26 Mar 2024
by Ashleigh Kitchiner

Developing Your Marine Career

Ahead of the IMarEST Future Leaders’ Forum, Ashleigh Kitchiner explores what’s available to help marine professionals develop their careers.  

In an era of rapid environmental change and increasing ecological and technical challenges, the need for passionate and knowledgeable marine professionals has never been greater.  

While our expertise plays a crucial role in addressing pressing environmental and technical challenges, it’s equally important for us to share our knowledge and inspire the next generation of engineers, technicians and environmental stewards.  

Why join a professional institute? 

A professional institute is an organisation that represents and serves the interests of professionals within a particular field or industry.  

These institutes are typically established to promote the standardisation, development and recognition of the professions they represent. Membership of a professional institute usually comes with benefits such as access to exclusive resources, opportunities to stay updated on industry trends, networking with peers and experts, and the chance to contribute to the advancement of the profession through participation in committees, research, and educational initiatives. 

Overall, professional institutes, such as the IMarEST which brings together marine engineers, scientists and technologists, serve as pillars of support for professionals, offering guidance, resources and a platform for growth and collaboration within their respective domains.  

Free Student Membership 

The IMarEST already offers Free Student Membership which is open to all students, cadets, apprentices and trainees in the marine sector. Members are eligible for certain awards, funding and scholarships. The IMarEST is committed to supporting lifelong learning, including those starting out in their careers and those at the cutting edge of new developments in their profession.  

As a student or graduate you may wish to join a Student Section, these are groups established to support student members of the IMarEST at universities, colleges and training establishments around the world. 

If you are no longer eligible for student membership, then the Career Development Pathway is the natural progression. It will support you for up to five years following your graduation or completion of your cadetship or apprenticeship, by setting out a clear and structured path to gaining professional registration and getting a head start in the marine sector.  

The IMarEST Sea Your Future (SYF) initiative 

The Sea Your Future (SYF) initiative was reinvigorated by the IMarEST in 2023 to develop, encourage and inspire future generations into a profession in the marine industry.  

To support the initiative, there is a SYF Steering Group of which I am a co-Chair. The group encompasses a variety of marine professionals who are at various stages of their career and who wish to help create an effective strategy for career progression.  

Our aim is to encourage university students and early career professionals to enhance their professional skills by engaging with the many initiatives at the IMarEST, such as the Future Leaders event.  

Have you considered a mentor?  

Within the IMarEST mentors are volunteers who dedicate their time and expertise to inspire and engage young people in their chosen subject and career. Starting a new career can be daunting and even overwhelming but with a mentor, graduates and early professionals have one-to-one time where they can share their thoughts and gain expert insight. 

You can have more than one mentor as different people will offer you different elements of advice and guidance.  Your network and senior colleagues are a great place to start if you’re looking out for a mentor. Most of the successful people you see have been mentored at some stage, it really is worth reaching out! 

Final words 

There’s a growing need for marine professionals to join the ranks to showcase their work and roles. Marine professionals possess a unique skill set that is of immense value to communities and society. Our expertise in fields like ecology, engineering, climate science, and sustainable development equips us with valuable insights into the challenges facing our planet. As marine professionals, our expertise is not only needed to address environmental and technical challenges but also to inspire future generations to take up the mantle of environmental stewardship. We need to connect with young minds, fostering a love for STEM subjects, and instilling a sense of responsibility for the planet. By sharing our knowledge and passion, we can make a lasting impact on the future of our environment, the maritime industry and the next generation of marine leaders. So, why wait? Take a look at the SYF pages and contact us about any of the topics raised in this blog. 


About Ashleigh Kitchiner MIMarEST, RMarSCi - co-Chair of the SYF steering group 

Ashleigh is a passionate environment advocate and marine biologist, specialising in marine mammals. She has been fortunate enough to work in the energy, charity and tourism sectors, working off and onshore in various roles. Ashleigh is passionate about onboarding environmental advocates and is an active STEM Ambassador, STEMette and WISE Ambassador. 



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