I'm in the middle of my college career, studying for a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, and this last semester I've really tried to pin down what I want to do after graduation. One field that has consistently popped up is the marine industry. I'd really like to find a career near the water where I can work on the design, manufacture, and maintenance of watercraft (preferably sailing yachts).
There are two big hurdles in my way, though. 1) I am from Kansas and only really became interested in sailing once I graduated High School (despite going out to sail on lakes every summer) so my experience with boats is rather limited and mostly theoretical compared to someone who grew up in a real sailing family. Plus my degree does not focus on maritime applications in the slightest. 2) Because of 1, people I've asked say the best way for me to get into the industry is really to start at the bottom as a shop attendant or facility worker. Now I'm not opposed at all to rolling my sleeves up and learning by doing, but if I can find a position which puts my years of college education to more direct work I would definitely feel better about choosing this field over others more typical of my school's graduates.
I've found organizations like SNAME and IMarEST, though I'm not sure how much they can help me until I'm in the workforce.
My question to you all, is are there any of you who are in the design/manufacture/maintenance side of the watercraft industry and can you tell me if what I've said above is accurate. Any tips on how to get my foot in the door would be greatly appreciated.