Hooked on Marine Trades

Career expo sets sights on teenagers

Julia Newman, right, found her dream job at Watermark Journeys at the Marine and Maritime Career Expo.
       Do you know a teen who loves boats or spending time on the water? Who loves technology, science or math?
       Local employers are looking to hook such teens with a career in the marine and maritime trades.
      The Eastport Yacht Club Foundation introduces students to industry professionals at the Marine and Maritime Career Expo at Annapolis High School this Saturday, February 24.
       More than 50 organizations discuss careers in the marine trades and the maritime sciences as well as educational and apprentice opportunities.
       The free event is geared toward middle and high school students as well as recent high school graduates and college students from Maryland and the Bay region.
      “The school systems focus so much on college that they are ignoring a large number of young people who have skills and strengths that would serve them better in a skilled trade,” says Susan Zeller, executive director of the Marine Trades Association of Maryland.
      “This career fair celebrates the strength of those who do well with their bare hands, working mechanically or working outdoors and around the water. We want to give young people a good strong path with internships, scholarships and job practicums that lead to great, well-paying, in-demand jobs.”
       Four years ago, the expo landed now-18-year-old Julia Newman her dream job: working for Watermark Journeys in Annapolis.
       “I was a freshman at Archbishop Spalding High School, and I was interested in marine science. My parents and I saw an announcement for the career expo and thought we’d go check it out,” she says.
       After talking to a Watermark’s captains, she applied for a job. “I just went there looking to explore possible things I could do in college, but after hearing about this job as a ticket agent, I applied, interviewed and they hired me.”
       Newman has worked her way up to assistant operations manager. “I love it,” she says.
       Students learn about recreational boating in Maryland, a $2.4 billion industry that needs new employees to meet that demand.
      “Our goal at the expo is to spread interest in maritime careers in general,” says Ginny Mininger of Watermark. “Maritime industries are uniquely important to our area. People move to and visit the area just to experience that atmosphere. Attracting youth to the industry to grow the workforce not only benefits our industry but the economy as a whole.”
       That’s an idea Susan Zeller supports. “All those boatyard owners and workers are a graying workforce, and we are not doing enough as a community to really foster the idea of young people moving into these kinds of fields.”
      It’s also an expo for young people interested in exploring the ecological side of the trades.
      “In Annapolis’s Back Creek, no one needs clean water and a healthy environment more than the recreational boating industry,” says David Read Barker of Back Creek Conservancy. “The marinas, boating schools and boat repair shops here face a growing need for environmentally savvy employees who can help meet government regulations and rising customer expectations.”
      The Conservancy signed up for a table at the fair, expecting to interest one or two students in marine environmental work. It yielded five interns: two from Anne Arundel County high schools and three college undergraduates.
      Newman offers this advice to teens and their families attending the expo: “Look at everything being offered there. Even tables I wasn’t interested in at first glance had something cool to offer me. So go in with an open mind and be active and participate.”
     The career fair is free and sponsored by the Eastport Yacht Club Foundation, with support from the Marine Trades Association of Maryland and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.
Sat. Feb. 24: Noon-3pm, Annapolis High School, free: www.eycfoundation.org.