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23 Year old English graduate looking for a way in!

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  • 23 Year old English graduate looking for a way in!

    Hi guys,

    First time poster, long time browser.

    I have a few questions regarding cadetship; RFA engineering in particular.

    I'm a 23 year old English graduate. My only numerate certification comes in the form of GCSE Math, dual science and Statistics, all grade B. I have always been a high achiever, I sat my GCSE exams at an accelerated rate (too young an age in my opinion to form adequate, unbiased by family and teachers, A level choices). I was kind of shimmy-ed into pursuing a career in teaching, coming from a family of teachers, but, this really isn't for me. I have worked in schools at secondary level and, as much as I like the students, the personalities and politics involved really put me off.

    I'm looking for a skill set that can be developed and put to good use in a practical manner, and this offers that possibility (alongside the chance to see the world and having that sense of being a part of something bigger than yourself, a community). I have seen several threads stating that age is no barrier and that is fantastic, but, I would like to know what it is they would be looking for in a candidate? I meet the eligibility criteria, but will my math qualifications be strong enough? I am very confident in my mathematical ability, and my ability to learn at speed, but I do not have an A level in a numerate subject. My partner is in fact a math teacher (and I love beating her to the punch!)

    My age and previous qualification should hopefully demonstrate that I am a committed individual who is competent in performing academically. I just want to know whether I am wasting my time? Are there any reading materials in particular that would be of benefit to me? Can you give me any advice upon how to prepare myself? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

    Hopefully this makes sense!
    All help welcomed with open arms!

  • #2
    hello there, there is absolutely no reason why you can't apply for a cadetship. In 2012, it occurred to me that I wanted this career more than anything, and as a result I went back to school to get some a levels under my belt (geography, science and english). My GCSE scores are mediocre, ranging from C's to B's and I have just managed to secure sponsorship with a ferry company. The people that I had interviews with were impressed with me going back to school as it showed complete determination and a certain level of devotion towards this career. Some companies are very much for academic achievements, and others take into account more personal qualities -such as whether you come across as committed towards the opportunity that they're offering. The only thing that they may question is you flip flopping from one career to the next, however from my experience, it pays to be honest, and admit your mistakes.

    Im not not saying go off and learn about nautical terminology, but I think in an interview and indeed on application, you have to sell yourself as having a real interest in this industry. It is much more beneficial to talk about you wanting this career for the fresh, daily challenges that are thrown up, and how you enjoy working in teams as well as independently if and when required - rather than mentioning about seeing the world. Your main reason for interest in a cadetship lacks passion, and that seems to be something that many companies look for. I honestly believe that I got offers from companies purely based on personal approval,rather than academic achievements.

    hope I have helped, sorry if it's in any way patronising - it isn't meant to be.
    Join the Warsash Maritime Academy September 2014 Facebook Group :


    • #3
      I already have A levels and a Ba(hons). Figuring out how to independently study an A level (funding, institution etc) is a mystery in itself! I am practicing A level math at present with my partner, it is helpful having a math teacher as a girlfriend, but I'm not sure of the standard expected by prospective companies. Can anyone provide advice on the best way to obtain an a level as a 23 year old?

      It would be highly beneficial to get some mechanical experience. Would it be worth speaking to some companies on the docks, the harbour master etc. would this be viable information to quote in interview? I love the idea of being an engineer, but have little mechanical experience outside of my garage, how might I get some more experience? Are companies likely to let me get stuck in and have a bit of a play?

      Thank you for your helpful advice cadetjlc! Very helpful. It's hard because I just want to get stuck in. I am confident in my ability to do anything, but it is convincing those prospective employers.


      • #4
        Well firstly you need to be 100% what you want! whether it's deck or engineering. I know maths is of more importance with engineering than deck. With a degree in English and a committed and positive attitude, I cannot see what you wouldn't get sponsorship. As I said before, if you can convince a company of how you want a career in the merchant navy (by using some of the reasons I've previously stated) then trust me, you won't have a problem. Just a few weeks ago, I too had concerns about getting sponsorship at all with my mediocre grades, yet I've had three offers, and am still to hear from a number of companies. However if you definitely want to improve of your mathematical qualifications to up your chances, there are plenty of exam centres up and down the country that allow you to sit GCSE and a level of examinations (however book quick! because the closing dates for this year are closing soon). And I would say that a majority of applicants for engineering have had very little experience before a cadetship
        Join the Warsash Maritime Academy September 2014 Facebook Group :


        • #5
          Ok, with at least a B in Maths at GCSE then that's enough for most companies for an HNC course, they may take you for a FD program given you have A levels but again may not if they really want a math one, it doesn't really matter for the end result. You don't say what your a-levels are in so while they are there if they aren't in the areas that people expect for an engineer then it wont really help, the same with the degree, its good as it shows that you can learn to a high level however having finished one degree and now being off in a totally different direction doesn't show that you have much staying power. how will you find a course that can last 5 years? (allowing for companies that tie you in to them for 2 years after cadetship)

