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DGE Warfare Officer 2019 Application: My journey.


I've seen others post about their journey through applications, and I thought that it might be helpful for others that are in my situation (and helpful for me to self reflect), if I shared my process too.

A bit about me: I am a recent graduate (MA International Relations (East Asia), Durham), currently living in Durham and working in Newcastle as a Careers Adviser currently living in Lincoln, working in secretarial at the hospital. I was born in Greater Manchester, where I lived until I was 7 years old, before moving to rural Lincolnshire, where I completed my education in primary and then a comprehensive secondary, before starting studies at the University of Hull (BA War and Security Studies, 2012-2015). My father was born in Hong Kong and has been a Policeman most of his life (he was also in the TA (REME) back when we lived in Manchester).

I spent my extra-curricular time in childhood engaged as a Sea Cadet (2005-2011) and in various drama groups including a weekend theatre school. When I reached A Levels, I also began to participate in fencing (the sport, not the crime) which i ended up doing regularly for 7 years. While a Sea Cadet, I particularly enjoyed dinghy sailing, and I also spent much time yacht sailing with my grandfather in the Med. In my final year of undergraduate studies I spent 5-months as a parliamentary intern in the Westminster office of a prominent MP.

I first decided that I wanted to become a Naval Officer back when I was 13/14, but I didn't really start to move towards getting in until the final year of university. Yes, I am one of those fools that now regrets not starting an application while at uni. After graduating I started work in sales for a software company while I prepared to apply to the Navy. I had to wait a little as I needed to have an operation which I had recovered from by October 2015.

My first application

After breezing through the RT and feeling very confident from conversations with AFCO, I awaited my medical and fitness tests. At the opticians I discovered that I actually needed glasses, but my prescription is very minor and well within the requirements for the role. Medical took about 2 months to get, and going in to the medical, everything seemed to be fine, but I had to be TMU'd while they checked up on history (I think it was the broken arm from back when I was 2... may have also been the recent operation). Now this is, as with many applicant, where things really slowed down for me.

I chased up my GP every single week, but I kept getting fobbed off, and in the end it took all of 6 months-ish to come through and have me cleared for fitness test. Fitness test was fine (it was done at a YMCA gym in Lincoln) and I got about 10:46 something like that I think.

Moving on to Sift, I prepared for it my thoroughly researching navy knowledge and warfare branch, as well as thining about the OAQ answers I had given as a guide to the Sift questions. At this time I also came into regular contact with a mutual friend who was (and still is) a serving officer who had started out in warfare and transferred to logs later. We regularly met up in a cafe and he became a mentor for me moving through Sift and towards my AIB.

I reached AIB in December 2016 (after about 14 months since I put in my application). In the next post I will explain what happened at that AIB, what happened after it, and where I am today with my second application.
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Admiralty Interview Board

Finally I was here; the part of recruitment we all dream about and dread in equal measure. Arriving at Sultan immediately brought back memories of my week at Ralleigh I had experienced as a Sea Cadet. To be perfectly honest, with all the nerves and anticipation, much of the detail of AIB is hazy to me now, reflecting on it two years on. But I remember the incredibly detailed run-through of the PLT by the ABs being particularly well delivered. I remember making brief introductions with the other candidates, being shown to the mess, which seemed remarkable empty, with many more spare rooms than candidates. I remember us being offered to have dinner on site, or the option of going down to the Cocked Hat, which we opted to do. I remember the high spirits we were all in, and what a good sort every candidate seemed to be. We were made up on a fairly diverse group (well not gender-wise), with there being another guy with a very similar background to myself also going for Warfare; the youngest guy being an A Level student, who actually confided that he was planning to not go to BRNC if he got into a specialist rating role or something that he was going for; an RM Sgt. who was going for officer; an ME Senior Rate going for officer; a guy who worked in journalism who was going for RNR; and others.

Our Syndicate started day 2 with PLTs. I was the first to lead in the individual for my syndicate. In the time I had to plan the exercise I remembered everything that had been taught to us and came up with a sound plan. Then for whatever dumb reason I second guessed myself and this put me in a confused state. I think it might be fair to say that with my limited work and life experience at this point, I wasn't used to being put in situations like that under pressure and I did not do too well out of it. I started off committed to my plan, but somewhere in the middle I remember my doubts resurfacing and I ended up coming off as indecisive. Throughout the team and individual tasks I did make sure that I was clear and loud, as we were constantly instructed to be by the board. But my poor performance in my own individual task put me in a state of worry that no doubt had some part to play in what came next.

