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RAF Recruitment – Case Studies

Added: 17th February 2022 by Royal Air Force

Joining the RAF

What encouraged you to join the RAF?

I joined the RAF when I was 16 years old. I had dreamed of joining the Forces since the age of 13. I wanted to be a part of something that I viewed as special and respected. I had an urge to be challenged yet supported and developed; I knew I would have an exciting and wholesome life where I could learn and grow as a young woman.

Recruitment Process/Initial Training/Specialist Training

What parts of the recruitment process do you remember the most? Why?

During my time at Halton, allI seem to remember was the ironing, marching and eating dinner so quickly there was hardly any time to breathe. My Phase 2 training as a Junior Rank brought me back to earth; I was 16 and really did not anticipate how long the days would be. Looking back now I appreciate how hard my 16-year- old self had worked to maintain the standards expected of me.

Fast forwards 17 years and I embark on a new career path, taking my Commission. I thoroughly enjoyed Initial Officer Training. Every day was different; I was challenged intellectually, stimulated mentally and pushed physically as I progressed through the course. I learnt things about myself that I hadn’t realised I needed to learn and enhanced key skills and characteristics I already held.

Life in the RAF - What it's really like

Find out what a day in the life looks like for Elizabeth and Zrar, clear up any misconceptions you may have about working in the RAF and hear their advice for starting your RAF career.

My Engineering Specialist training was great. It provided me with all the foundational skills and tools to enter the Engineering Branch where I would then consolidate and establish myself as an Engineering Officer. I thoroughly enjoyed all the modules; however, the end formative Exercise was true to life where its mirrored life as a CE Eng Officer. At the end of the Exercise Phase I couldn’t wait to do the job for real.

I was also happy to find out on graduation day that I was awarded the Chicksands Cup, which is given to the student who achieves that highest academic results.

If you could go back, what advice would you give yourself about the recruitment process?

I would say relax, trust and be patient. The recruitment process isn’t there to fail you or highlight areas of lesser strength. It is there to enhance and develop key characteristics required to serve in the RAF and become the best version of yourself. The process is designed to identify and develop personal attributes and characteristics that result in becoming a leader and a professional.

What elements of Initial Training do you remember the most? Why?

Without doubt, all the different Exercises. They brought all the training modules together in one consolidated enactment of what ‘real life’ Command would be like.

If you could go back to dispel one myth / preconception about Initial Training, what would it be?

I would dispel the myth that all Directing Staff are ogrishly and frightening. They are selected on their professional and military leadership merit to facilitate an environment where they get the best out of you. I have a handful of Staff to thank for my current position in the RAF because they believed in me and pushed me to realise my potential.

How did you find the transition from civilian to military lifestyle?

I found it hard initially, however this was due to my age. I was a young adult finding my own voice and identity. The RAF offered me opportunities I will be forever grateful for where I was able to form my identity and become the person I am today.

What responsibilities do you have? How do you think this compares to if you had an equivalent civilian job?

I aid in the monitoring and assessing SafetyManagement(SM)processes applied by the providers of engineering services (i.e., contractors and industry delivery teams) to BM Force to ensure they are correct, compliant and assured against extant policy and engineering good practice.

I provide Safety Engineering specialist technical advice and guidance to the CoCon Engineering SM processes and Safety Case development, management and review.

My current role is embedded within an HQ and I predominantly engage with civilian contractors and Civil Service personnel. As a specialist I do not envisage my primary role being different in theory to that of a civilian Safety Engineer. However, the context in which I support, i.e. military and operationally focussed Air Traffic Management systems is very different.

What’s the best part about your current job/role?

I gain great satisfaction when I identify a safety problem and offer a safety engineering solution that mitigates or reduces potential Risk to Life.

Professional and Personal Development

What further educational opportunities have you had that relate to your role?

I completed a full time MSc in Safety Critical Systems Engineering at the University of York in Nov 2020. This was fully supported and endorsed by my Branch and is classed as Advanced Pre-employment Training for my current role as a Safety Engineer. The course has equipped me with the skills necessary to understand how complex products, services and systems can contribute to posing a risk to human life. It also provided me with the educational background required to become a leader in the field of safety critical systems engineering.

RAF Life/Station Life/AT/FD/Sports/Travel

What is the work life balance like in the RAF?

It can be tough during periods of Deployment and intense work deadlines. However, the balance is always resumed when I have enjoyed time off to play representive sport, attend Force Development trips and Adventure Training opportunities.

What accommodation/messing facilities do you/have you used?

I have lived in all levels of accommodation from Junior Ranks single service rooms, to the Sergeant and Warrant Officer Mess and now Officer Mess accommodation.

How helpful is the RAF Benefits Package (e.g. Medical, Dental, Disturbance/Relocation Allowances, Continuity of Education Allowance etc.) to you/your family?

Exceptionally helpful. I have only used one of my 3 Enhanced Learning Credits; this was towards my BA (Hons) Business and Enterprise. I am saving my others for my next academic endeavour. I have recently bought private accommodation for my current posting where I was able to claim back my legal expenses and my moving costs. Furthermore, I had a period of extended sick leave due to serious illness. The RAF looked after me from a health and financial perspective.

What sports or AT have you taken part in?

I have taken part in more Adventure Training and Sporting activities than you could think of. The highlights are:

  • Open Sea Kayaking in Canada
  • Canadian Canoeing and self-sufficient living in Canada
  • Sky Diving in America (twice) and Spain (twice)
  • Multiple trips to the Bavarian Alps (mountain biking, rock climbing, hill walking)
  • Multiple trips in the UK (hill walking, mountain biking, rock climbing)
  • I contributed to Defence Medical Research where I took part in a mountaineering Expedition to Everest Base Camp in Nepal.
  • Kitesurfing in Turkey (twice), Morocco, Cyprus, Sri Lanka, Portugal
  • I have represented the RAF at Inter-Services level Kitesurfing
  • I have represented the RAF horse riding (dressage discipline)
  • I have represented the RAF at multiple cross-country events
  • I organised the Initial Officer Training Intercollegiate games in the Netherlands.

What opportunities have you had to travel overseas with the RAF?

I have had multiple opportunity to travel overseas(as above)and have been to Cyprus and Afghanistan under Operational commitments.

Key Memories

What do you enjoy most about your job/the RAF?

I enjoy the challenges that I face everyday and the excitement of new opportunities. The RAF isn’t just an organisation to me, it is a family, it is part of my identity and being a part of the RAF genuinely inspires me to be the best version of myself.

What are some of the most memorable experiences from your time within the RAF?

All the above points. I have too many fond memories to mention. I have loved every part of each of my training experiences, working out of Branch within the Intelligence sector, becoming a professional Engineer, being a full time MSc student, being fortunate to be in a Command position, meeting friends for life and all of the sporting and AT endeavours.

How much do you keep in contact with friends / colleagues from previous postings?

This is easy-😊You make friends for life wherever you go and always know someone at the Station/Unit you visit. The Engineering Branch is close, there are yearly Seminars and Dinners to attend where it is always nice to catch up with old friends.

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