Thinking of joining the RNR but unsure

#1
Hi all. I'm a 17 year old female who looks about 12 and is incredibly socially anxious/introverted. I'm just wondering what the process of joining the reserves is like. I understand that there are interviews, tests and medicals etc but I have a few questions on the actual joining of the RNR too.

- what will the interview be like? (It'll be my first ever if I decide to give it a go)

- how long does the recruitment process actually take? (From the initial application to the first drill night?)

- what actually happens on drill nights? (And what should I wear/how should I do my hair? Etc) and what will happen on the first night? Do we learn skills practically or is it like a sit and listen thing or something else?

- I don't want to do any weekenders or those 2 weeks away until summer next year after a levels, will this be an issue?

- as a shy teenage woman of colour, will I be an outsider? (Not like discrimination but would I be shunned because it's difficult for me to talk to people?)

- is there any other information I should know? (I would be grateful for any extra info)

Many thanks
 

CmdKeen

Lantern Swinger
#2
Hi, welcome to the site.

The first thing I would say is get along to your local unit, they will run a variety of open evenings and potentially a "live weekend" - which is a odd way of saying a structured day of activities to give you a bit more of an insight into what we do and a chance to meet other people who are aspiring to join. Each unit is different so it is useful to get an insight into what life there is like.

I can't speak on the specifics of the interview, someone else will hopefully chime in with that. From my perspective it is there to ensure you're not completely unsuitable, dangerous, haven't thought things though or don't know what you're letting yourself in for. A lot of that information would be given to you at a recruitment presentation or via the literature/website. Things like what the annual commitment is like, call-up liability etc and some exploration to check you understand you are joining the armed forces.

The process can be quite long winded, the medical process drags out for many people. There is now an "early attestation" scheme where you start attending the unit (and get paid!) much earlier in the process.

The Initial Naval Training process (everything up to your two weeks at Raleigh) is a structured classroom environment. There are practical sessions, notably learning the basics of drill, along with regular sports / physical training. The first phase of that is focused on making you "safe" in a military environment - i.e. explaining what to wear, issuing you clothes to wear, appearance, along with rank structures, terms of address. You'll also start to learn the different language that sailors speak.

The key issue will be going away on weekends. There is a greater expectation of flexibility when it comes to weekends compared to the two weeks. To emphasise, your travel is paid for and circumstances taken into account i.e. you tell them you can't leave until after 1730 on Friday. INT weekends are hard work and I wouldn't recommend doing one just before an exam. Many A level students manage to fit in INT weekends alongside the studies with no problems.

Everyone is an outsider to start with. The RN (and RNR) has a heavy emphasis on team work, effective team membership is an early lesson in INT. The key thing is that everyone has something to bring to the table, and you will find what you are good at. Some people can't march for toffee (some might say no-one in the Navy can...), others are hopeless at bulling shoes, ironing kit, personal admin, being on time, learning ranks and rates etc.

The main difference between the reserves and regulars when it comes to INT is that we have more time. It isn't unlimited but we can very much adopt a "train in, not train out" attitude. We will spend an extra few months getting you ready for Raleigh if we need to, there is absolutely no shame in that. What we expect in return is that you put in effort and make the most of the opportunities afforded. RNR instructors usually have many decades of experience and have seen hundreds of recruits pass through.

Good luck
 
#3
I have recently joined the rnr and I would definitely say go for it. The process is different to regs as if you pass the recruit test you can attest that same night and start drill nights, the rest of process is done as you start your phase 0. The interview is just talking to your afco about what's going on in life for you.
When you attest you'll generally be with the people you attested so you'll get to know them, there'll also most likely be a 40 year old whose having a mid life crisis and they'll start talking to you. You'll only be able to start doing weekends after about 4 weeks after your last part of recruitment process.
Your first drill nights are the basics and the rest I wouldn't know about.
You'll only get a uniform after you've completed all the recruitment process.
I'd definitely go for it sooner rather than later.
Good luck if you decide to go for it.
 

jrwlynch

Lantern Swinger
#4
Hi all. I'm a 17 year old female who looks about 12 and is incredibly socially anxious/introverted...

