The world is their oyster: Four IYRS students land dream jobs

                  Damian, Maggie and Paul ready to                                  explore the world!

When you dream of your perfect job, what do you see? For Marine Systems students Damian, Maggie, Paul, and Jonathan, that dream is working on boats at sea. The roads that brought them to IYRS couldn’t be more different, but their professional paths after graduation are interwoven…and the stuff dreams are made of.  

Damian learned about IYRS about 20 years ago when he was in Newport for a two-week sailing class and noticed the historic schooner Coronet docked at the campus marina. His love of history and the ocean led him later to a Master’s degree in Underwater Cultural Heritage, and in 2019, the time was finally right for him to come to IYRS to get the hands-on skills he was seeking to round out his maritime knowledge…

Maggie came to IYRS from a career in yoga and fitness but with a passion for building –specifically building and outfitting tiny spaces like the converted van she drives. Maggie was chatting with a 2019 alumnus about his experience at IYRS and was intrigued by how IYRS’s hands-on education could take her work to the next level. Being from Long Beach Island, New Jersey though, the ocean was never far from her mind…

Paul is an attorney by (former) trade, but a builder at heart. Originally from Minnesota, he built his own home there. He knew his desk job just wasn’t the type of mission-driven work he wanted but wasn’t sure what his new career path might look like. He happened to be watching an episode of This Old House featuring IYRS when the seed was planted…

            Jonathan will be working aboard the FG Walton                  Smith in the Caribbean

Jonathan’s passion is travel. After spending a year in Australia, he went home to New Hampshire and bought a small sailboat to sail down the East coast. While passing by Rhode Island, his engine died and he came into port in Newport to figure out how to fix it. It took two weeks to find the used parts he needed to get it running himself, and while in town he joined in on a locals’ game of ultimate frisbee where he met an IYRS alum who had recently graduated…

After these chance encounters, all four students enrolled in IYRS’s Marine Systems program in fall 2019. Working together on projects in the systems shop, Damian, Maggie, Paul, and Jonathan – who were fortuitously paired up as bench mates - talked about their collective career goals of working on boats at sea. IYRS Career Development Manager Mollie Williams heard the call and worked to make their dreams a reality by inviting the non-profit organization SEA Semester to exhibit at IYRS’s career day – and  their adventure unofficially began.  

SEA Semester is a teaching and research organization that provides high school, gap year, and undergraduate students with sea voyages of scientific and cultural discovery. Students and crew embark on 3-month research expeditions aboard the SEA tall ships and explore regions from New Zealand to the Caribbean to Tahiti. Every great research vessel needs a great crew, and SEA offered coveted at-sea Assistant Engineer positions to Damian, Maggie, Paul, and Jonathan after meeting them at career day and learning about their IYRS education. Jonathan ultimately chose a similar job offer aboard the 96-foot research catamaran FG Walton Smith out of the University of Miami, and all were adventure-bound!

SEA Semester tall ship

Research aboard a SEA Semester tall ship

This spring, Damian will sail from Hawaii to American Samoa with a research stop in the Phoenix Island Protected Area of the South Pacific. Maggie will go aboard in St. Croix and cruise the Caribbean during the spring semester. When that leg is complete, she’ll fly to Tahiti where she’ll again board a SEA tall ship and sail to Hawaii.  And Paul will board his SEA ship in St. Croix and sail up the East coast to SEA’s home in beautiful Woods Hole, Massachusetts on Cape Cod. We wish them fair winds as they embark on these once-in-a-lifetime adventures.

It might be work, but for these four IYRS students, it’s a dream come true.