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Odfjell is on the lookout for new star recruits - part II

Odfjell is looking for new young star recruits. In this three-part series, two bright cadets share their experiences in the company's training program, which is setting the standard in more ways than one. Part II follows the story of Malin and Sofie's journey to Odfjell.

Early career introductions

Deck cadet Malin Gåsvær Haugen was inspired to join up by both of her grandfathers, who were seafarers, especially her grandfather on her mother's side, whose island in Sula meant many memorable moments on a small boat. "I'd love to have him to talk to about the chemical tanker, especially now, because I think he would have loved it," she says wistfully.

Even though she always knew she wanted to be a sailor, Malin took a longer than usual path to becoming a cadet, spending a year in the navy on a frigate before pursuing a bachelor's degree in nautical science. “For me, it was never a rush, but I'm happy that I went this way because there it was not just the normal way that most people go,” says Malin.

“You get to experience a lot of other things also.” It's a route she'd recommend to anyone interested in becoming a sailor because it was a great introduction to life on board as well as a great motivator: "It was very good to have the navy life back in my head because when things got tough at school, you knew you were doing what you wanted to do. You get motivated.”

Engine cadet Sofie Brasetvik was primarily motivated by a desire to see more of the world, and she discovered her path to the profession by chance at a school career fair.

Growing up in Rakkestad, near Oslo, with no seaside, her time on the water was limited to visits to Bodø, where her parents are from.

Nonetheless, at the age of 16, she beat out many others in a competitive school program in her second year of high school in which she spent a year living onboard a school ship called Sjøkurs with 59 other students. They learned about the ship, how to be a seafarer, and the fundamentals of the engine room, including the main engine and auxiliary engines. The travel opportunities that being a seafarer provides were the final push that set Sofie on her career path.

Engine cadet Sofie Brasestvik

Sofie's interest in the engine was piqued even at that young age. “I thought that the engine part was more interesting because it was quite difficult and a lot of different stuff,” she says.

“It's a lot of different things on the deck too, but it was the engine room that had the many types of machinery and engines and processes that you have to learn about. I didn't know about anything. I just wanted to try and see if I could learn it.”

A fast and efficient hiring process

Eva Storeide, the crewing officer, eagerly greeted both Sofie and Malin's arrival. Both women had taken the initiative to reach out to see if the company had any available openings for them.

They were hired about a week after submitting their applications and attending their interviews. It's a good reminder that it's usually worthwhile to simply knock on doors searching for opportunities.

“I think it was really professional that it went so fast,” says Malin. “That was also one of the reasons where I felt this is a good place to be because I like when people are responding fast, and you can actually get in touch with the people you work with.”

In 2021, more than 30 students got their start in a shipping career at Odfjell.

An investment in future talent

Odfjell contributes to maritime personnel training in machines and on the deck and the bridge by hiring cadets and apprentices. On most training ships, two or three seafarers are training simultaneously. The training manager on board and the crew department in Bergen oversee the training.

The first departure will be preceded by an information meeting, either in person or via webinar. The workload is specified in the employment contract, but the ship determines the working hours. It varies depending on the role.

Odfjell has a more than 100-year long history and is one of the pioneers in chemical transportation, today operating nearly 90 chemical tankers. 

Cadets and trainees gain maritime experience at Odfjell on a modern chemical tanker in international trade.

Some will be offered full-time positions with the company after completing their training.

The final step in applying for the Deck Certificate is to gain seafaring experience. Depending on prior experience and maritime education, it could take up to a year. After the training period, a trainee must return to school to be fully certified. A cadet and a trainee are on board for 9-11 weeks.

Advantages of working at Odfjell

The opportunity to travel internationally, as well as the type of ships they would be working on, was a big draw for both Malin and Sofie when they applied to Odfjell.

Two of Odfjell’s chemical tankers, Bow Optima and Bow Excellence, meet in the Panama canal. Odfjell offers the opportunity to travel the world and discover new sights. 

Malin's time as an IHM surveyor, where she experienced many different kinds of ships, had helped her narrow down the types she wanted to work on, and they were quite different: it was a cross between a cruise ship and a chemical tanker.

For Sofie, Odfjell was “first priority” because it offered the chance to work on a two-stroke engine chemical tanker. It was clear that these women were well-informed and driven in the direction they were taking even before they joined the industry.

Malin had also heard only positive things about the company from friends and teachers who had worked there, and she felt reassured by being mentored by Norwegian officers, not least for the comfort of learning in her native language. Odfjell's nearly 90 ships are crewed by seafarers from the Philippines and North-West Europe, but the company is invested in recruiting Norwegian seafarers to uphold Norway's maritime heritage.

Colleagues who serve as mentors and friends

Malin's positive impression of Odfjell's work culture at the time of her application has lasted throughout her traineeship:

“I feel like the people who work in Odfjell are taken very good care of. I think it's a very good working environment that when you want to reach out to someone, you actually get through. You don't get pushed away. One of the biggest differences I see is how they take care of their cadets and trainees. They're very committed to teaching them and giving them the best experience possible. There's no problem asking questions about anything because all of them are just very eager to help you and make you understand.

You also get to be a part of everything that's happened, every operation. For me, it's very important that I can be myself around people and that the people let me just be silly and let me be serious and let me just do what I want. I found it a good mix that you get friends and colleagues at the same time. That's one of the best things because everybody on board is like friends and mentors. It's a very nice combination.”

Colleagues and mentors on board Bow Olympus

This is the second in a series of articles about the Odfjell cadet experience. Part 3 will tell the stories of Malin and Sofie living onboard as seafarers.

Crewing officer Eva Storeide can also be reached at for applications or questions. To apply for cadet positions in Norway, send your resumé, application letter, grades/courses, and a photograph by March 1.

Written by Zayana Zulkiflee

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