Ready to Grow

Alumna shares insights on building a life at sea

Eliza Pingree ’15 keeps an open mind. As a transfer student in the MET program, she knew that things might not always go as planned, and she was open to adventure. In the years that followed her graduation from MMA, she has traveled the world and learned more than she ever imagined she could along the way. Here, she shares insights on what it takes to build a life at sea.

Don’t quit your daydream. “Going to sea had always been one of those unattainable daydreams of mine but I was majoring in fine arts and working as a dishwasher at a local restaurant. When my brother applied to MMA, it felt like I was given permission to explore my old daydream. If he could do it, why couldn’t I?”

Eliza Pingree portrait

Work hard and be humble. “One of my biggest takeaways from MMA was to never be above a job. I would never ask anyone to do something that I’m not willing to do myself. Even as a 1st A/E with a department of 40 people, I’m not above getting my hands dirty! I get bored at my desk and am always looking for excuses to do cool stuff.”

Expect the unexpected. “I had a specific vision for my career, but it doesn’t look anything like that now. I didn’t realize that engineers are basically detectives: something happens that makes no sense, and then you spend the rest of the day gathering clues and figuring out what’s going on. Now that is my favorite part of the job — who doesn’t want to be Sherlock Holmes?”

Listen and learn. “I’ve learned never to underestimate the power of experience. You can’t truly understand what you’re getting into until you do something yourself — no matter how much you’ve read about it. You have to use your judgment, obviously, but don’t discount the input of people who have more experience than you.”

Set goals and work towards them. “There are still a few things I’d like to accomplish: go to the Antarctic Circle, the Black Sea, transit the Panama Canal, and things like that. At some point, I need a few months of diesel time to complete my license upgrade. Beyond work, I really want to start building my house, and I think that might help with the whole life outside of work thing!”

Be open to change. “Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself! Your goals don’t have to stay the same and if you change directions, your time hasn’t been wasted. Everything you do becomes part of who you are. I use so many of the things I learned in my fine arts program in my job as an engineer, and I don’t count the years of college I did before MMA as a waste. They were an important chapter in my story.”

Stay hungry. “Remember that you don’t have to know the answer to everything, but you do have to be willing and eager to find out. When you first join the workforce, you’re at the bottom of the pyramid, and that’s okay. Just don’t get too comfortable there! Keep your eyes wide open and learn everything you can.”

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