- as a shy teenage woman of colour, will I be an outsider? (Not like discrimination but would I be shunned because it's difficult for me to talk to people?)
Sugabud,

Others are giving good advice (and more up-to-date than mine) on many areas, but the part I've quoted I can empathise with strongly.

I joined what was then the TA in 1989, as a painfully shy bespectacled geek of no discernible military worth. I did have to make an effort to reach out and engage with people, to communicate, and to generally get stuck in both for training and socially, and I wouldn't claim I did it particularly well.

However, I was met much more than halfway, both by the training staff and most of my fellow trainees, and began to discover how to do it better, and how to actually enjoy the social interaction as well as the training and exercises. What helped me, was that I could put on the uniform and use it as a mask; I was expected to be able to communicate and cope, given chances to do so, and helped to do so. That then spread across to my normal daily life... I went for a TA commission, didn't get it (for reasons that were sensible - disappointing but appropriate, still a bit too introverted and also the wrong style of leadership and command on show), but came out very glad I gave it a go.


A decade later I was pushed towards the RNR, applied, got in, passed AIB, survived Dartmouth, and made it through Fleet Board, and now at weekends I'm Lieutenant Jrwlynch. (Bow and worship, mere mortals!), all somewhat to my surprise - though older and a little more worldly, I'm still not a naturally outgoing person. But, again, the uniform acts as a mask; it's easier to speak up or join in or take charge when you're wearing the rig that says you should be able to, and once you're actually doing it, it becomes almost a habit and easier to do whenever you need to.


I can't guarantee it'll work as well for you as it did for me, but I certainly found joining the Reserves to be very helpful at mitigating my lack of confidence and poor social skills (for those here who know me in real life, you should have seen me back then...) as well as generally interesting and enjoyable. You will still have to make an effort to reach out and join in, but your unit staff will be keen to help you: either to get onto the trained strength, or if it really isn't suitable for you, to step back out with their thanks for trying. CmdKeen's spot on with his description - everyone has strengths they bring and weaknesses they need help to cover, and some need more time to settle in and get comfortable with each step than others.


I'd strongly advise starting the process and seeing how it goes: it's easy to bail out of if you really decide "not for me" (though I'd recommend a talk with your unit staff before just jacking it in, if you hit a rough spot) but much harder to go back and think "wish I'd done that when I had the chance..."
 
#5
2 absolutely cracking replies there.

To back up what they have said abut being an introvert and 'wearing' a mask, it is not only the RNR who has these. I know of many in regular forces who where / are the same.
I was a small, introverted geek when I joined up over 40 years ago. After 17 years of being outside I still use the experience and 'mask' the RN gave me to get through life.

I am now a slightly fatter, introverted geek but I now have lots of sea dits (stories) to hide behind at the bar!

Do it @Sugabud - you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
 
#7
@Sugabud
I note that you have not yet replied to any of the posts, all of which contain some excellent advice, standfast this drivel:
..... there'll also most likely be a 40 year old whose having a mid life crisis and they'll start talking to you.
which probably is an unhelpful retort to long-standing members trying to make you welcome.

I would follow what has generally been stated. Get down to your local unit and, in effect, interview them. We don't bite.
 

Ninja_Stoker

War Hero
Moderator
#8
Some tip-top advice on this thread, nothing to add on that score.

The selection interview is all about you, so the odds are you will feel fairly knowledgeable on that topic. Most people coming out of the interview will tell you it felt like an informal chat about random stuff and that it was a breeze, so my advice is don't stress about it, relax. :)
 

Trainer

War Hero
Book Reviewer
#9
@Sugabud
I note that you have not yet replied to any of the posts, all of which contain some excellent advice, standfast this drivel:
which probably is an unhelpful retort to long-standing members trying to make you welcome.

I would follow what has generally been stated. Get down to your local unit and, in effect, interview them. We don't bite.
Emergency Banter, just break Glass!!:D
 
#13
Even if she did not get to read the responses, I know of at least one, equally shy of posting, who read them avidly and will soon be attending an information evening. So many thanks to all those who responded with such care and thoughtfulness. I'm sure the posts will help others too.
 

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