Bethany splits her time between college and on-the-job training at sea. As an electrical engineer she works on equipment ranging from navigation and communication systems to electrical generators and propulsion motors.
What’s your name?
I am 20 years old.
Where do you work?
I work on board the Seajacks Zaratan. The Zaratan is a jack-up vessel, which means it has the ability to lift itself out of the water on four hydraulic legs.
Currently the Zaratan is involved with installing offshore wind farms.
What's your job title?
My job title is electro-technical officer (ETO) cadet.
An ETO ensures that the vessel’s electrical systems remain working. As a cadet I undertake on the job training onboard ship, interspersed with phases at college where I am studying for a degree in marine electrical and electronic engineering.
How long have you been doing that?
For the past two years. I first went to sea at the age of 18.
How did you get there?
I heard about working at sea through family members and from visiting an employment exhibition. I thought that it sounded like an excellent opportunity to gain some practical experience while continuing my education. In the sixth-form, while studying for my A levels I applied for the ETO cadetship at the same time as applying for university.
What's the work and day-to-day experience like?
Due to the wide variety of work that needs to be carried out on ship it is difficult to define a typical day’s work as an ETO. One thing that every day does have in common is the technical challenges that it presents.
Unexpected breakdowns can demand high levels of innovation and resourcefulness, as specific spare parts and specialist technicians are not always available onboard a ship.
What's the best thing about the job?
The best thing about the job is the wide variety of tasks for which I will be responsible. I work on equipment ranging from navigation and communication systems to electrical generators and propulsion motors. Each area offers its own challenges and I find it difficult to envisage a day when I will not learn something new.
I also like the fact that I’m gaining good working knowledge and studying for a degree.
And the worst?
For me, the worst part is the work rotation, being away from home for a month can be difficult. However, we also get a month off to be at home, so it does balance out.
What standout things have you got involved in?
The opportunity to travel was something that I was very keen to try out. Last summer I spent four months in Bermuda and managed to take part in local activities, such as the annual raft race.
At college I have been given the opportunity to be a higher education reviewer, which aims to provide that college faculty with a student’s view on college policies and facilities.
How would you describe life as a working engineer?
Life as an electrical engineer is challenging, particularly in the marine environment as it is not as easy to get spare parts and you have to make what you have work. Although this can sometimes be quite difficult the satisfaction of completing a difficult task is very rewarding.
What did you expect when you started work? Was it what you expected or did anything surprise you?
I’m not sure what I expected when I started work, I think imagining what it is like to work on a ship is very difficult unless you have some experience of it.
Working for Seajacks is an interesting and challenging experience that I would have missed if I had gone to university. My involvement with a team of specialists constructing offshore wind farms has given me a greater understanding of the various roles offshore.