From shore to ship: joining the Royal Naval Reserves

Mark Pickett

03 / 3 / 2016 10am

Mark Pickett is a business analyst who works for Health Education England. In 2014, Mark decided to join the Royal Naval Reserves so he could maintain his civil role while pursuing his interest in a military career.

At the end of 2014, I decided the time was right to join the Royal Naval Reserves, so I had an initial conversation with my line manger about potentially joining. She spoke to our HR department on my behalf and assured me that I would be supported both by her, and the organisation if I were to join up.

Joining the Royal Naval Reserves
I contacted my local armed forces careers office (AFCO) and was invited to attend an initial careers presentation at my local naval reserve unit, which provided some information about what I could expect when I started. After that, I sat a short exam covering basic maths, English and mechanical comprehension, to help assess which branch I may be suitable to join once I finished my Initial naval training (INT) phase. The final steps of the application process were to undertake a medical examination at a local surgery and to do a fitness test which was a timed 2.4 km (1.5 mile) run.  

My first year
I am now a year into the INT phase of my training and have almost completed the requirements to pass out. In order to pass out, recruits are required to complete a number of courses, as well as attend some training weekends where you’re taught everything you need to know to prepare you for your confirmation course at HMS Raleigh. The confirmation course is a two-week block at HMS Raleigh where you are assessed on everything you’ve been taught during the INT phase. It’s been a great experience so far, I definitely feel like I’ve developed certain aspects of myself that I wouldn’t have in my ‘civvie’ job.

I’ve had opportunities to do things that I would never have been able to do were I not a reservist. Particular highlights so far have been partaking in a Remembrance Day parade in Newcastle, completing a week-long course in safe weapon handling, which included some live firing on the range, a night out in the field to learn basic field craft and survival techniques, as well as spending a couple of nights on a de-commissioned ship to learn basic sea survival techniques. All challenging in their different ways, but all good fun and all totally different from my 9-5 day job.

Transferable skills
The Royal Naval Reserves develops skills that are transferable to, and valued by, the NHS. Team working, communication and leadership are all essential criteria for any job description you look at in the NHS, and being a reservist not only gives you an opportunity to develop these skills but also to display them regularly, which I think definitely gives you a different dimension when answering interview questions. I’ll certainly never struggle to answer a time management question in an interview having spent a week at HMS Raleigh!

Thinking of joining the reserve forces?
To anyone who is thinking of becoming a reservist, I would encourage them to go for it. In just over a year, I’ve done loads of new and challenging things and once you complete your basic training, you’ll get more time and money invested in you while you complete your branch training. If that isn’t enough, the social aspect of being a reservist is excellent and you feel a part of the forces family as soon as you join. Your local AFCO will be able to answer any questions you have and there is also a wealth of information on the internet and social media to help make your mind up.

Line manager support
Mark’s line manager Sharon Talbot said; "At interview, Mark told me about his desire to join the Naval Reserves, and I had no hesitation in agreeing to support Mark in this endeavour when he joined our organisation, and would support him should he need to take extra time in order to pursue his training/military career. Mark’s enthusiasm and passion for the Royal Navy is evident and we regularly catch up about what he’s been up to with the reserves.

"Mark is also involved in the North East office’s regional forum, which was established to support veterans/reservists in the NHS. We agreed that this would both enhance and support his Naval Reserves career, in terms of broadening and strengthening his understanding of this additional part-time career choice. Again, I am more than happy to support Mark with this."

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