She calls herself a sailor and enjoys working with the boys onboard. As a cadet Natalie Knutsen (24) is learning most of the operations taking place on Edda Freya, and she likes being in a learning position.
Natalie Knutsen at Østensjø Rederi's office in Haugesund. Photo: Liv Alsaker/ DHR Saga
– I was lucky to be offered this job as a cadet at Østensjø Rederi. I guess they preferred me because I was the best-qualified applicant and not because I’m a girl, the 24-year old says with a smile.
Natalie originally comes from Heggedal near Oslo. After basic training in the Navy, one working year, and then three years of nautical study at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL) in Haugesund, she landed a job as a cadet with Østensjø Rederi in the summer of 2018.
– Serving in the naval defence gave me a taste for life at sea, so I decided to study nautical science in Haugesund. It’s exciting to work in shipping and it can offer a number of exciting job opportunities to choose from, she says.
Now, 360 days as a cadet over a two-year period await her. The first year she will be stationed on Edda Freya while after a year she will be transferred to a different Østensjø Rederi vessel.
– In this way, I gain wide experience in the shipping company, which will hopefully earn me a rewarding job afterward. I also find working as a pilot appealing, so I might eventually explore that opportunity. Luckily, I have plenty of time to find out what to choose, she says smiling.
TRY OUT THE PROFESSION!
Natalie onboard Edda Freya. Photo: Private
As a student at the nautical branch of study at HVL, she and her fellow students were in regular contact with Østensjø Rederi and other local shipping companies. She was very pleased when she in 2017, after completing her second year of school, landed a summer job with Østensjø Rederi – at a time when the oil crisis still had a grip on the industry.
– The summer job gave me a real opportunity to figure out whether being a sailor is something for me. After the summer there was no doubt in my mind that this was what I wanted to do, Natalie recounts, adding that her family and friends were somewhat surprised by her choice.
– There’s no tradition for working as a sailor in my family – my parents work in the health sector, and my twin brother has chosen an entirely different vocation. I would recommend other girls to choose a maritime profession. Not only is their presence sorely needed in the industry, but it is an exciting industry which may offer great opportunities. Of the 45 students attending the nautical branch of study, only five were girls. It’s important for girls to become familiar with the opportunities and interesting tasks that this industry offers. However, it may be smart to experience life at sea by getting a summer job on a vessel to figure out if it’s suitable, she says.
HECTIC WORK DAYS
The days whirl by when she is at sea. Natalie enjoys the beautiful nature that surrounds her. On Sundays, her day off, she hangs out with her colleagues, working out in the gym onboard amongst other things. She finds Edda Freya to be an enjoyable workplace. She gets to take part in most of the activities carried out onboard, from maintenance work, mooring tasks, freight calculation, logistics, and participate in voyage planning.
– They also allow me to operate the large vessel -– naturally while being expertly guided by the mate, she smiles, adding that the crew are highly including and concerned that everyone feels well when they are onboard. Apart from a handful of women working in catering, she is the only girl onboard.
– I feel I blend well into the environment and I enjoy being onboard. We work together as a team, which is an absolute must in a workplace like this, where we are all important pieces in a busy workday, completely dependent on each other. I feel I’m significant as a cadet. At the same time, it’s good to be in a learning position, where you are not expected to know everything and be an expert. I try to pick up all the knowledge and experience I can get, Natalie says. She is beginning to become familiar with the rotation; four weeks at sea, and four weeks onshore.
At the time being she lives with her boyfriend in Tysvær, and in her leisure time she enjoys exercising, looking after the animals at the farm where she lives, and spending time outdoors. She also has a part-time job as a lifeguard at Tysværtunet.
– The four weeks off duty go by very fast. Then it’s nice to return to my cabin on Edda Freya and seeing all my workmates again, Natalie says.
Photo: Liv Alsaker/ DHR Saga
– GIRLS ARE GIVEN PRIORITY IF QUALIFICATIONS ARE EQUAL
Jorunn Henriksen, Competence and Recruitment Manager at Østensjø Rederi, believes it is important for Haugesund as the maritime capital to offer maritime education, both at HVL and Fagskolen Rogaland (technical college).
– This gives us opportunities of getting to know the students and keeping in touch with the academic community. It also simplifies recruitment. Natalie and others like her have been able to join our company through our collaboration with HVL. And it’s quite correct what she says, it’s thanks to her qualities and skills that she was offered the cadet position, Henriksen says.
She reports that Østensjø Rederi, through SURF (Sjøfartens utdannings- og rekrutteringsforum) has entered a collaboration agreement with HVL.
– This entails that we are represented at the annual career day for maritime students, and we conduct interviews with potential candidates both at HVL and Fagskolen Rogaland. Basically, this means that we prioritise students located in Haugesund, she says.
– “It’s always positive for the environment to have both genders represented. However, we don’t do anything special to recruit girls, and I’m more interested in the candidate than their gender. But in cases where two candidates are equally qualified, the girl will probably be prioritised, Henriksen admits.