After the PLTs we moved onto PLANEX. I'm not going to go into details on the scenario or anything, but I'll talk about it from an experiential point of view. Now, having just come out of a degree in war studies, I was well used to kriegspiele, crisis and diplo sims, etc., and that fact, coupled with my overconfidence and my attempt to overcompensate for mistakes made in PLT made me both far too assertive and complacent. In the team discussion, I definitely tried to take the lead, though I also tried to encourage another member of the syndicate who was being quiet to participate. Nonetheless I was definitely too leading, and on reflection did not show myself to be a great team player.

Moving on after lunch we did the essay and psychometric tests. The psychometric tests were certainly more challenging than the RT was, but still not too bad, its really more the time pressure than anything, but thats the point I guess. As for the essay, academics really isn't my weak spot so that was fine.

After this we had the interview, of which I actually remember precious little. I do remember there being less naval knowledge than I expected, though I fell down a little on career pipeline, and somehow my mind went blank and I forgot the word 'division' completely and had to be reminded by Lieutenant Commander Blick. I also remember regretting not having said a whole lot of stuff that was central to my proving motivation for joining and I felt really bad for that after the interview.

The last thing we did was the run, and here we get to another foolish mistake of mine at the time. In all of my prep for that application, I was an idiot and never practised running outside. I never realised just how different it would be, and bear in mind that this was December. In the end I came dangerously close to failing.

While I was still panting from the run I was taken in for debrief with the President. Lt Col.. Wilson sat me down and said. "Well, unfortunately we won't be forwarding you for selection today..." being already worn out from the run, that bombshell was the straw that broke my back. The President told me that I had been good on the psychometrics and the essay, and that the interview was fine (which I was a little surprised at), but then he explained to me the problems I had in the PLT and PLANEX, which are clearly the most important parts of the whole AIB. What it boiled down to, as I already suggested above was that I had been too assertive in PLANEX and not assertive enough in PLT. So in other words, I'd rather got the two mixed up - a quip I somehow managed to muster in that moment despite my exhaustion. He told me to go away and get some more life experience and decide if I really wanted to join, and then if I did I could come back and try again.

Que the longest quietest 4-hour drive with my Dad I've ever experienced.

In truth, this was the first real taste of failure I had ever experienced, and no doubt that is part of why I failed. I was too inexperienced, I was too overconfident, and as a result of both I was arrogant. Returning home, not knowing what to do with myself I returned to work (at this point I was working as a secretary in a forensic mental health service), but I knew I had to do something to get my head back into gear. I eventually settled on returning to university and got offers to study at St Andrews and Durham.

Starting at Durham in October 2017, I began my Masters in East Asian International Relations. At this point I had already begun to learn some Chinese, so I continued with that alongside my study. At this point, I was taking Maj. Wilson's feedback on board and at least trying to think about other career options that might be for me. During my studies at Durham I had some time to reflect on my personality and my values. I found myself at one point in a happenstance situation that proved to myself that I can operate and think effectively under pressure (I was the only person on the scene of a bizzare incident of a van driver being run down by his own van on a steep hill, I'm not really going to go through the whole thing here). At one point in the course our college received visitors from the Royal College of Defence Studies, and I was one of a small number chosen to meet with them at a formal networking event. My conversations with these students, including high-ranking military personnel from a host of different countries, reinvigorated my desire to enter military service, and I began very strongly thinking about it once again.

Towards the end of my studies, I decided to work to and submit my dissertation 6 weeks early so that I could take part in an internship in Beijing, as part of the British Council's generation UK - China programme. All of the experiences I have had since that AIB have made me a better rounded person, but all of them have equally reminded me that my heart is truly set on becoming a Naval Officer.

As a person, I have wide ranging interests - everything from history and politics, to geography, physics, the arts, and more. As a result I find myself able to gel with all sorts of people from all sorts of backgrounds with relative ease, yet I have rarely felt like I was in 'my place'. When I look at people in the naval service, and at BRNC, I cannot help but picture myself in their shoes, and when I look, something just tells me that is the place for me.