          Most companies will tell you what qualifications you need to get a cadetship, make sure you tick those boxes otherwise its night school,
          At the interview why do you want to be an engineer? history of working on stuff in your garage if its more than topping up oil is a good start, but remember people who are 16 going for the same interview are judged by the same standards, so they wont have huge engineering experience either.

          you want to explain why the change from what you have a degree in and how you are going to stick it out.
          you can take it with a pinch of salt, but i prefer it with a nip of whisky


          • #6
            Cadetjlc: I've applied to a few companies now and am in the process of an RFA app. I was unsure at first, but the practical nature of engineering is something that I think I would I thoroughly enjoy. There are very few ways to access A levels now that I already have some. Especially where I am situated. I'm going to speak to my old head of 6th form and see if anything can be worked out. What is your age? (If you don't mind me asking) again, very helpful mate, cheers!

            ETwhat?: my A levels are; english, philosophy, ethics, history and biology. Nothing numerate. I feel that I wasn't guided particularly well at school. I'm quite up to date on educational issues, currently working in education, and have obviously dissected my educational experience. I did all of my gcse exams early and was encouraged to remain at 6th form. In terms of staying power, I have no problem! I love direction, knowing what I'm doing. I relish the opportunity to commit myself to something that allows me to know my role, know my skill and how to use it. Where as I have been particularly disillusioned by the constant moving of goalposts that occurs in teaching. Making my current skill more or less obsolete. Again, appreciate the reply! Very helpful mate.

            Out of interest cadetjlc; what made you chose deck over engineer or ETO?


            • #7
              Looking at teaching myself an A level in Mathematics now. Just waiting for my partner to get home so I can discuss.


              • #8
                Originally posted by Stillstayingjohnson View Post
                Are there any reading materials in particular that would be of benefit to me? Can you give me any advice upon how to prepare myself?
                Check out our book recommendations and blogs, there's plenty of good material and advice there


                Blog tWitterings Flickr Tumblr Faceache


                • #9
                  From where I'm sat it seems like you'd have a great chance at getting a cadetship if you applied! I was roughly around your age when I started and I had done various jobs beforehand. I have decent GCSEs and A-Levels but all my A-Levels are in the so-called 'soft-sciences' (sociology etc). However, this proved to be no barrier at my interview, and not being straight from school seemed to appeal to my company.

                  Companies tend to look for people who they can invest in, who can handle the academic side as well as life onboard and who will see out a whole cadetship. When you turn up at an interview they don't expect you to know everything about the industry and all the salty terms we use onboard, but they do expect you to have done you're research about them and the merchant navy as a whole (I got questions such as tell me about the different ship types in the merchant navy). I'd say apply as you will never know if you don't!


                  • #10
                    I don't think you need to worry about getting another A-Level in mathematics.
                    Companies accept 16 year old with just GCSE's - you have a proven academic track record so you will just need to demonstrate commitment and motivation for the change.
                    Apply once you feel you are ready and spend the intervening time researching the MN.
                    As Ever, age is not an issue - we have cadets on here from 16-late 30's.
                    Cruise ship Captain with experience on-board Passenger Vessels ranging from 5500-150000 GRT.


                    • #11
                      As HolyNougat has just said, I wouldn't worry about getting another qualification as I honestly don't think it's necessary. I honestly think that you should take the bull by the horns, apply to those companies still recruiting and see what comes up. I believe that you have a proven academic record, however I would seriously apply most of your focus on merchant navy and engineering research. As long as you can prove that you know a bit about the merchant navy, and that you have a meticulous and engineering mind, you should not have any problems whatsoever.I'm 22 btw
                      Join the Warsash Maritime Academy September 2014 Facebook Group :


                      • #12
                        An RFA interview is unlikely to involve much discussion of the wider Merchant Navy. For that one, concentrate more on topics specific to the RFA, RN and UK defence. I'm sure there's loads of AIB guidance out there, and on here.


                        • #13
                          Sorry to be a bit off topic.

                          Steve, I think I remember reading somewhere that the RFA were moving away from using AIB, any truth in that?
                          Go out, do stuff


                          • #14
                            I did my AIB in September and there was no suggestion of that there. If anything I think the RFA are changing to be more like the Navy, so I can't see them ditching the AIB model - after all the Navy essentially does it for them and it's a proven way of identifying the type of people they want to be officers.

                            I may be wrong of course, but the impression I got was that they very much value the AIB - and of course the subsequent 8 weeks training at Dartmouth.


                            • #15
                              Thanks, can't remember where I saw that they were thinking of ditching it.
                              Go out, do stuff