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Professional Development & Career Services

The Department of Professional Development and Career Services (PDCS) consists of:

•             Office of Shipboard Training

•             Office of Career Services

The Shipboard Training Program

All Midshipmen, as an integral part of their professional training, participate in a cooperative educational program during the two periods of their sea year. Training aboard ship is designed to give the Midshipman practical knowledge of the performance and operating characteristics of various classes of vessels, the operating requirements in different trade routes, and labor relations in the ocean shipping industry.

The first sea period lasts approximately 135 days. During this period, the Midshipman is assigned to different types of dry cargo vessels. The Midshipman then returns to the Academy to build on his/her experiences at sea. The second sea period is longer, roughly 265 days. During this period, the Midshipman finishes his/her sea service requirement of 300 days aboard ocean-going vessels and completes an internship with a company or organization with involvement in the transportation or marine engineering industry.

Academy Training Representatives assign Midshipmen to vessels, monitor and guide their progress, and maintain liaison between the Midshipmen, the shipping companies, and the Department of Shipboard Training.

The shipboard training program provides Midshipmen with the opportunity to use a ship as a seagoing laboratory. Midshipmen are given a number of courses called the “Sea Project” which, in addition to their shipboard duties, they are required to complete and submit for evaluation and grading. The assignments are carefully designed to ensure that Midshipmen, while aboard ship, apply the knowledge and skills learned in the Academy classrooms and acquire a firm foundation for advanced study when they return to the Academy. In addition to written assignments, Midshipmen take oral and written examinations after returning from sea.

Aboard ship, marine transportation majors are assigned to the vessel’s Deck Department, and engineering majors to the Engineering Department. Sea project courses concentrate on subject matter appropriate to the Midshipman’s major.

Should a Midshipman, prior to the second sailing period, acquire a definite maritime career goal, the department may arrange a program of shipboard assignments to provide opportunities for specialized experience in the last sailing period.

During the second sailing period, Midshipmen with a strong interest in a career with the sea services of the U.S. Armed Forces or National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) may request an assignment aboard a vessel of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or NOAA Corps. Midshipmen may also request an assignment aboard tugs or towing vessels.


The second sea period includes a two-to six-week internship assignment ashore, depending on the Midshipman’s major, to provide the opportunities to observe and participate in the management operations of a maritime, transportation, or engineering related organization. This will enable the Midshipman to acquire concepts of organization, decision-making, operating procedures and proper work ethic. The Midshipman makes his/her own decision regarding where to do the internship.  The assignment is for two weeks, except for the Marine Engineering and Shipyard Management majors, whose internship is six weeks long. Depending upon a Midshipman’s field of specialty and interest, the Midshipman may be assigned to a shipping company, shipyard, ship repair facility, ship brokerage and chartering firm, stevedoring firm, marine surveyor’s office, towing company, port and terminal facility, or a similar enterprise. Optional internship assignments are also available with shore-based commands of the U.S. Armed Forces. Midshipmen are required to complete a written report on their experience, which is submitted to their designated Academy Training Representative for evaluation and grading.

The following is a description of the specific internship programs:

INSP 100 Internship Program - 2 Weeks Credits: 1

This program provides each Midshipman an opportunity to observe the management environment in an Academy mission (maritime, transportation, engineering, government agency, Armed Forces, etc.) related organizations for the periods of two weeks. Ranging from a basic survey to participation in executive, mid- and entry-level management projects, the Midshipman’s choice of an internship requires investigation of the organization’s background and history; current organizational structure; decision-making processes; operating procedures; and work place ethics. The Midshipman demonstrates in a written report a comprehension and understanding of these factors as well as basic management concepts as applied to the host organization. This internship must be completed by all majors as part of courses required for graduation.

INSP100 and EPRJ400 Shipyard Management Internship - 6 Weeks Credits: 3

This program is open to Midshipman enrolled in the Marine Engineering and Shipyard Management Program who has completed courses in Engineering Shop and Ship Engineering Operations, combines the requirements of the INSP 100 Internship (Management Orientation) Program with specific objectives of the Marine Engineering and Shipyard Management major. The specific objectives include learning procedures and obtaining practical skills in specific areas of shipyard operations at a major or a mid-sized shipyard or repair facility, and collecting data for a capstone design project in the first class year. Upon completion of the internship, the Midshipman demonstrates in a written report a comprehensive and understanding of the management concepts and engineering operations at the host facility. The minimum six-week internship must be completed by all Marine Engineering and Shipyard Management majors as part of the courses required for graduation. Upon application, Professional Service Time in Lieu of Ship Service Time may be requested for up to 50 days of the Shipyard Management Internship period.

Career Services

The Career Services Office assists Midshipmen with career development starting in their plebe year and continuing until graduation. The Office provides a series of presentations by Academy personnel, alumni and industry partners focusing on obligation-fulfilling careers that also fulfill a Midshipman’s personal career goals.

The Office presents two annual career fairs: “Sea Fair” each fall; and “The Shipping-Out Fair” each spring. In addition, off-campus events are arranged, such as tours of shipping companies and industry conferences. There are numerous on-campus career information and recruiting events through the year. When possible, these evening presentations are hosted by a Midshipman liaison who is interested in a career with a specific company. The Department maintains a close relationship with maritime companies, unions and government/military contacts. Up-to-date information is shared with Midshipmen via Intranet or by email Employment announcements are also posted in the USMMA Alumni Foundation Job Bulletin. The Office assists Midshipmen with application procedures and other professional correspondence. The Office maintains as open-door policy.

In October of 2022, PDCS awarded a career services contract to Core Group Consulting.  This contract aims to identify industry knowledge, provide assistance on resume writing, interview preparation, employment guidance, trends in the industry, forecasting of future employment, availability of afloat employment and the capability to provide additional career counseling to obligated USMMA Midshipman.

Now Accepting Applications for the Class of 2029