Ergo, I have restarted my application to join the navy as a Warfare Officer and in the next post I will talk more about my current application, how I feel about it, and what I have learned from my past mistakes and successes.
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Towards a new application

My time in China had been fascinating and fast-paced, yet eye-opening. Returning to the UK, my thoughts were firmly on the future, yet I was also in a reflective mood, thinking of the past. At that point, I had secured a job in a financial services company based in Dubai which would start a few months after my return to the UK. Yet as I sat there in Dubai airport, waiting for my transfer to Manchester, my mind turned to that AIB, and to my life-long dream. I realised that if ever I was to achieve my dream, this was more-or-less my last chance. Having already turned 24, time was short if I wanted to get into Warfare and I knew that I had to act quick, or forever hold my regrets.

After arriving in the UK, I returned to Durham and put in my new application to the RN. My RT was on January 3rd, this time done at HMS Caliope - which is quite a bit more of an impressive building than the Lincoln AFCO. The test itself was again little challenge, but it was nice to once again meet others who to some extent shared my ambition to join the navy - though this time I was the only one going for navy officer (apart from the kid going for welbeck), though there were a couple going for RM officer.

Medical triage came through quite quickly, and thankfully they were able to see my notes from the previous application, but sadly I'm TMU once again. This time its because I was prescribed an inhaler when I was 7 for hay fever - not really sure why they didn't check on this the first time around. Nonetheless, I never used the thing, it was given more as a precaution than anything, and I've certainly not been prescribed one in the last 15 years so its nothing to worry about. The only concern I have here is that it means another delay (remember that last time it took 6 months for my GP to release notes), and my time is short enough.

From where I am writing today, I am less than a week since triage, hoping that the chase-up will be more successful this time.

This time around I am primarily running outside - hoping to rectify my mistake of not doing so last time. I'm also studying the training and career pipeline vigorously, since I was a little poor on this last time around. Besides reviewing the info from @Ninja_Stoker I've also been reading through resumes of Ship and Shore Est. COs that the Navy website helpfully provides, just to have an idea of how different seniors' careers have been structured or panned out.

There isn't a day that I don't think about becoming an officer in the Navy (there's scarcely an hour if I am honest), I can only work hard to rectify my past mistakes, and hope that I can make (and pass) AIB before I pass the age requirement for my role.

Here I will leave it for a bit - I'm in no delusions this time around at how long it could take for me to get to AIB, so I'll pick things up again once I've progressed further in a few months time.
A good read & insight on your last AIB experience, you will do well in your next try I'm sure as you have assessed where you went wrong last time. Perhaps try not to put too much pressure on yourself and relax a bit as well. Best of luck in the application process again. :)


Medical and PJFT

It has been some time since my last post, but things have moved on enough now for me to provide an update. While my application has progressed, I have also changed jobs and I now work as an employer adviser for the National Apprenticeship Service, still based in Newcastle and living in Durham.

I got my medical through after a fairly short delay - I had to harass my GP practise manager a bit but it got the job done. I was given a medical in Middlesbrough which was a bit of a trek having to get back to Newcastle for work immediately after. Nevertheless I made it to the AFCO at Middlesbrough and after a surprisingly enjoyable breakfast at a nearby cafe, proceeded into the appointment with the doctor. There's not really that much to say about this stage, its all pretty standard and the Dr said I looked fine to him.

Medical hoop jumped through, I then received my PJFT date and location, which was another mighty trek. In this case it cost me all of about £38 to get to and from the gym in gosforth. In the course of the test for some reason I had a bit of anxiety which I haven't experienced on a run before, nontheless I kept going through out, though did not do a sprint finish, and made a time of 10:54 which I can definitely improve upon, but is well within the new maximum for 15-24 of 12:16.

This is where a slightly unexpected delay came apparently due to the sheer volume of current applicants. Having passed the PJFT back in March, I was given a sift/career discussion date of 29th May. The only real upside was that it meant that I was able to do a POV beforehand, which I will detail in the next post.


POV/POC 12-15 May 2019

Last time I applied to join the Navy I was not offered a Potential Officer Visit. This time I was and I leapt at the opportunity.

I was initially given the opportunity to apply back in January, immediately after passing the RT, in an email from my ACLO. I responded with the date of the POV and I wanted to do and more or less forgot about it for a few months. Then, suddenly in April I received an email saying that I had been admitted to the POV that I had requested, and should await details for transportation to follow.

