The first Chapter of the Ship Operations Cooperative Program (SOCP) “Future Leaders” is now a reality at Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA). This first SOCP Future Leaders Chapter hopes to motivate cadets and other students to network with professionals in today’s maritime industry.
SOCP is a non-profit organization of maritime industry professionals whose goal it is to provide beneficial innovations in ship and other maritime operations through the identification, development and application of new methods, tools and technologies in a collaborative environment. Its overall objective is to improve the safety, productivity, efficiency, security and environmental performance of U.S. vessel operations.
The “Future Leaders” program will give cadets a chance to listen to guest speakers and attend SOCP conferences, since “networking is key” to securing a job after college as described by this year's Future Leaders Chapter President Michael Bentley, a MMA Senior majoring in International Maritime Business and a cadet interned at APL Maritime during the summer of 2016.
“During my time with APL, I sat in on SOCP webinar meetings and learned about what this program is all about,” said Bentley. “I also learned that APL is one company (out of many) involved in this program. I was asked to start the first student chapter of future leaders for SOCP at the Academy. We are the first to start a group out of all the other U. S. maritime academies.”
Bentley hopes to work on the operations management end of a shipping company or container terminal after graduation. “The addition of this new SOCP chapter on campus expands industry networking possibilities, bringing that dream job a bit closer.”
The SOCP Future Leaders are looking to start similar groups at other maritime educational organizations in the U.S. to help increase awareness with industry leaders as to the value of working with the next generation early on.
Internships at various SOCP companies have proven to be incredibly valuable to young mariners. Hannah Jette, a 2014 MMA graduate, said: “SOCP members were essential to my growth as a cadet at MMA and as a future professional in the maritime field. I completed multiple internships with its members through the opportunities I had to network within the organization. Those contacts I made as a cadet led to multiple employment offers upon my graduation.
“There is absolutely no better way to ensure a strong future for the maritime workforce than mentoring students. We need these hands-on learning opportunities to make us well rounded academy graduates and better future managers and leaders!”
Captain Chris Volkle, Deputy Director of Operations at APL Maritime and a 1981 graduate of MMA, is one of the SOCP members on the forefront of this continued effort: “Our internship program has generated amazing productivity and success. The interns have proven to be highly capable and have accomplished tasks at supervisory and management levels. We have hired a number of our interns upon graduation for positions such as Assistant Terminal Manager, Crewing Agent, Fleet Analyst, and Regulatory Compliance and Training Assistant.
“I am confident that they will all do very well in the company and rapidly work their way up in management. Intern programs are an efficient and cost effective means to accomplish the company’s objectives and goals and provide an advantage to the maritime industry.”
The Future Leaders are not only being given networking opportunities but are also assisting SOCP with important projects addressing critical issues that the maritime industry is currently facing, such as participating in the SOCP’s Maritime Sexual Assault/Sexual Harassment Prevention Project.
The Project Team, led by Zoe Goss, Director of Marine Development at Crowley Maritime and chair of the Future Leaders Committee, consists of SOCP members across the maritime industry in different disciplines. The deliverables of this project include: an industry Best Practice Guide, a Computer Based Training Course and a Toolbox Kit that will be available to the maritime industry upon completion.
This is just the first project of more to come where these students are working alongside seasoned industry professionals. As part of the Future Leaders Committee vision to “recruit younger generation (millennials) from the maritime industry into SOCP as active members” is to encourage these chapters to become active in their community with socially responsible projects. These Chapters will help to provide a new perspective on what the future holds for U.S. shipping as the SOCP member organizations look to solve challenges collaboratively.
The SOCP will be hosting their 2017 Spring Summit; “Navigating Regulations & The Future of The Maritime Industry” at the Edgewater Hotel in Seattle, WA (April 5-6) with topics focusing on the future of the maritime industry, Pacific Region Requirements, Maritime Vocational Programs, Port Security and more. Anyone interested in attending can find more details here.
For more information about MMA’s first SOCP Future Leaders Chapter, please visit “Leaders for Change” article on the MMA website here.
The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.