Does visiting exotic countries, meeting interesting people and making money while travelling sound like the perfect job for you? Well, the dream has come true for Singapore Polytechnic Diploma in Nautical Studies (DNS) student, Amelia Sue Pickering. 

Harbouring ambitions of an adventurous career that would allow her to travel and see the world, she was eager to pursue her diploma studies at Singapore Polytechnic (SP) because she figured there would be more job opportunities readily available upon graduation. Looking to her father, a veteran in the Maritime industry, for inspiration and advice on her nautical pursuits, as well as scoring several medals at various canoeing championships as part of SP Canoe Sprint – it’s safe to say that the life of a seafarer comes easily to Amelia. 

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With her parents’ support and tuition fees sponsored by PSA Marine, it was full speed ahead for Amelia’s career in the high seas. Between February 2015 to April 2016, she set sail on a year-long internship with shipping firm, APL, which saw her working as a crew mate and learning the ins and outs of running a ship. But the best part was getting to travel the world – from Los Angeles and Seattle in America to Barcelona and Valencia in Spain; Genova in Italy to Fos-sur-Mer in France; and parts of the Middle East and China – Amelia’s definitely turning out to be quite the globetrotter. 

But this aspiring mariner also earned her keep. Her daily duties aboard the ship included navigational watch four hours in the day and four hours at night, checking the temperatures of reefer containers, measuring water levels in tanks and bilges, and recording every little detail into logbooks. In between her duties, she also helped out with various other jobs such as deck work, cargo watches, and mooring operations.

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And while life on board a cargo ship may seem tough to most girls, Amelia’s biggest challenge was actually learning to get comfortable with her crew mates. “On my first ship, APL Barcelona, it felt kind of strange to just be suddenly living with a group of strangers. But I did manage to adapt pretty quickly. My second ship, APL Miami, was much easier on me,” she shares.

Describing it as the major highlight of her time in SP, Amelia is grateful for the opportunities that helped her to flourish from a shy secondary school girl to the confident young woman she is today. During her fulfilling three years in SP, she has made many close friends and received support from encouraging lecturers, including SMA lecturer Mr Peter Lee, who put in the effort to make sure his students understand his lessons. In parting words of advice to all aspiring lady mariners out there, Amelia mentions: “Don’t worry too much about what the crew thinks of you. Just do what you’re supposed to do, work hard, and it’ll all be fine.”

Photo credits: Singapore Polytechnic

Feeling inspired by Amelia? Check out SP’s Diploma in Nautical Studies to get your head start! 

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