Where can you find pleasure
Search the world for treasure
Learn science, technology
Where can you begin
To make your dreams all come true
On the land or on the sea

For those of you whom may not be aware, I have recently graduated from the University of Calgary, with a Mechanical Engineering degree. And by recently, I mean way back at the end of April. Ever since then, I have been desperately attempting to obtain gainful employment. You know, something that requires me to actually have my degree, instead of oh say, high school and a pair of steel-toed boots. The boots of course, being the only one they check.

Where can you learn to fly
Play in sports or skindive
Study oceanography
Sign up for the big band
Or sit in the grand stand
When your team and others meet

So, I've been applying to a whole load of places. And hearing back from very few of them. A total of two interviews in the last year or so that I've been trying to find a job for after I graduated. And one of those interviews was with the Canadian Armed Forces.

So, that was back in August. Wasn't quite sure if or when I'd be hearing back from them. So it was a rather pleasant surprise when three weeks ago, I got a call from the recruiting center, saying that I had been selected to attend the Naval Officer Assessment Board, last week in Victoria. Thankfully, getting the week off work was a small matter of making a 1 minute phone call to my boss.

And so, last Saturday I packed my things, and headed onto my flight for lovely Victoria, British Columbia, and the Naval Base there. When I left Calgary, it was snowing quite heavily. When I arrived in Victoria an hour and a half later, the sun was shining and it was about 12 degrees Celsius out. Good start to the week.

They kept us busy. Monday was a whole load of PowerPoint presentations. About general life in the Navy, the purpose of Canada's Naval Fleet, the specific occupations that the people here were applying for, what training we'd be doing, and a whole load more. Unfortunately, it turns out that we do a bit more than sail from port to port to attend cocktail parties. That's just a side benefit.

Tuesday was a day sail, on the HMCS Regina, one of the Halifax Class Frigates. That thing is awesome. When it was turning at full speed, it was listing at about 30 degrees. It could accelerate to full speed in about a minute, and could stop in about two shiplengths, which I'm told is the naval equivalent of stopping on a dime. Explored the living quarters, the engine room, the control rooms, the bridge, the officer's mess.

After that, was a dinner / cocktail party at the Officer's Club back at the base. Man, let me tell you, that place is really nice. It's placed on top of the hill, overlooking the entrance to the harbour, with massive windows looking out over the Strait of Juan de Fuca, at the Olympic Mountains in Washington. Upstairs has what is quite honestly the nicest bar that I have ever seen in my life. Most of that time was spent just listening to some of the stories that the guys and gals had accumulated over the years.

In the Navy
Yes, you can sail the seven seas
In the Navy
Yes, you can put your mind at ease

Wednesday they started the official evaluation portion of the week, although of course the people they had escorting us the entire time had been watching our behaviour rather closely. But at about 8:00 Wednesday morning they started the interviews. I myself was 3rd on the list. Mind you, they weren't long by any stretch of the imagination. After all, they did have 47 of these to burn through. However, I know I'm not the only one who got a fair bit nervous facing a panel of people with a total of over 100 years of experience in the armed forces.

Thursday morning was the aptitude test. It certainly wasn't hard, per say. It was, however, timed such that there was little to no chance that you could actually complete all the questions in the time allotted. It was a matter of quickly figuring out which types of questions were the fast ones, doing those, and then trying to work on the others if you have a chance. Apparently I did ok on that.

Between all this, more to kill time while other groups were doing interviews and the tests than anything else, we had more tours. They've got some cool stuff there.

Friday was not so much fun. For one thing, I was rather hung over. We had, naturally, been going out and having fun with the rest of the group, the entire time. As a result of Thursday night in particular, I was not able to keep food or water inside my stomach for any particular amount of time. Which was not fun on the bus for the tour of Victoria, lemme tell you.

And of course, right after lunch, we were all finding out the results of the week. One by one, they called us in, and told us if we were accepted or not. Of the 20 people applying for engineering positions, they had said they were looking to hire 9 of us. I think I was the 10th last person to find out, so I had a fair while to sit there and stew. There are very few points in my life when I had been as anxious as that.

So, needless to say, I was rather relieved when Commander Deslauriers, the head of the board, asked me "So, after all you've seen this week, do you still want to be in the Navy?", as I sat down. It's not like I'm going to say yes, and then he's going to say that sucks, because we've decided that you can't be. Apparently, at the end of it all, my interview was rather weak, and I need to work more on projecting self confidence, but the rest of it went fine, so I was offered a position as a Marine Systems Engineer.

Turns out that of the 20 engineers, they picked about 14 of them. Not sure exactly how many of the other guys they picked. So, now, I basically gotta get into shape for basic officer training, which commences January 17, in St. Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. I imagine that'll be rather chilly.

In the Navy
Come on now people make a stand
In the Navy
Can't you see we need a hand
In the Navy
Come on protect the motherland
In the Navy
Come on and join your fellow man