OCA Project Consultant: A Year in Review

Our Project Consultant, Jared Mattern, has been with us for one year today! We posed him some questions about his first year with the company.

If someone told me a year ago that I would be working in a cutting-edge growing industry, at a company that places me in some of the largest offshore wind projects planned for the United States, I would not have believed it. As a 2020 graduate from the University of Rhode Island in Ocean Engineering, I, like thousands of my colleagues across the country, had our post-graduation prospects dimmed as the world was gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The term “we will wait and see” became the common theme in many response emails from companies that had open positions. Undaunted, One day I happened to cross upon Offshore Construction Associates and decided to give them cold call. After a couple back-and-forth emails and interviews, OCA brought me as an intern in July and at the conclusion of the internship in September, I was offered a full-time position as a Project Consultant.

Looking back a year later, it’s humbling to see how much I have learned and grown professionally, all while playing a role in the clean energy transition. I look forward to seeing how the Offshore Wind Industry in the US and globally grows in the coming decades and how OCA transcends with it.

What was the initial appeal of OCA? 

The appeal to OCA was simple. I wanted to be a part of large impactful projects, be able to work on said projects from a bird’s eye view, while leveraging both my interest in finance and engineering. I also wanted to work for a company that showed real growth potential both within the industry and as an employee of the company.

What were your first couple months like?

Absorbing as much information about the offshore wind industry as possible. I studied Ocean Engineering at the University of Rhode Island and several of my professors, classes, and projects were focused on offshore wind. Starting at OCA, I thought I understood the basic concepts of offshore wind projects. I was partially wrong, and it was not because of URI’s education but rather the shear level of experience OCA has in offshore wind. I recognized OCA’s substantial strength immediately, the wealth of knowledge and experience on how to execute offshore projects anywhere in the world.

What has been your favorite project so far?

My favorite project thus far has been developing the construction and installation (C&I) strategy and modeling potential CAPEX and OPEX for a multi-billion-dollar offshore project currently in the early planning stages. This was my first project where I was given a leading role and the independence to develop and model a project’s CAPEX. Specifically for the C&I of offshore electrical platforms and foundations. It was the perfect blend of applying my engineering knowledge and financial acumen. The result was a projected CAPEX detailing the potential costs for fabrication, transportation, and installation for multiple major offshore renewable energy assets. The extension of this was assisting in developing the operations and maintenance regime and costs for the several decade lifespans of the project. The client was very pleased with the inputs and projected CAPEX. It’s inspiring to think that if the project moves forward, that OCA and myself will have been responsible for not only projecting the projects initial CAPEX and OPEX calculations but also developing the early stages of concept design.

What do you enjoy most about working for OCA?

I enjoy the wide variety of projects and actively playing a role in growing a small business in a rapidly developing industry. Working on a variety of projects at OCA has given me a unique high-level view of what is required to bring an offshore wind project to fruition. OCA has worked on everything from overseeing export cable production and testing, foundation lifting feasibility and crane curves, to project CAPEX & OPEX modeling. We have experts on operations and maintenance, offshore asset T&I, ports, subsea cables, stakeholder engagement, and much more. Getting to work with each of these experts on their respective projects and address some of the great challenges facing the offshore industry in the US is what I enjoy most about OCA.

The other aspect I enjoy is having an active voice and role in building OCA into the industry’s preferred choice for offshore wind expertise. OCA is a small company where collaboration on how to improve and grow OCA as a business is at the forefront. I consider myself entrepreneurial and ambitious, but I did not think that I, being out of university for a year, would I be able to sit and take an active role in shaping the future of a company.

What advice would you give some who is looking to get into offshore wind in the US?

Be persistent, patient, and ready to learn. If you search “offshore wind jobs” or “offshore wind companies” on Google or LinkedIn you will be bombarded by job postings that are either manager roles requiring a decade of experience or jobs at top offshore wind developers that are more European requirements based, i.e. 5-year undergraduate and master program combined with a path to obtaining a chartership.

The truth is the offshore wind market in the US is still very much in its infancy and draws heavily on European industry structure and norms. In the coming years, as the first projects enter operation, the US industry will start to develop its own structure and norms as the market matures and demand for a US based work force grows.

Until then, be persistent, do not let job postings get in the way. Do your research on who the industry players are, what they do, and who does the work. In the age of quick apply and automatic resume readers, the best way to break into an industry is reaching out and developing a personal connection and network. Do not be afraid to cold call, email, and follow-up on those connections. It is reason why I am working at OCA.

But be patient, like I said the industry is in its infancy. As offshore wind grows, the demand for people will follow. Be willing to start at the bottom and build up. In the long run it will be worth it. Experience is the name the of the game so far in the industry and taking up internships at a company working in offshore wind will give you a leg up. If you really want to be a future industry leader, be patient, work hard, and learn as much as you can from the current industry leaders.