The journey to Collingwood

The week before the event I was sent a code to print off return tickets from Durham to Fareham. I travelled down to Fareham on the Sunday and after an epic journey was met at Fareham station by our hosting ACLO, Lt W. We were pointed to the waiting coach and waited for the rest of the visitors to arrive. On the coach, we all made our introductions and discussed where we were with our applications. There was quite a variety ranging from one guy who was awaiting medical triage call, to two candidates who both had their AIB dates in the next week. It was clear that many of us came from quite different backgrounds, but despite our differences, its hard to ignore a certain hard to articulate commonality between us all, which makes you feel like you're in a sort of like-minded company.

Moving onto Collingwood, we were given our passes and checked into the wardroom. At dinner we all got to know each other a little better, and enjoyed a brief tour of the wardroom, whose main body consists of two bars, a dining hall and an alarming number of tea/coffee rooms, all adorned with a plethora of historical naval paraphernalia (something which is clearly a theme in military establishments).

I have to admit, I struggled to sleep that night, largely thanks to the heat of the student-accommodation-like cabin - whose radiator I could not seem to turn off. I woke from the few hours I did sleep shortly before 05:30 and prepared for the day ahead.

Day 1

Wardroom and Mercury building

We met for breakfast at 7:30 before changing to gym kits and heading out of the ward room. We went first to the Mercury building, where we had an exceptionally informative brief by the IWO Nav lecturer. Crucially we were able to see an actually up-to-date version of the training pipeline for warfare (the most recent publicly available one being a few years outdated). Besides this, we got to see WECDIS, and were told about changes to training - notably the removal of paper charts from the syllabus - and about the warfare sub-specialisation.

The information on sub-specialisations I found to be particularly useful, as its quite hard to get good information from outside the service given that AFCO advisers are ratings from across the spectrum, and ACLOs are rarely in your own branch of choice. In particular, I liked the sound of Fighter Controller and would look to find more information later on in the week.


Afterwards we moved to the RN Leadership Academy where we were given a series of team exercises by a WO and PO. I won't give you a detailed description of each of the tasks we did, only to say that the staff did a good job of demonstrating to us certain skills and attitudes that make PLT/Team tasks much easier, such as:

- Be clear and positive in your communication
- Don't get too involved in the task, its really hard to lead a task if you can't see what's going on
- Don't give up on a task just because it doesn't seem possible to complete

The last thing we did was a trust exercise where we each took in in turns to stand on a platform and fall back into the arms of the team, with one person leading the exercise. All of the tasks were a bit silly but quite fun, and I have to say it did wonders to break the ice for us - after this series of activities the whole POC became much closer and less reserved towards one another.

Horsea Island and HMS Kent

After lunch we headed out on the coach to the Defence Diving School on Horsea Island. We had a brief on MCDO specialisation, MCMV and Fleet Diving Units, etc, as well as what sort of work they do and where they deploy. We were then given a quick tour of the pool and shown some of the different types of systems they use for diving and as we walked several members of the POC asked questions about career pipeline for MCDO.

We then returned to the coach and were transported to HMS Kent. We were taken to the wardroom on board where I encountered a familiar face - a guy in my year at uni who had been on the same internship programme at parliament, who was on his SFT. We were given a tour of the bridge and operations room before returning to the wardroom for Q&A with the YOs and the Navigating Officer. It was interesting to hear the diversity of experiences different YOs have had during CFT and SFT, and it was quite useful to get their opinions on training and career as they were right in the middle of it.

I'm aware that this post is going to be extremely long, so I will post this for now and continue to talk about the rest of day 1, day 2 and my reflection on on the experience later.


Wardroom Conservatory and Bar

After returning from HMNB Portsmouth we met in the conservatory for a fireside chat with Collingwood (then) XO, Cdr Mark Walker (now Collingwood CO). Cdr Walker gave us an enlightening summary of his long and exceptionally varied career as an FAA helicopter pilot. This meeting offered an extremely useful insight to the long-term career prospects the Royal Navy offers and a rather candid image of a life spent in the naval service.

We met IWOC (Initial Warfare Officer Consolidation course) YOs for dinner and drinks, which offered another opportunity to get an insight into the training process and the general feelings of the young officers, all of whom having completed the majority of phase 1 and 2 of training.

