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Where to start

There are four main branches of the Armed Services and each has a graduate recruitment website that is the natural starting point.

Royal Navy (including the Royal Marines)

British Army

Royal Air Force

Each branch offers three distinct types of role, namely those focussed on operations, combat and peacekeeping, those in specialist or technical activities and a wide range of support roles.

In applying you will be expected to satisfy basic medical, age and nationality recruitment criteria. The application, assessment and selection process can be lengthy compared to graduate recruiting in the civilian world.

How to know if you are suited to this sector

Because of the wide and diverse nature of the roles and the work of each service there may be many reasons for being motivated to join. However what is in common will be an aspiration to leadership and taking responsibility, a strong affinity to decision making defined by identifying and meeting objectives, flexibility in responding to uncertainty, excellent communication skills and deep personal resilience.

It can be especially useful and interesting to connect to the branch of the armed services in which you are interested via their Facebook or LinkedIn pages.

How to get experience that will be credible

You don’t need to have had any prior experience but in general terms activities that demonstrate your suitability do carry some weight. In addition each service has its own university unit and in joining and participating in the activities of the unit your credibility is greatly enhanced.

Cambridge University Royal Naval Unit

Cambridge University Officers’ Training Corps

Cambridge University Air Squadron

Each will hold regular training events with additional occasional periods of activity and training outside term time and away from home.

(Its worth noting that whilst following a professional career outside the Armed Forces it is still possible to volunteer to be a Reserve, ready to support the “regulars” in times of crisis. You are trained and remunerated for undertaking such a role see Royal Naval Reserves, Royal Marines Reserve, The Army Reserve, and RAF Reserves)

Further Study or Certification Required

Graduates of any degree subject can apply and no further study qualification is required although all the services are keen to hear from applicants with a STEM background which can be particularly useful in some operational and specialist roles.

Tips for succeeding in the application process

In addition to being able to match the skills required in the role from previous experience it is useful to demonstrate an interest in current affairs and in particular defence issues from reading the broadsheet press. You should also be clear about your personal motivation for wanting to serve and how long you expect that to be for.

What Cambridge has to offer to those interested in the role

As well as the opportunity to join the University training units for each branch of the Armed Forces Cambridge offers a multitude of society and volunteering activities which help demonstrate and develop leadership and management responsibility. It also provides sporting activities at multiple levels of competency and competitiveness with which to establish and enhance physical fitness. Finally, the Armed Forces are active participants in many Cambridge Careers Service events and can be found on Handshake.