I have been interested in the industry for a while now, but it sounds like it is nearly impossible to get hired on with a decent company as an inexperienced OS. With that in mind, I am considering applying for the MITAGS Workboat program. Ideally I would like to start in one of the 2021 classes if I can swing it financially. I formerly held a MMC, but was only able to use it for a “hamming” hitch aboard a NYC tug. I plan to reapply for my MMC soon, and try to get another hitch or two in with the same company in the next year or so. I am looking at the Baltimore program, and hoping that a Northeast or NYC company will sponsor me for my sea time. I have been in contact with the school, but I would like to get some information from those who have completed or are currently enrolled in the program.
1. How were you able to afford the tuition cost of the school? From my understanding, the program doesn’t qualify for traditional student loans, but private student loans may be an option.
2. How were you able to pay your general living expenses while attending the program? Do the companies pay enough of a stipend during your sea time to afford to pay your living expenses? Were you able to work a part-time job around your training schedule? I am a homeowner and am wondering if I would be able to afford to keep my house while in school, or if I should cash out prior to starting and just find a cheap apartment to live in while I am ashore.
3. Is it feasible to keep my residence in WNY (Buffalo area) and find a cheap place to crash while in Baltimore, or should I expect to try to move closer to Baltimore for the duration of the school?
4. What was the average age of the students in your class? I will be turning 40 next year and am hoping that I won’t be too old to get a tug company to take a chance on sponsoring me. I don’t have a lot of maritime experience, but I have been in the transportation industry for 18 years now and have an excellent safety record.
5. Did your sponsoring company offer you a position at the end of training? If not, were you able to quickly find employment with another company? Were you initially hired on as a deckhand following school?
6. Do you feel that the program adequately prepared you to become a competent and respected crew member?
7. Do you have any other financial or general tips to offer someone who wants to prepare themselves to attend this program?
If you don’t feel comfortable responding to these questions publicly, I welcome you to PM me.
(Edits for clarity)