Day 2

Wardroom, Lewin, Rubber Road and Mercury

This day was a bit of a whirlwind so I will keep it as brief as I can.

At breakfast I had a chance to speak with the OOD, a Lt Adam Forest, who offered an interesting perspective, having come up as SUY, experiencing life both as a rating and an officer. I took the opportunity to ask for any advice he could offer a direct entrant candidate, given his insight.

We headed over to Lewin and checked in our PEDs before hearing from a submariner officer. There were a couple of candidates going fo subs so it offered them a chance to get the inside line on the submariner warfare officer pipeline and life.

Afterwards we heard from a CPO on electronic warfare - which was interesting, though compared with all of the other activities, a little less relevant at our stage.

Next we heard from a Lt Cdr from the INT branch. Specifically she explained to us the recent development of the direct entry INT officer programme as part of the newly independent INT branch.

We moved over to the Rubber Road, a rather interesting building that might have been storage originally. We first visited the Mine Warfare deck where we were toured by a MWO Lt. We were given a brief on mine warfare today, shown the mine warfare simulator where a couple of rating were in live training, before being taken to see some of the equipment including unmanned vehicles.

We moved over to Mercury to have a go on the Fleet Work Trainer. During maneuvres, one of the candidates couldn't resist the urge to unload some ordanance and was thereafter dubbed "missiles".

Then we had a brief from an observer on aviation warfare and FAA careers, before moving back to the rubber road where we got a go on various close range weapons simulators.

After a brief talk with a PO from ceremonial, we toured the Sports and Recreation Centre which gave a good look at some of the facilities and activities on offer at Collingwood. All in all, the facilities are exceptionally good, with both general and specific training facilties.

After dinner in the Wardroom we headed back out to Mercury to see the bridge trainer in action. The simulator offered an impressively immersive experience, and is clearly a vital asset in the delivery of officer and crew training.

With the last of the day we returned to the Wardroom where our diligent host ACLO had arranged an off-schedule chat with a Fighter Controller. Given that I had become recently interested in this sub specialisation. This offered a vital insight into the pipeline for FC, and gave me the opportunity to ask questions about the role specifics, and in particular what the role had entailed in the interim between harriers and lightning II. We closed out with more drinks with the IWOCs before retiring (some later than others).

Home and AIB Prep

The next morning we returned on the coach to Fareham station and onwards back home. As a group, we got a long very well and have kept in contact ever since. As I write this, 5 candidates have had and passed AIB and at least 3 have been selected for September starts.

I met with my ACLO a few weeks later and went over my past application. It was good to get a refresher on where I went wrong the last time, and we made plans for my next AIB. My ACLO was happy that I was ready to have another go at it, so he put me in the pool, and a month or so later I received my date of 9/10th October.

From one of the other candidates at Collingwood, I heard that another POV was available, this time to BRNC Dartmouth. It occurred that CNR had decided it was a good idea to get some candidates down for a POV to Dartmouth to coincide with the Open Day happening on 27th July. As such it was a slightly last-minute arrangement, but I was able to make arrangements to attend and I will detail this visit in my next post.


POV BRNC Dartmouth July 2019

Going to keep this one fairly brief as it is a few months ago now. This was a really great experience and a great opportunity to see what things are really like at the college on a day to day. The event itself led up to and included the BRNC open day so it was great to see the college really put on a show. On the day of arrival we were taken straight to our cabins at Hardy Block before being given a quick tour of the college and its facilities. We had dinner in the JGR and got to know the first of the two hosting ACLOs and each other. On the first evening we went to the bar and met a couple of the medical backphasers who were incredibly insightful on their experiences thus far, and college life in general. Scenery was gorgeous with great views down to the mouth of the Dart, and in the late summer haze we were treated to some memorable sunsets.

Day 2 was the really active day with low ropes and teambuilding exercises, a visit to sand quay including a runabout on a rhib, and chats with instructors and current cadets. The final full day was pretty packed with all the open day displays and events. I particularly enjoyed chatting with some of the international cadets and hearing about how their programme works, including how it fits into their careers back home. We also got to see a display of an IMF routine and got to chat to the cadets afterwards to get some top tips on getting fit for Dartmouth. In the evening we joined in the staff social which was a bit of a ceilidh and barrels of fun. We also had the chance to speak with other cadets including the SUYs to find out about how their course and experience of Dartmouth differs.

