My name is Jenny Seet. I’m 24 years old – and this is the story of how I found my calling at sea.
When I was young, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I grow up. But even as a child, there’s one thing I knew for sure: corporate desk jobs are not for me. I could be watching a TV show about firefighters and be like, “Oh, I want to become a firefighter.” Or I might’ve chanced upon a Hollywood cop movie and thought to myself, “Yeah, a policewoman sounds pretty cool too.” Little did I expect myself to be here – at 24 – standing tall and proud as one of the female Marine Systems Experts in the Republic of Singapore Navy.
TAKING THE PLUNGE
I’m always up for a challenge. When I’m not doing water sports such as surfing or diving, chances are I can be found hiking in the mountains on a spontaneous solo trip. And perhaps it’s this love for adventure and travel that led me to take the plunge into a naval career.
In pursuit of something a little less conventional, I chose to enrol for a Diploma in Marine and Offshore Technology at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, where I had the opportunity to intern at the Sembawang Shipyard. It was super cool ’cause you get to check out the different types of ships down at the cargo holds – and not everyone gets to experience that.
Following my internship, I got even more intrigued by the prospect of pursuing a career in the Navy and decided to attend the Navy Women’s Career Seminar – and that was the moment that changed my life completely. I was drawn to the opportunity to serve at the frontline of Singapore’s maritime defence, and more importantly, being able to do my part to protect my loved ones motivated me to take the leap of faith. It’s been four years since then and I’ve never been more contented.
SETTING SAIL ON AN UNCONVENTIONAL JOURNEY
Before I entered the industry, I thought that Navy life would be all about sailing. People also have this misconception that we’re always out at sea for months, but I realised that it’s far from the truth. In reality, the Navy actually emphasises a lot on maintaining a good work-life balance, which I really appreciate.
I work as a Marine Systems Expert on RSS Persistence so most of my days are spent on board the ship. A day in my life would start off with morning exercise with the ship crew, followed by mustering before we split up to do our individual section’s work. I’m in the auxiliary section, so I’m in charge of conducting daily maintenance of the engine generators. Sounds like a tough job, but hey, if I can do it – anyone trained can!
GETTING YOUR HANDS DIRTY
The thing about working in the Navy is that you work with a lot of guys – and at first, they might think “Aiya, you girl you no strength one lah” because you’re required to handle heavy equipment on a daily basis. But you just got to prove them wrong.
In the past, I thought that I wouldn’t enjoy all the heavy-duty engine work. But since taking on this role, I realised that I’ve become more hands-on and open to challenges. There was once we stayed up for a good 16 hours to fix an engine defect while we were out at sea. It was tiring, but seeing everyone just coming together to help each other out – even if it wasn’t their section’s duty at that time – more than made up for our lack of sleep. These experiences also trained me to think critically and solve problems as I have to be prepared to face any challenges at all times.
CROSSING BOUNDARIES AS A YOUNG SAILOR
One of the most memorable events I had at sea was participating in the equator crossing ceremony. The ceremony is a long-standing naval tradition of initiation that commemorates a sailor’s crossing of the equator for the first time. I was woken up at 2am, and was surprised that the well dock had been transformed into an obstacle course which I had to go through. It was crazy, but fun nonetheless!
At the end of the day, I think what really makes the Navy such a fulfilling career is the team spirit. Despite the challenges, the friends whom you make on board the ship are truly the ones that you will keep for life. It is our home away from home – and that’s what the Navy family spirit is all about.
This post is brought to you by the Republic of Singapore Navy.
Inspired by Jenny’s story and wish to find your purpose in the Navy? Find out more at the Navy Polytechnic/ITE Career and Sponsorship Seminar happening on 20 September 2019 at The Joyden Hall, Bugis+ #07-01. Sign up here!