News & Updates: Port Bureau News: July 2020

Internships Benefit Students, Companies in Maritime Workforce Development

Thursday, July 23, 2020  
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A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” – Socrates, 300 B.C.E


The maritime industry is facing a potential labor shortage and leadership “knowledge drain” as babyboomers age out of the workforce. A study by the International Maritime Organization in 2018 predicted that by 2025, there will be shortage of 148,000 deck or ship officers worldwide. How will those jobs be replaced?

Encouraging young people to enter the industry is crucial to the nation’s operations and security. Many young people are not aware of the opportunities in the maritime industry, and it is important that companies engage with schools and colleges to introduce students to maritime careers. Internship programs can play a significant role in this process.

Internships Introduce Career Paths

Philip Heavilin, executive director at Career Development Office at Rice University, Jones Graduate School of Business, describes internship programs as a part of a holistic succession planning strategy that includes identifying and grooming early-career employees as senior-level employees retire from the ranks of upper management.

Internships, he says, offer a variety of benefits to both students and host companies. For students, internships provide the opportunity to gain real-world experience, develop connections with professionals in their chosen field, and gain an in-depth understanding of a particular career path. The internship also provides an experience that can be leveraged for the full-time job search.

“For MBA students at Rice Business,” said Heavilin, “internships are typically project-based and serve as a summer-long interview for a full-time job offer. In some industries, such as investment banking, the summer internship is essential for post-graduate employment as an analyst or associate. An internship is also a terrific opportunity to transition into a new field.”

For companies, internships are a strategic component of an organization's talent development strategy. “Leadership development and rotational programs are designed to groom future talent for the organization,” Heavilin added. “These companies use the internship as an extended interview process, evaluating how well the intern performs on their assigned projects, their ability to make connections with colleagues, and how they engage with clients and company leadership. Internships serve to bridge the connection between what students learn in the classroom and how it can be applied effectively for various organizational challenges.”

Internships Create Career Goals

Kaitlin Hall is a senior Maritime Business Administration student major at Texas A&M University at Galveston (TAMUG) expecting to graduate in the summer of 2021. She has participated in several internship programs at various maritime locations. Kaitlin will be the first member of her family to embark on a career in the transportation and logistics industry.

Kaitlin assisting management in a cost reduction project at Port Manatee.


In the spring of the 2018-2019 school year, Kaitlin studied Applied Physical Sciences at San Jacinto College, unsure of what career direction she should take. Her immediate goal was to transfer to a four year college. Where was the best place to invest three years of her life and thousands of dollars?

It sparked an intensive college search. Her father suggested touring the Texas A&M at Galveston campus. Kaitlin listened and took notes as Jeff English, career services coordinator at TAMUG, explained the university’s unique connection to the transportation and logistics industry. Jeff’s passion for the university and all the incredible feats Texas A&M Galveston alumni had accomplished throughout the school’s history impressed Kaitlin and she enrolled.

Ken Bailey, TAMUG’s director of Career & Ability Services, added Kaitlin’s school-issued email to TAMUG Career Service’s email distribution that provides opportunities for students of all majors to intern, volunteer, or find full-time positions in their field of study.

The first internship Kaitlin completed was in the summer of 2019 with Canaveral Port Authority. During this internship, she developed a passion for the maritime industry. She took tours of roll on/roll off vessels, shore & gantry cranes, and learned about the impact a port has on the economy and every day lives of citizens in the surrounding region. The staff at Port Canaveral encouraged her journey and the internship became critical to her search for another internship experience.

Kaitlin secured a second internship at the Port of Galveston in the port’s accounting department, assisting the accounting staff and auditors. This exposure to the port’s finances taught her how a port authority’s business model functions. She also learned how to operate in an office climate and managed time to meet deadlines. As an Accounts Payable intern, she assisted in audits and utilized accounting software to help the full-time accountants with daily tasks.

In February 2020, Federal Marine Terminals, Inc. (FMT), posted a job description for a summer intern to TAMUG’s job & internship distribution email. One aspect of the maritime industry which Kailin was drawn to was what FMT offered: shoreside operations.

Kaitlin at work in the FMT warehouse.


Federal Marine Terminals is  a subsidiary of Fednav Limited , with over five decades of operating stevedoring facilities at ports in the United States and Canada. The company’s fleet consists of more than 120 bulk carriers, 64 of which it owns. Fednav also employs 310 office staff worldwide and maintains commercial offices overseas in Antwerp, Charlotte, Hamburg, Rio de Janeiro, Singapore, St. John’s, and Tokyo. They service breakbulk, bulk, containerized, project, and general cargoes, handling a wide range of commodities including cement, cocoa, containers, gypsum, machinery, steel, sugar, and wood pulp and forest products. The company places a priority on their internship program.

“FMT has been investing in our Summer Intern Program for many years. The goal is to create a pipeline of talent for future roles and increase awareness of our industry,” stated Julie Conway , HR advisor at Fednav Limited. “We structure our program to ensure interns spend time in each key department to gain an overall understanding of Port Operations.  As a family-owned company that has been in business for over 60 years, we welcome students into our FMT family and strive to have them gain valuable knowledge and experience.”

Kaitlin was scheduled to intern in FMT’s Montreal location in Canada. Then, COVID-19 arrived. Canada closed their borders, and Port Manatee in Manatee County, Florida, was selected as safe location for completing her internship. It was a whirlwind of new experiences for Kaitlin, with new terminology and knowledge provided by her immediate supervisors and coworkers. The FMT internship experience has far exceeded her expectations through working on the docks with FMT’s superintendents.

“The greatest benefit that an intern gives is a fresh perspective on your operations.  Collaboration between an intern and your current employees creates opportunity to explore new ideas and foster teamwork with new energy,” explains Luke Kvapi, general manager of FMT Port Manatee. “This approach not only benefits the intern but also your employees and creates an opportunity to find talent that has the potential as a new hire.”

Gaining experience in a field of study before graduation is a chance to learn much more about the industry than a student can learn solely in the classroom. The value of interning with a company like FMT Port Manatee, which has collectively invested their time and effort in teaching interns the basics of their operations, cannot be overstated.

Kaitlin onshore: "Gig 'em!"


“Texas A&M Galveston has taught me that the next generation of the maritime industry is here,” said Kaitlin. “We are fresh, excited, and hungry for the chance to prove ourselves. I do believe that it is the duty of each generation to mentor the individuals who will someday hold the world itself in their hands. What better way could there be to ensure that the world will keep turning, even through unprecedented events such as COVID-19, than to take this young generation under your wing, and teach them your strategies?”