All in all, probably the biggest takeaway from the visit was just getting a little familiar with the layout of the college and the way that people live and work in the environment. It was definitely a good way to get excited for Dartmouth.

But before I could really think to much about that, I needed to get past the final step.
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AIB October 2019

This was it, the part it really all builds up to and boils down to. The part I had been unable to surmount those 3 years ago.

In the run up to my AIB I spent a lot of time thinking about where I had gone wrong last time. This blog really was a part of that and has helped me to consolidate and reflect on my previous experiences to better prepare for my next steps. I also hope that it might have offered others a chance to have an insight from someone who has been there and done that twice over now.

Well I arrived at AIB with overnight accomodation as I had travelled a long way. This was quite a beneficial arrangement since it gave me time to settle in a little the night before. I also had the chance to meet the previous board who were just being shown the PLT and PlanEx ropes. I got some dinner with the duty rating which offered a nice opportunity to have a fairly casual chat and take the opportunity to hear about his career and ambitions.

The following morning I was woken fairly early by the beating rain and the eager candidates from the previous board who were waking ready for their big assessment day. I had breakfast with them and another candidate from my board who had arrived later the night before, and then we had a few hours to kill before we needed to meet up with the reast of the people from our two syndicates. I used this time mainly to practise speed/distance/time equasions, planning exercises, and read the Navy News which I had picked up in WHSmiths on the way down.

We met for the AIB brief followed by the fitness test. For the run the weather was nice and clear, however heavy rain earlier that morning had left one corner of the pitch muddy and slippery. We lined up and went off. WIth the slippy corner there was a lot of requirement to really slow down which was a bit awkward, but I really started to run into some issues about lap 4-5. For some reason I was having difficulty getting oxygen to my brain and my muscles and I was really starting to feel it - with dizzyness and a lot of pain in the legs. I was adamant that I was going to keep pushing through it, though I struggled to maintain the pace I was hoping for. As I approached the final lap I was really feeling it, but I reached down inside and gave the last leg my all. I sprinted accross the finish line, not really sure if I had done enough to make the time or not, but just trying to focus on walking in a straight line back to the AIB.

I put all thoughts of the run out of my mind, thinking it was better to assume that I had passed, and just focused on what was next. Next up we were taken to the gym to be shown the techniques for the PLT. These hadn't really changed at all from the last time, and the same was also true of the PLanEx, besides the fact that you now type up your plan instead of writing an academic essay.

We finished out day 1 with dinner, which we opted to have at AIB rather than heaing to the pub. We spent time in the evenign getting to know each other better and going through the PLT techniques again. We all went to bed reasonably early, eager to get the next day's assessments over with.


Day 2

My syndicate was the first to do the PLTs. The last time I was here I ended up being a bit like a rabbit caught in headlights so I was really focusing on drawing on all the experiences that I have had since the last time. In the team exercise I played my part and made helpful contributions where appropriate. We very nearly achieved the time but kept going strong until the very end. Throughout the other candidates' tasks I made sure to stay switched on 100%, paying attention particularly to what the other team members were doing and occasionally making suggestions when the team leader was stuck for ideas. Notably, we did fall in to the pool/mat area and I did pick up a minor injury during one task, but I didnt feel it until after the whole thing was over. Throughout these tasks I gave my absolute best effort, jumping in to save equipment that went in the pool, and doing as instructed in as timely manner as I could to help the team leader as much as possible, making suggestions where helpful but never taking over someone else's task. It finally came to my task and I set about it with as much urgency and decisiveness as I could muster. The first stage of my plan did not go quite as planned so I had to adapt on the fly and direct my team without losing focus. I did run into a second issue later, which I don't believe was predictable without having that specific experience before, but the important thing is that when I saw that we were not moving fast enough with that option, I quickly changed the plan up to using an alternative route that was more likely to succeed, though was slower. In the end, I don't believe that any task was completed, but we all gave 100% throughout and never gave up and that is absolutely the most important thing you can do.

