Q: Am I too old for yachting? (Jess, 42, stew)

“I’m a 42 year old woman who wants to get into yachting as a stewardess. From what I hear, this is pretty rare… it seems to be a young person’s game, particularly for stews. I don’t want to be discouraged though, as I had kids really young, they’re all grown up now and I feel like it’s my time to travel, make some money, and have some adventures! I’ve got a strong service background as I’ve been in high-end hospitality forever, I’m fit and I look pretty good for my age-but I am aware that the odds are against me finding a job easily. Nobody seems to be giving me a straight answer, so I want your honest opinion: am I too old to get into yachting?”

A: The Crew Coach:

Great question! To be honest due to the nature of the industry, you may feel discriminated against due to your age, however it doesn’t mean you won’t find a position you are looking for. I know of several women like you with grown up kids who have found stew or chef positions for the first time in their forties. However, they would concur with you and say they too found the job-hunting process difficult and frustrating at times. The reality unfortunately, is that this is largely an image focussed and ageist industry and you will likely be passed over for a younger applicant. So if you’re going to go for it, you need to accept this and maintain a positive attitude, as it will increase your chances of securing a position onboard.

Yachting has changed over the 18 years I’ve been in it. These days hundreds of young hopefuls turn up every year with very little work and life experience, and Captains, crew agencies and management companies are increasingly desperate for professional crew with the maturity and determination to stick the job out for the long-term. You need to make it clear that you have the life and work experience the industry is looking for, as well as the determination and work ethic to go after what you want and stick to it.

For the right Captain, your maturity (and winning personality) will be the thing that gets you hired, rather than the thing that rules you out. In order to smooth your path into the industry I recommend you target smaller yachts with more mature, long-serving crew. Young crew tend not to want to work on these yachts so you may find you have less competition and a Captain more willing to consider you. Your maturity indicates you will need less hand holding and should be able to get on with the work with little supervision. Very small teams, i.e. Captain and stewardess, working for a low-key family or older couple are even likelier still to hire more mature crew.

In short, you’re not too old for yachting, but you should still prepare yourself for a potentially more challenging job hunt. Networking is even more important for you than it is for younger crew, as people will need to meet you and know you in order to vouch for your zestful nature and energy. This may not come through as much in a CV so in person, you will be your best ambassador. I suggest connecting with as many people as you can when you get to your job-hunting port and join as many yachting forums and Facebook pages as you can.

You are welcome to join our facebook yachting community hub, where you’ll find a lot of support and opportunities too, as well as access to our CV Toolkit and Yachting 101 which is packed full of information about the industry as well as job hunting strategy and interview techniques.

Finally, as well as obtaining all the compulsory entry level courses, you can increase your employability and impress people by enrolling in some additional industry courses, such as the introductory GUEST program. This is a great foundation for interior work and show prospective employers you are really serious about working in yachting. You could also do a powerboat course and get a tender license in order to increase your chances of joining a smaller yacht.

Last but not least, keep in mind the strong reasons you want to do this and let that continue to motivate you even when the going gets tough. I believe there is a place for everyone in this industry if you just persevere and don’t give up. You can make this happen and all sorts of wonderful adventures awaits you! I wish you the best of luck and would love to hear how you get on.