I ended up floating in the sea
How I started traveling the world by working on a cruise ship
I unearthed an old, black notebook from my hoarding box given to me by my former student. I call it my lucky notebook. That time, It wasn't the very best of life. I was struggling with finances, with work, with my future plans, everything is just confusing. I thought I am not getting any younger, and life is too short to do things you hate so I decided that on my next job, it should be something I am passionate about, to say the least.
So who am I and what do I have? I had a degree in Psychology, I am a registered psychometrician, 23 years old at that time, most of my professional experience is working with kids, I am an outdoor enthusiast, and I am broke. But I was curious, spontaneous, and had a mindset of endless possibilities. Looking for a job with a very specific criteria is quite a difficult task, but it is possible. so here's what on my list;
1. I want to travel. Or at least I want to experience a life different from my upbringing.
2. I always wished I was a good writer or an amazing singer, something like a talent you're really good at. And then I realized I have a gift working with kids, and it's something I genuinely like to do and continue.
3. And of course, I want to save for my future.
" It will come once you're ready. Just be patient. "
The idea of living in a ship while working with kids actually came up on the night of Christmas of 2014. It was a year-end climb of our outdoor group in Kibungan, Benguet. One of our guests was actually an employee of Royal Caribbean as an inventory control specialist. So he introduced me to the idea and encouraged me to apply. He had such an optimistic mindset that I remember him saying 'I am sure you can make it, just wait and pray'.
And so, on January 2015 I applied as a Youth Staff. Back then, it was still a very different system. Royal Caribbean has still an agency located in Makati. I submitted my documents in the agency and I was interviewed few weeks later. The HR manager was pretty impressed with my application but she mentioned at that time that the main office wasn't hiring Filipino Youth Staff and they'll put my application on file for future reference.
By April of the same year, I finished the academic year as a preschool teacher and started a new job. In between the transition, I had a 3-week rest and instead of taking a breather, I enrolled to a basic training course for seafarers which I will eventually need If I get hired, and also it is a requirement to get a Seaman's book.
Fast forward, after a year of follow-ups I thought I've been waiting for too long, so I decided to apply again but this time on their job database online. I assured that I am better prepared, I edited my resume into a visually-riched curriculum-vitae, I wrote a cover letter tailoring it to the company's branding voice, and I was very specific filling out the application form online.
I received an email few days after for the date of the interview via Skype. I made sure I had a gap in between so I can research thoroughly regarding the company, the nature of the job, and even about my interviewer. The big day came, and although I had some little trouble with my internet I received a wonderful news on that very day that I am ready to process all my documents! It was a pure bliss! It was a long wait but with the proper resources, intensive planning, and right mindset you get the goal you worked for.
I have many friends who I think are even more qualified than me but most didn't make it, so just remember the Coelho's rule, if it's meant for you, the universe will conspire in helping you achieve it. And you don't wait for the opportunity, you have to find a way! Take note that I applied twice to get the job.
As of this writing, I can say that over the past 2 years, working in ships has been the greatest learning curve in my life. Working with a culturally-diverse team helped me understand the world better and working with kids helped me appreciate the little things in life.
So if you're interested to work at sea, here are some tips and how to apply. Most cruise lines hire through online application. Note that I can only speak for my experience. I will focus on Royal Caribbean since that's the one I am familiar with. Application from company to company may vary but they mostly have the same standard procedure.
Their website provides a very detailed procedure. Click and read this one.
1. When you sign up in the job database, make sure you have a good connection and an ample time to complete your account so you don't' need to re-do everything if the internet fails.
2. You will eventually attach your curriculum-vitae and cover letter at the end of your application. If your CV is still plain black and white, you have to think again. Remember that your goal is to stand out among your competitors. As much as the content of your resume matters, the structure is equally important. You can add some colors and graphics but make sure it still looks professional. The internet is generous with templates or you can be creative in Microsoft word. Recruiters can also gauze characteristics that are not directly in your CV such as creativity, resourcefulness, web flexibility, and the like. With regard to your cover letter, don't include information that's in your CV already, showcase your skills and capabilities, highlight the right experience, and custom it by the company's standard. Again, there are millions of resources online to improve whatever you have, don't be lazy!
3. Did you know that you are more likely to be hired if you have some of the requirements already? Aside from a marketable application, having some of the requirements needed gives you one step ahead in the competition. This makes the recruiter's job easier since you'll have less time to process your requirements and be deployed faster especially if they need people on that department. Some of those requirements are as follows;
-NBI clearance for seafarers
You can process all other requirements once you are fully hired. But these I think are initially the important ones.
4. In connection to number 3, scan all your requirements and save them on your memory stick, laptop, hard drive, and/or google drive. this will come in very handy as you will be needing them a lot of times.
5. During the interview, research about the company but focus more on the nature of the job that you are applying and how your previous experiences make you qualified for the job.
and for those of you who want more options, I provided a list of different cruise companies for your reference.