We returned nice and wet to the AIB and quickly changed for our PlanEx. The scenario we were given was reasonably straight forward but there were a lot of details and vague potential routes that made it quite hard to suss. In the team discussion I really focused on not repeating my mistakes from last time - namely by not trying to dominate the discussion, taking notes when others were contributing and making my own contributions in as helpful a manner I could. In questioning I ended up picking up quite a lot of the questions that other candidates couldn't answer, but I did also lose a few under my own questioning period. When it came to typing up the plan I spent more time than I should have in debating with myself on which direction I would take. In the end I mostly stuck to the team plan, with one slight adjustment based on new information. In the final individual presentation, I delivered my plan clearly and confidently and held up well under questioning, defending my choices based on the judgements I had made.

Psychometrics aren't really much worth talking about as they are pretty standard, but it is worth mentioning that this period does give you some time to take a well-needed breather. In the interview, things were slightly different as I had been there before, but I delivered my answers very confidently and considered the core values and competencies with every answer. When asked about training and career specifics, thanks to the POVs I was quite strong, so the N2 did his best to find the limit of my knowledge, which he did manage to do. When I got something a little wrong, I accepted that and we moved straight on. With the final minutes of my interview, I really focused on talking about what I had done to put myself out of my comfort zone in order to really make the positive changes that I needed to make after failing last time round, as well as what I really thought I could bring to the role.

Interview done, the only thing remaining was the dreaded wait for results. It so happened that my board president was the same person as with my last AIB. He invited me to sit and asked me how I felt I had done. AT this point I was really worried about the PlanEx in particular because I felt I might have underperformed, particularly with my plan. To my elation, the next words he said were something to the effect of "we will be forwarding you for selection, and I think you can be fairly confident in it". It is truly hard to descirbe the feeling I experienced when he uttered those words. I could see from the reaction on his face that he was really pleased with how I took it. He told me that I had clearly taken real steps to improve, and I showed them just how much I wanted this. Now I am not the type to get terribly emotional, but when he told me that, I came very close to tears as it dawned upon me that all my hard work really had paid off. All the way up to that point, as much as I fronted confidently and hoping for the best, there is always that part of you that has to ask if what you're doing is good enough, and if you are really appropriate for this job. To have all of that blown away and your hard work validated is a truly overwhelming feeling. Now I was honest with him in that moment and I said that I knew I have a lot of work to do still and so much to still work on, but I was so pleased to be given this chance.

Reflecting back on the whole experience, I think what really must have carried me through was my attitude. Even when my run was going poorly, even after being hurt on the PLT, or when our bridge collapsed for the 4th time, I just plowed on, without a seconds delay, staying focused and giving it my all. In my interview I was truly honest and I focused on demonstrating the values I hold and the lessons I have really learned from. I was confident through out and always played a supporting role in any team element.

All I have to do now is wait for selection. I was told to be confident so I am going to treat that as a really good sign. I still may not get in for next intake or event he one after that, but if that is the case I will 100% go back and I know that I can build on what I have learned from the second time round as much as I did the first.

All that really remains for me to say with this is, if you really want the job, make it show. Focus on your values and what you have to offer. Be really self-reflective and try to demonstrate how you make positive changes and learn from your mistakes. If you fail the first time, don't shrug it off and just try again, really take a look at yourself. Take some time out and put yourself out of your comfort zone.

This has been a super long series of posts, so if anyone has had the patience to read it through I am really grateful. I hope that others can learn from the mistakes I made before and the positive steps I have taken since.

I will post again with an update should I be selected to start, but otherwise I wish everyone the very best of success with all of your applications!

Thank you.


Epilogue: Selection

When I was told that I had passed, one of the things that my board president assured me was that time would now fly. I must say however that in the run up to the selection board meeting, time did anything but.

If it is fair to say that not a day went by during the application where I did not think about the Navy then during this stage of the process there was scarcely an hour. Time has dragged, but at long last the day has arrived.

I spent the entire day running through it in my head, hoping that I might just make it onto the next intake. I did not expect to hear immediately, rather thinking it might be a day or two before the news reached me.

Instead, it came as I was sat at my PC in the late afternoon after work. I received an email informing me that I had a new message on my application portal. Naturally my heart leapt. I went straight to the portal and logged in, only to be greeted by a fairly simple and innocuous message:

Event Invite:
09:00- 17:00 HRS - 13 JANUARY 2020
Accept - Reject

And that is how I learned of my selection. Naturally I knew that I could expect a formal letter to follow, but this was quite a way to learn of it. It has been quite a journey, getting here, yet as one ends, so another begins.

All that remains to be said is that I anticipate my naval career with determination, excitement, and just a little apprehension.

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