I am Sergeant Jonathan ‘Griff’ Griffiths, I have been in the REME for 14 years, during which I have been an Armourer and Metalsmith, completing two basic courses and two class one courses. I am currently training to become an Artificer*
More assignment work
After being on the course for five months and settling into the daily routine, the course demands are beginning to move up a gear. The course has just completed level 3 maths and science exams, which for me personally is a major hurdle that is a milestone in the course. The obvious jump in workload is through being given a lot more assignment work to complete. I find the majority of it fairly straightforward, but have had assignments that have been confusing to understand the task requirements. To get them completed I have had to sit with the instructor that issued the assignment. Ensuring a good working relationship with your instructors is definitely advisable.
Life within the company is also quite demanding at times, alongside the increase in course related work, the regimental demands often complicate an already packed timetable. Such demand just have to be accepted and got on with. The issues with the requirements of work at a company level or for the sergeants mess is that it is issued with complete ignorance to what is occurring in the course timetable. This can result in, for some, going on an exercise in a quiet period of the course meaning they can focus and perform well. If you are unlucky enough to have to go on an exercise during a hectic time of the course this can result in having very little time to prepare and rehearse, resulting in a huge increase in stress and pressure that has a wide effect on your performance on all aspects of the course and personal goals during the working week, such as basic things like being able to get time to do PT, squeezing it in. Also not forgetting contact time with family and friends on top of all of this.
Share the workload
During high-pressure phases of the course there is little that can be done other than muddling through the best you can, although if something is going to be severely affected it is best to let instructors/company staff know. There are many opportunities for carrying out a sport during the course, funds are available to aid you to do this. This should be taken full advantage of if it is possible to do so. One thing to bear in mind is that it is wise not to take on too much, especially if you are the kind of person that will struggle academically. Whist it is easy to take things on and people will be more than willing to pass responsibility on to you, it is worthwhile considering if the workload would be overly excessive resulting in course work suffering and people being let down. A solution to this is to find a few guys interested in a sport and go into it together, so you can share the workload.
Five months down
Mess life within the unit is good. The forecast of events is always full and the majority of events are well organised. In fact the only negative with the mess is that most of the functions occur during the week which means staring at a white board for 7 hours the following day means you can’t take full advantage of taking part fully as traditionally expected, as trying to learn after having a few ports and pints of beer is painful.
PT is on a Monday which is good timing for the lesson as it breaks up Monday. It is a shame and a disadvantage only having one lesson in the week. I have tried to overcome this disadvantage by getting in the gym on a Tuesday and Thursday evening and going for a longer run on Wednesday sports afternoon. Of course when the pressure increases during the course and assignment hand-in dates approach, the only thing you can do is decrease the gym time, which is annoying. I always start the week planning to go, and try hard to get there, or it would be easy to stop going and fall into the trap of just doing a single PT lesson on a Monday, which is obviously not enough to maintain fitness. Five months down and I’m “good to go”.
*Artificers receive advanced training in their trade and are able to pick up a range of further qualifications such as the BTEC Higher Diploma, HNC, HND or BSc degree. Artificers are then able to progress even further up the ranks with successful completion of the intensive Artificer course leading to Staff Sergeant and the opportunity to then progress to Warrant Officer Class 1 (WO1). Being an artificer can also lead to an Officer’s commission and leadership training at RMA Sandhurst, after which it is possible to become a Chartered Engineer.
More at this link: www.army.mod.uk/reme/career/18066.aspx