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Learning every day

Marine Institute graduate develops problem-solving skills with every voyage

special feature: Class of 2023

The Gazette’s latest special feature celebrates Memorial’s newest alumni.

By Moira Baird

Fall graduate Jake Hollett combined a love of being on the water and a talent for fixing things into a career as a marine engineer.

Since May, he has worked as a third-class marine engineer with Algoma Central Corp., a shipping company operating vessels in the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence Seaway and Atlantic Canada.

“It’s a great job,” said Mr. Hollett. “We are responsible for every piece of machinery on the ship, so that includes the main engine and all associated maintenance with that, and the generators, electrical, wiring and plumbing.”

Eye on the future

Mr. Hollett also has an eye on a long-term future that may not include monthly shift rotations onboard ships.

Last spring he completed a bachelor of maritime studies (maritime management) degree, an online program focused on the impact of human resources, economics, marketing and quality management in the marine industry.

It is offered by the Marine Institute’s School of Maritime Studies.

“It aligns with what I want to do in the future and includes courses like the business of shipping, economics and conflict management. Down the road, I could have opportunities to work in an office job.”

This week, he will pick up his parchment as he crosses the stage during fall convocation ceremonies at the Arts and Culture Centre in St. John’s.

A family first

Originally from Norris Arm, N.L., Mr. Hollett is the first in his family to become a mariner.

“Growing up, I always loved boats. My father did have a couple of pleasure craft and I just loved being on the water — I had no fear of it, never got seasick.”

He graduated from the Marine Institute’s four-year marine engineering program during a pandemic-delayed ceremony in November 2022.

The program includes three work terms, enabling students to complete Transport Canada requirements for 180 days at sea.

Mr. Hollett did his sea phase on board Algoma’s dry bulk carriers.

He also received scholarships during his time at the Marine Institute, including the W. Gary Rowe Q.C. Scholarship, the Association of Prawn Producers Scholarship and a one-year Toromont Scholarship.

Mechanically inclined

With a background in mechanics, he enjoys a hands-on occupation.

“I didn’t want to be in an office while I’m young. I want to be able to work with my hands so marine engineering is a nice balance. The month-on/month-off schedule also gives me lots of time to do things I’d like to do when I’m not working.”

One of those things is restoring automobiles, something he started at the age of 13.

Jake Hollett, a white man in his early 20s, stands next to a vintage Dodge pickup truck that is parked near a body of water and trees.
Jake Hollett with his grandfather’s vintage Dodge pickup truck.
Photo: Submitted

His first project was restoring his late grandfather’s 1969 pickup truck, which he describes as a family heirloom.

“I learned as I went with that truck when I took it apart and put it back together. I learned a lot from that experience.”

Solving problems

While he’s open to shore-based opportunities in the future, he’s enjoying the challenge of maintaining shipboard engineering systems.

“I’m interested in doing anything that challenges me. The job provides a lot of opportunities to learn from other people because you work so closely with people who have so much more experience. I learn something new every day with every vessel and crew.

“You learn new ways of doing things, more efficient ways of analyzing things and coming up with solutions,” he continued. “You learn to stay calm when things happen. By getting excited or nervous or worried, you’re not solving anything. That’s the job: solving problems.”

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