Newbie - I would say that just taking the first step is the key. There are a lot of companies, lots of various types of boats, and so much information to try to digest in a short amount of time, that it makes ones head spin just thinking about it. My suggestion would be to try an operator that is large enough to allow you opportunities, and upward advancement, as well as offering a diverse fleet to think about as you increase the scope of your license. In your case, with a 200 ton NC license, I would consider starting off on crew boats, and working my way up from there. Most new generation vessels - other than crew boats, and mini supply boats - are well over 200 gross tons US Regulatory, so that somewhat limits what you can consider your first time out.
A few suggestions - Edison Chouest Offshore, Tidewater Marine, and Seacor to name a few - All well established companies, offering benefits, and that have operations that include a range of vessels from crewboats, to Research and Specialty vessels. Each offers a web page with quite a bit of information.
Best way to approach it is to be ready to fly down and be standing in their waiting room if they express any interest in new applicants at all.
If you have any more questions, throw them out there and we’ll try to get them answered for you…El C