Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sailing After College… What now?

By Caitlin Niemic

A year ago, I was a stressed out college senior who didn’t know what the future held for me after graduation.  I knew I had to enter the “real world” but wasn’t sure how.  Not to mention, this would be the first time in seven years that I wasn’t going to teach sailing.  After applying for what seemed like hundreds of jobs in my field, Communications, I thought wouldn’t it be great if I could just teach sailing year-round?  That’s when I began my search for a career in the field of… Sailing.

It has now been just over a year since my May 7, 2011 graduation.  Two weeks after graduation I packed up my car and drove 600 miles to Newport, RI where I would begin my new job in the “real world” at US Sailing  Not only was I happy to have found a job, but as a sailor I couldn’t imagine a better opportunity.  Arriving just in time for sailing season, I was beyond excited to get out on the water.

Getting involved in the sailing scene and finding a boat to race on seemed like the least of my worries.  To my surprise, it was mid-July before I stepped foot on a sailboat. 

I began volunteering for race committees and helping out at regattas in the area to get involved but it was still a challenge.  For the first time in my life, I wasn’t able to sail regularly during the summer months. It was a change that took me a while to adjust to, to say the least. 

Through my personal experience, graduating from college, moving to a new town, and starting a new chapter in my life, it dawned on me.  I can’t be the only person who has or is going through a similar transition.

For me, it came down to making that first connection.  Although sailing is such a large and diverse sport, the sailing community it tightly knit.  Through networking and making connections I was able to find myself on the water a handful of times last summer.  Although most people had a regular crew for the season, by expressing my interest in sailing to co-workers, I was able to fill in on different boats for a few races, and landed a spot as a regular crew member for the 2012 season. 

My advice to those looking to get involved in a “new” sailing community, research the local yacht clubs and sailing centers, see if they need volunteers or have a crew list that you can add your name to. Most importantly, speak up! 

So here’s my question to you college seniors and recent college grads, how do you plan on staying involved with your sport? 

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