Tan Li-Jung @ Petrina Tan
Diploma in Marine Engineering
Lee Kuan Yew Award
Embracing the grind and braving unfamiliar waters
Petrina’s interest in ships was evident from when she was a young child. After visiting a maritime museum in Taiwan and being enthralled by the sheer size of the vessels on display, as well as the ships docked at the Port of Kaohsiung, her inclination towards a career on the seas became stronger. As someone who enjoys solitude, working on board a ship suited Petrina, who saw her chosen vocation as a challenge that she was up for.
After doing some research on the job scope of a marine engineer, she knew the exact course she was aiming for, and enrolled for Singapore Polytechnic’s (SP) Diploma in Marine Engineering (DMR).
Her time in SP was anything but smooth sailing. Petrina shared that she struggled with her mental health towards the end of Year 2 and was not able to cope with her studies or revisions for her exams. She sought help from a counsellor and has been on the mend since.
Internships in the maritime industry can be daunting for women, but Petrina emerged stronger from her experience. When she boarded her very first vessel during her internship with Synergy Maritime Pte Ltd., she felt like a fish out of water. Being the only female onboard didn’t make anything easier, but Petrina was determined to make the most out of her seven-month stint. The culture shock was apparent and for the first month, she felt invisible. The senior officers in the crew refused to speak to her, let alone show her the ropes. However, she bit down hard, asked tough questions, and took the initiative to observe her crewmates so that she could pick up the necessary skillsets.
Being a rose among the thorns meant that she had to work doubly hard when it came to the actual heavy lifting. However, the strong-willed go-getter said that at the end of the day, it's not how strong you are physically but how hard you are willing to work.
Despite the challenges she faced onboard the vessel, the Lee Kuan Yew Award recipient had some important people in her corner, including her friends and teachers, both past and present. As her Liaison Officer cum lecturer Mr Joseph Lee, whom she looked up to since Year 1, would constantly check in on her and ease her doubts about certain machinery by offering detailed explanations which deepened her understanding of how they operated. He always reminded her to “begin with an end in mind” for everything that she did, and this piece of advice motivated her throughout her internship.
Being dyslexic, Petrina uses a recording device and a tablet to follow along during lessons. Over her four years in SP, these recordings have amounted to more than six terabytes, but the St Anthony Canossian alumna is proud to have come so far and made such strides towards becoming the person she is today.
Truly excited about what the future brings, Petrina says she looks forward to the endless possibilities of digital transformations in the maritime industry. After graduating, she will be returning to Synergy Maritime Pte Ltd. to serve her bond. With the world as her oyster, the outspoken and ambitious natural-born leader will surely be making waves wherever she goes.