Latest advice for aspiring Superyacht Hospitality students - Louise Overend from YPI Crew
This week Chris Frisby, UKSA’s Director of Operations, chats to Louise Overend from YPI. Based in the South of France, Louise specialises in recruiting Stewards/Stewardesses for the Superyacht industry. Dealing with juniors she gets to play an important part in the beginning of someone’s career and their journey in life. She loves helping someone land their dream role! Chris talks to Louise about how she kept busy during lockdown, what the state of play is for Superyacht Crew recruitment in the South of France now and her advice for all aspiring Stewardesses.
At the time of year where you would usually be at your busiest, meeting new crew and placing them on yachts, COVID ground the Superyacht industry to a halt, how did you adapt the way you work to life in lockdown?
Well, I can honestly say, I don’t think I’ve ever been so grateful for modern technology! In a time where we all felt isolated, we discovered new ways to stay really connected to others -people within the industry, clients, candidates, family and friends. From phones calls and video calls, to Zoom meetings, Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram, we all found our own ways to go ‘ok, let’s do this -let’s all connect and work together’
Usually March through June, the office is a buzz of candidates coming in to meet with me for interviews and hopefully landing their first position on a yacht. It’s my favourite time of year meeting the Next Generation of Yacht Stews! Of course, with the job market dropping 80% during this time -the area hardest hit being junior crew, it was very important for me to still ‘meet’ with the stews so they didn’t feel forgotten. The focus then became on connecting with them in a new way, looking at ways to keep them inspired about their future career, and also feel part of the yachting community.
Through social media, I managed to engage with junior stews, and with video calls, we managed to interview, give valuable CV and career advice. I think the biggest way I adapted was in the setting up weekly ‘coffee mornings’ on ZOOM for Junior stews, to provide weekly updates on the situation, and provide a place where they could ask any question’s they had for me, and to meet each other. Each week, we were also joined by an trusted expert within the industry, from Interior Training Consultants, to Chief Stews who would meet and chat with the Stews about training courses, what to pack, how to stand out etc We had junior stews from all over the world, mainland Europe, UK, USA, South Africa and Australia attend!
This is something I will be doing seasonally going forward for junior stews, as it was the highlight of my week, and proved to be a great way for the them to meet each other.
(The lovely thing was, that the junior stews networked and all became friends with each other in zoom groups! I often get photos sent to me from these Stews when they meet up in Ports to say hello to each other now they are all on yachts! Which is just wonderful!)
We even shared a live interactive cocktail masterclass one evening – again this being online, where we all learnt how to make the same cocktails together, and then had a ‘cheers!’ We were joined by a several Yachts, Junior Stews, Experienced Stew, and Chief Stews from all over the world! When would that ever have happened before?!
Now that the UK government has eased the international travel restrictions for France, we have many graduates who are keen to head to Antibes to look for their first position in the Superyacht Industry. Even in the busiest of seasons we know there are no guarantees of securing a position if they head to the South of France to go dockwalking. Are there many vacancies available for aspiring crew there at the moment?
Currently, its really picked up here on my desk with last minute work coming through! With many Stews further afield still unable to travel back to their yachts due to lockdowns and flights, there is lots of temp work coming in, as well as last minute charters/owners trips being booked -needing day workers to help turn around the yachts after they have been in ‘winter’ mode still or only just returning from the Caribbean season!
Most of positions coming through now are seasonal -with the uncertainty over what will happen next season, many yachts are only looking at offering positions till the end of Sept/October. With candidates still struggling to get back from countries outside of Europe, there is a deficit here now in available crew, and the positions that are coming in are all asking for stews locally, so they can start ASAP. The busiest ports for work are currently along the French and Italian Rivieras, so being able to travel by train easily is a massive plus, and more appealing to yachts over potentially cancelled and expensive flights they would incur by flying crew in.
As always, there isn’t always a guarantee of a job, however for stews heading down with hospitality and Service experience and training courses behind them, there is a strong possibility they will pick something up that could potentially lead to a seasonal, (hopefully permanent) position.
What is your advice to candidates who potentially have a gap on their CV, following their training at UKSA, because of the COVID lockdown?
I always advice to never have gaps on CV’s usually -however, this is something that will be common for this period. The question I ask my stews now, and chief stews and captains ask, is ‘what did you do during lock down?’ I think its so important for stews to have an answer that shows they were proactive in some way -for example, ‘After I completed my UKSA training, I found I really enjoyed HK/Laundry/Service/floristry, so I did more online training and research’ or ‘I tried to learn a language’ perhaps ‘I researched cigars’ etc even ‘I helped look after family members who couldn’t get to the shops’ These stews will really stand out from the crowd! There’s lots of free online learning to really improve your basic knowledge too, youtube videos are great!
During lockdown, I did a project with Chief Stews, trainers and HoDs to keep junior stews engaged and inspired, and they created mini training videos on things like Napkin Folds, Towel Folds, Cocktail making, Wine Pairing, top Housekeeping tips -which shows that they are wanting to see junior stews learning and being proactive, especially during times like lockdown when it’s so difficult to keep motivated!
What’s the best way for our graduates to get in contact with you?
The best way is to register with me at www.ypicrew.com, where they can upload a CV and the documents, and also leave me weekly check in messages, so I can see where where are, and they can tell what’s new!
I am on Facebook, at @louise.overend.YPI/
I also have a new Instagram page @louiseoverend_yachtstewagent/ where I post weekly CV tips, jobs as they come in, mini- features and interviews with senior crew and industry experts, as well as other useful bits of information and advice from my now-experienced stews, for junior stews coming into the industry!