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Alumni Interview: The Army
Editor Matt Moody interviewed Birmingham Alumni Second Lieutenant Michael Franklin of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers to find out more about what a career in the Army entails.
What course did you do and when did you graduate?
I studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Birmingham and graduated with a First Class Honours Degree as a Bachelor of Engineering in Summer 2014.
What extra-curricular activities did you do?
I’d played rugby from the age of 6 and fancied a change when I got to University and a friend recommended American Football. I played running back for the UoB Lions for all 3 years of my degree and thoroughly enjoyed being part of the team. In my second and third year I took up doing security work for the Guild. I was also a Bursar through the Defence Technical Undergraduate Scheme (similar to UOTC but specifically for potential technical officers and tri service). I received up to £5,500.00 each year which I’m sure you’ll appreciate went a long way, especially paying for rent so my student loan could be used for more enjoyable activities.
Explain a bit about what your job involves now.
At the moment I am in the second and final phase of my initial training. This has many components ranging from specific engineering management training to learning how to command variations of the army’s armoured fighting vehicles. After the final phase of my initial training I will start my first posting in Germany which for me means being a platoon commander at one of the Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers (REME) battalions. I’ll be directly responsible for roughly 30 men and women ranging from 16-17 year olds fresh out of training, to sergeants who will have served for over a decade.
“'The Army is unlike any other career because it's less of a job and more of a lifestyle...'
What's it like to work for the army and why do you think other graduates should consider it?
The army is unlike any other career because it’s not really a job, it’s a lifestyle. It takes a large amount of commitment and should not be taken on lightly. That being said, it’s an extremely rewarding career and offers job security unparalleled by the vast majority of other graduate jobs. You see steady career progression upon commissioning and there is a plethora of jobs, sports, travel opportunities and adventurous training to be taken part in, with most of it paid for. The opportunities are there and the best part about it is that you are given the responsibility to plan and organise it. The Army now offers lots of civilian transferable qualifications at high levels; in the REME I can become a chartered engineer after 8 years of service simply due to the nature of my job. This would take a lot longer in a commercial job and you would also be required to find a sponsor to pay for the qualification, whereas the army does
What's your favourite aspect of your job?
The people. You form a close bond with those you work and live with that I’ve not found in any other job I’ve had. I also really like the adventurous training opportunities, I’ve been lucky enough to go skiing in Chamonix and scuba diving in Cyprus in the last year alone.
What should current students be doing to improve their chances of success with the army?
Have a look at what Regiment or Corps pique your interest, I’m sure there’ll be one for you and take the responsibility into your own hands! Make sure you’re in good shape and can pass the basic fitness standards, get yourself involved in as many leader - ship opportunities as possible and get in touch with your local recruiting office to start the ball rolling.