I used to have an easy job. Working for 8 hours a day, 6 days a week in an aircon room fully equipped with soft drinks and snacks. I had to meet up with customers, sell them tour packages and then arrange everything for them, from air tickets, accommodations to cars, tour guides… Sounds busy right?
Well, only when I had customers. People nowadays like to do everything online and the company has a department to take care of that. So most of the time I spent watching movies, scrolling Facebook pages, having snacks and chit chat with colleagues.
After two years of service, I got to the manager chair and got great pay, a job that most youngsters dream of. But somehow I felt like it was not the job for me. It was just…boring. I went from 70kg to 90kg body weight in 2 years, plus the polluted air in HCM city was just killing my health. I wanted to do something else. Something involving more activities and outside polluted cities.
Scuba diving to me at the time was just some kind of water sport that looked so cool having a tank on your back and swimming around the stunning corals and fish. I had watched some BBC’s documentaries about the amazing underwater world and the idea of working in the diving industry starting to attract me. However, it did not take long for me to find out diving was not as simple as I thought.
Well, for safeties sake, you can’t just strap a tank in your back and jump straight into the water. I knew I needed to find a good place to start my diving journey.
After spending a long time researching the best options, I decided to go with Rainbow Divers, they’re were the first dive centre to open in Vietnam and have been running for more than 20 years and their TripAdvisor page is full of 5 stars review telling me I can put my trust in their professionalism.
But then I hit my first problem. Diving isn’t a cheap sport, especially in Vietnam where my average salary is only around $200 per month. I needed financial help. Lucky for me, I found the internship portion on Rainbow Divers website. I took my chances and contact the owner, Jeremy, to ask him about an internship.
To be honest, I didn’t expect much, so it came as a surprise when Jeremy offered me an internship for Divemaster and then instructor training and scheduled an interview.
I have to say, I couldn’t sleep that night, the idea of working underwater was so exciting.
I came to the office in Saigon where I met Danny, my first instructor and later who became my mentor. The open water required you to swim 200 meters but at that time, I could only swim around 50 meters.
So I spent my first week in Saigon with Danny getting my swimming up to scratch going through all the theory needed for the Open Water course, plus I practised some confined water skills in the pool.
Soon after I went to Nha Trang for my first open water dive. I still remember the feeling when I stood on the edge of the boat, ready to make the giant stride, fear made my feet shake but still, I took a deep breath and made my leap.
The first dive out the way and I went from strength to strength, my confidence growing by the day. I knew, right from that first dive, from my first fins kick, that was the job I’d always wanted. The feeling was just amazing.
Later I went on to take the Advance Open Water course with instructor Michael and then the challenging Rescue
Diver Course with instructor Sean. They were both amazing courses (and really great instructors).
The courses, especially the Rescue Diver Course, left so many memories, just like I’d heard other divers say, it’s a tiring course, yet fun and rewarding. It’s hard to imagine now how much I had evolved in such a short time, from a boy who knew nothing about diving to someone who could handle emergency situations above and under the water.
During my time in Nha Trang, Rainbow Divers also gave me the opportunity to join them on Dive Against Debris – beach clean up events and artificial reef installation dives, which of course, helps the surroundings but also improved my own environmental awareness. It really is true to say divers are the ambassador of the ocean.
After the Rescue Diver Course I thought it wouldn’t be long before I became a Divemaster – I couldn’t be more wrong.
My journey to become a dive pro was just starting when I arrived on Phu Quoc island. When you’re a dive pro, it’s not just about you anymore, it comes all about your customers. I had to improve my own diving and bring it up to a professional level and develop my customer services skills.
Danny was again my instructor, though I also learned from the whole team at Rainbow Divers Phu Quoc.
Many people believe that when you do Divemaster Internship, the dive centre will treat you like a slave but this certainly wasn’t the case for me and I can honestly say it’s not true at Rainbow Divers at all.
Everyone was doing the same job. I didn’t get discriminated because I was an intern. It actually felt like I was part of a big family, everyone helping each other. We spent time together on the boat and drank together in our free time.
During the 6 months period, I learned how to navigate dive sites and lead fun dives, how to take care of customers, how to work as a team, how to deal with all kinds of problems,… There’s so many things to learn. I literally learned something new every day.
Plus, Phu Quoc island is the perfect place to train. Most of its dive sites are shallow, giving novice divers a comfortable feeling when diving and its amazing reef system allowed me to work and have fun at the same time.
The diving season in Phu Quoc ends in April, and that’s when I go back to Nha Trang as a divemaster,
ready for new challenges.
My IDC will start few months later and I have to make sure that I am ready for it. Everyone has told me that I have to be a good divemaster before I can become a good instructor, so that’s what I’m trying to accomplish now, doing my best and learning as much as I can.
If you are an interested in becoming a professional diver, our internships or anything else you’ve read about here please get in touch.