I remember the day I discovered the Semester at Sea program; an instant rush of excitement, curiosity and a gut feeling made me fill out the application on the spot. However, reality set in when I realized I had a lot to do to make this voyage a reality. I was already on financial aid, loans and federal work-study at my home university and didn‚Äôt think I could additionally afford a voyage around the world. Then I discovered that the Institute for Shipboard Education offers financial aid and work-study opportunities. I contacted ISE immediately and worked with the admissions staff whose main goal was to get me on the ship, no matter what. This incredible team helped make my dreams of seeing the world come true. Through a financial aid package including a work-study position, I was able to travel the globe. Upon reflection, I cannot imagine what sailing would have been like without my work-study position. ¬†Here is my guide to Work-Study aboard the MV Explorer.
What is the work-study opportunity?¬†The work-study opportunity offers jobs to students aboard the MV Explorer with relevant experience and financial need. Students may work in a variety of positions including library and campus store work, information technology, administration, field programs or communications. Some of my friends were in charge of fundraising within Alumni Development and developed a creative campaign that raised substantial funds for future student scholarships. For my work-study, I assisted the IT Coordinator in the shipboard computer lab.
Tips for applying: ¬†You should first consider your strengths and interests, as well as your past and current job experiences when applying. ¬†You can only choose one position to apply for, so consider the job which you are most qualified for. Recommendations can also be helpful. If you want to work in communication, have a professor from your Communications Writing class or your Internship Supervisor in the PR Firm you worked at over the summer write you a letter of recommendation. Make sure to spruce up your resume to include any and all relevant qualifications and experiences. Think of it as applying for a job, not just a scholarship.
Perks of being a Work-Study¬†student:
1. ¬†Work-study students get to board the ship a day early in order to prepare for their roles. You are able to explore and get acquainted with the ship while your classmates wait eagerly to board.
2. It is easier to meet fellow members of the shipboard community. For example, I worked in IT and I met a majority of the students the first day. Everyone wanted to make sure their laptops were hooked up and ready to go, and we were their go-to crew. It was great to meet everyone and help them settle into our new home.
3. You only work when the ship is at sea. Your time in port is all yours.
4. It provides a routine ‚Äì go to class, do your homework, go to work. This routine helped me keep my life in order and encouraged productivity and time management.
Highlights from the experience:¬†The friendships I made working in IT made an incredible impact on my voyage. I met my best friend on the ship through work-study. Our boss called the IT workers ‚Äúthe dream team,‚Äù and we all had a blast.¬†A lot of the Lifelong Learners (adult passengers) had computer problems and came for help. I remember helping one Lifelong Learner daily; he had such a wealth of knowledge about the world, and life in general. I value each and every moment we had in the computer lab. It was great problem solving practice, and provided opportunities to make conversations with people I may not have otherwise gotten to know or encountered.
If finances are a concern for you, know this: ISE will do whatever they can to help get you on the MV Explorer. Opportunities like the work-study grant help make your dreams possible. I will forever be grateful to the generosity of ISE and those who made my own dreams come true.
Find out more about the work-study grant and how to apply,¬†here.