DVIDS – News – MSC CIVMAR and Influencer explain marine life at sea through a viral platform

Vanessa Mongiovi is an influencer on the social media platform TikTok and has amassed nearly 50,000 followers with over 418,000 likes as of May 30, 2024. Her biography teases visitors to “follow me if you are interested in becoming a merchant mariner.” .

She is well qualified to provide advice to potential applicants and those with mild curiosity. In her professional life, she is a civilian sailor, or CIVMAR, for the Military Sealift Command.

A CIVMAR is a federal government employee who pursues a career in the civil service and the Navy while assigned aboard U.S. government-owned ships that support the Navy’s warfighters and warfighting platforms around the world.

With CIVMARs comprising approximately 80 percent of MSC’s workforce, CIVMARs’ service is the backbone of MSC’s mission and plays a critical role in the Navy’s ability to operate forward every day.

Mongiovi, a shopkeeper from Williamsburg, Virginia, is assigned to the Lewis and Clark class dry freighter USNS William McLean (T-AKE 12).

On her social media channel, behind her friendly demeanor and conversational tone, she covers several topics of interest to potential candidates, or to those inclined to become merchant mariners: ‘a day at work as a merchant mariner’ (1.8 million views); “How’s the pay?” (1.3 million views); and “cleaning my cabin time” (2.4 million views).

These are just a few examples of how she gives her visitors an example of what it is like to be CIVMAR for MSC.

Its reach is not only aimed at potential applicants. She also covers current topics for new hires on how to navigate the administrative processes within MSC.

According to Mongiovi, one of the reasons she started content for merchant mariners was to create visibility in the daily lives of sailors; and how they contribute to increasing Navy readiness.

“After six years of experience, I truly believe that merchant ships do not get enough recognition for what they do,” said Mongiovi. “I wanted to spread knowledge and shine a light on everything we do every day to provide the Navy at sea with cargo, food, fuel, mail and everything else.”

She began her supply career in 2018 on the Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) for 10 months. She then transferred to the fast combat support ship USNS Arctic (T-AOE 8) for six months in 2019, before settling aboard the USNS William McLean, and has remained there ever since.

She remained a supply engineer until 2021 and moved to the logistics side of the Supply department. She then became an assistant shopkeeper until June 2023, when she became a shopkeeper.

In the six years, MSC has taken her to 22 countries: Dubai, Bahrain, Spain, Scotland, Germany, Djibouti, Oman, Greece, Italy, Israel, Gabon, Senegal, Portugal, France, Croatia, Lithuania, Norway, Portland, Plymouth, London, Poland and Canada.

“If you go to the right ports, it can feel like a never-ending vacation that you get paid for as you travel,” says Mongiovi. “The reason I took this job was because I got to travel the world, and there was the money involved.”

Mongiovi is originally from Carini, a town in Sicily, Italy. She and her family emigrated to Williamsburg, Virginia in 1999. When she was nine years old, she had to adapt to a new environment, including a new school in a new country. She started in 4th grade knowing only a few words in English.

In 2015, she would earn an associate’s degree from Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton, Virginia.

The past six years have left Mongiovi with lasting memories, but the best experience she mentions as a sailor was returning home to her childhood town when her ship made a stop in Sicily and she was able to visit Carini after more than a long time away been. 25 years.

“I can’t describe the emotions I felt leading up to seeing my family, my hometown, the house I grew up in, the church I went to, the school I went to and my grandparents’ house. ” said Mongiovi. “It was bittersweet. I finally got back; however, my grandparents were not there to see me. They both passed away years ago. Going back home has been on my bucket list for years and with MSC I was finally able to realize that.”

The launch of Mongiovi’s career began merely as a curiosity. She always wanted to have a traveling job, but wasn’t sure where to start or what that profession would entail. She considered joining the military, but didn’t like the idea of ​​having to commit to a four-year contract.

Fortunately, Mongiovi had a relative who was a merchant marine. She often listened to his stories about work, travel and adventure.

“In 2016, my niece’s father was a merchant mariner, and every time he came home, I became a little more curious about what his job entailed,” Mongiovi said. “He was the only person I knew doing that kind of work. I always wanted to travel and that’s why I asked him about it.”

Mongiovi knew she wanted to take a chance on becoming a merchant marine. However, she had to overcome some stereotypes and perceptions about the occupation.

She thought it was mainly men in the job market, and that there was no one her age. She thought she would be home sick, that she would be afraid of the ocean, or that she would not like the jobs that would be offered to her because she was not good enough.

“I was afraid of leaving my comfort zone and everything I thought this job would be,” Mongiovi said. “However, it was completely the opposite, in a positive way, and the job turned out to be everything I wanted and more.”

Now, Mongiovi hopes to use her social media channels to educate those who have any concerns or uncertainty. She wants to raise awareness about merchant ships and how anyone can join, regardless of age, as long as they are fit to do the job.

According to Mongiovi, her TikTok channel went from 1,000 followers on January 16, 2024, to 39,000 in a month and a half after she uploaded a video titled “A day at work as a merchant mariner.” The viral figures indicate a genuine interest in the seafaring profession.

“What drives me most is being able to give people what I didn’t have in this job,” says Mongiovi. “I came into it without any knowledge of what a merchant ship really was. It scared me to even enter this field without knowing what it was and what it entailed. It took me 2-3 years before I finally convinced myself to go for it.

“For example, many people, including myself, wrongly believed that you had to have been in the military to get this job. I wanted to clear things up and give anyone who was willing to listen to me the opportunity to learn more about the Merchant Navy and possibly join it and make a career out of it. I am willing to help anyone who will listen.”

Mongiovi, who goes by Nessa @vmon420 on TikTok, believes social media is a great tool to reach the masses and suits her personality perfectly as she is open to being vulnerable and transparent; and people can identify with her. The proof is in the hundreds of responses from people who thanked her and credited her with inspiring them to join the Merchant Navy.

“I honestly don’t want the ‘fear of the unknown’ surrounding this job to discourage anyone from taking this opportunity,” Nessa said. “That’s why my content plays a role in shining the light on what we actually do.”

For more information on how to become a CIVMAR, visit

MSC directs and supports operations for approximately 140 civilian-crewed ships that resupply U.S. Navy vessels at sea, conduct specialized missions, prepare combat cargo at sea around the world, perform a variety of support services, and move military equipment and supplies to deployed U.S. forces. Celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2024, MSC exists to support the joint warfighter across the full spectrum of military operations, with a workforce that includes approximately 6,000 Civil Service Mariners and 1,100 contract Marines, supported by 1,500 shore personnel and 1,400 active duty and reserve military personnel . .

Date of recording: 05-30-2024
Date posted: 29.05.2024 17:16
Story ID: 472496

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