid the boat will stay in the US and Bahamas this year.
- There are three departments on a yacht: Deck, Interior, and Engineering. (Sometimes Culinary is a separate department, which would make four departments.) The Captain is the head of the Deck department and holds the highest position in the chain of command.
- Position in rank depends on the size of the boat. On smaller boats, each crew member is responsible for more duties. The Captain may be the engineer, too, and the boat may run with a Chef/Stew, Deck/Stew or Solo Stew. On larger boats, departments are clearly defined, and there are more crew to carry the load. There may be several deck officers and engineers. Interior could include a Purser as well as Chief Stew and Junior Stews, and a Chef and Sous Chef.
- Nearly every yacht follows similar routines, but every boat and every chief stew is different in terms of specific interior preferences and expectations. All want the same outcome though: a winning team that consistently gives the owners and guests the best experience possible.
- Attitude is important. You will be expected to learn very quickly how to do your job correctly and energetically.
- Understand what training is required. Many boats can hire crew with no training at all. It depends on the size of the yacht, the flag state, and program they run. The minimum standards you’ll eventually need to move up are STCW Basic Safety Training, Food Safety and Hygiene, a Security Awareness course to cover your designated security duties, and the ENG 1 medical exam. Every qualified school will offer versions of the same courses.
- Interior courses are great, however most stews work under a chief stew who will train them up to the standards of that vessel. For those looking to take courses, consider exploring what’s available online. It’s a great option for advancing your career. Look for courses by qualified instructors and take the initiative to gain a solid base of knowledge that can be applied to any yacht.
- Investigate Facebook groups such as Start Yachting, Yacht Stew Solutions, and the Crew Coach, to name a few. The Insider’s Guide to Becoming a Yacht Stewardess by Julie Perry and my book, The Yacht Guru’s Bible, are two books that have stood the test of time and offer lots of advice on how to get a job, and subsequently, what to know to keep that job once hired.
- For more information and for a limited time, visit www.alenekeenan.com to get a free digital copy of my book. Stay tuned for online courses being released soon!
Yachting offers an exciting opportunity for travel and adventure. With more than 15,000 yachts that need qualified crew, the possibilities are endless. The Palm Beach International Boat Show is a great place to start your journey! Take advantage of this amazing opportunity for travel and adventure. Don’t give up. Keep trying and keep giving your best. Good luck with your amazing new career.