Taalke Middents never really thought about going to sea even though she grew up in Emden, a city in north-western Germany whose port continues to be important for shipping (especially cars) and shipbuilding (especially submarines). After graduating from high school, Middents wanted to do something that offered a lot of variety. And that’s when she happened upon a university program in industrial engineering for maritime transport. “The curriculum sounded super interesting. But it was only later that I realized that this would also entail going to sea,” Middents says with a laugh.
Since September, she has been sailing for Hapag-Lloyd as chief mate aboard the “Prague Express” in the India America Express (INDAMEX) service, which operates between India and the United States. “The job is naturally the same as before,” Middents says. “Only the ship is a lot bigger.” After completing her studies, she spent five years sailing on charter vessels for the Hamburg-based shipping company Leonhardt & Blumberg. When asked why she signed on with Hapag-Lloyd, she says with a grin, “Well, after all … it’s Hapag-Lloyd.” The thing she values most about working for the company is the job security it offers, as she used to only have fixed-term contracts. “I also like the ships, as the atmosphere is totally cosy, which makes it a home and not just a workplace,” she adds. “And the fact that there are real office spaces on board also fosters interaction among colleagues.”