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How important is visiting units?

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I think I know the answer to this one but want to get more of an "official" answer on this. I'm 2/2 for interviews with units I've rushed, and about 1/4 for units I did not. Some units allow visiting while others don't. Since money can be tight, how much can it make or break a selection process: visiting vs. not visiting? And how many times should you visit a unit? Can you do it too many times to be annoying or is once not enough to be remembered? Basically, I'm willing to do anything to tip the scales in my favor to get hired at a fighter unit. 

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Unfortunately, I think the most "official" answer you'll get is: "It depends on the unit and on the applicant" Moreso, it probably also depends on fighters or heavies, as well. 

In my experience applying with heavy units, I didn't rush any units before getting invited for interviews. I would have certainly rushed if I'd been invited down to, but that's not how it played out. I got invited to two interviews (one ANG and one Reserves) and got offered slots at both. One unit was just a quick, in and out interview with about 15 minutes of talking to other pilots in the squadron room before going into the interview and leaving right after. There was no formal meet and greet, show ya around, or anything like that. The other was a meet and greet hang in the evening with a couple pilots, then interviews the next morning with informal convos with more pilots and a lunch after the interviews.   

That said, my situation sounds a little atypical. Other folks I've talked to while going through this process, at both heavy and fighter units, seemed like they rushed and there were many other hopefuls there all interacting with folks in the squadron. The interviews were a completely separate time. Some units have no interest in rushing and just want how you look on paper and your interview to be the guide.

So, it doesn't seem like there's a hard and fast rule. That said, making your interest known to as many people in the squadron, getting to know them and how they feel about life in, and letting them get to know you is likely a huge leg up. Them talking amongst themselves and saying, "Yeah, I talked to that guy. Seems like a good dude/made me laugh/had a good story about _______/etc." are huge points in probably getting invited to an interview or getting an offer. If all they're doing is looking at you on a piece of paper and how you answer questions and they know nothing else about you, then it's a tougher battle.

Not sure if that's any help and know it's not an "official" answer (not that I could give one as a recent pickup, anyway), but it's my take. Keep your head up, keep trying, ask for input if you didn't get the call about what you might be able to do better, and NETWORK as much as you can. Even if they don't do rushing, checking back in from time to time with pilots in the squadron via call/email/text, if you exchange contacts with some, can keep you in their view and continue to show interest.

Good luck!

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You won't get an interview with a fighter squadron without rushing. I haven't heard of a single person who did. Heavies, depends how desperate they are / how inhospitable the location is.

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27 minutes ago, Stoker said:

You won't get an interview with a fighter squadron without rushing. I haven't heard of a single person who did. Heavies, depends how desperate they are / how inhospitable the location is.

Heard of a dude that got picked up for fighters via telephone interview.  Given his location and the unit i’m hella curious to know if they ever “rushed.” they werent there during the “official” rush weekend.

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I don't think its an absolute, but in general you should visit a fighter squadron at least once unless they specifically say do not rush (which I find strange, but to each their own).  When there's a ton of applicants who are similar on paper, we will remember the personal interactions during a previous visit and that could get your name thrown in the interview pile vs. being lost amongst the other 69 just-like-you-on-paper applicants. I know money is not unlimited, so you may not be able to do this with every unit out there, but I think it's worth it for at least the top couple you really want.

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How early should one start reaching out and rushing units?

I’m 20 years old and I still have 3 years left on my degree. Should I atleast wait until I’ve taken the AFOQT and TBAS? Or is the sooner I break contact the better?
Thanks ahead of time.


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Inside a year of the board you expect to apply for...anything further out isn't likely to help you that much (but it can't hurt).  I'd say in a perfect world go visit 9-12 months out, then visit again 3 months out, then see them the third time at the interview weekend.  Completely technique and probably more than most can afford to do.  My opinion is anything beyond that is overkill.  Even one visit 3-6 months prior to the board can make a difference on getting selected for an interview or not.  Of course this is a general statement and not a guaranteed formula for success.

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We don't interview folks that don't visit.  I understand it's not free/easy to visit, funny thing is that there's nothing free or easy about becoming a fighter pilot.  As Brabus said, we have tons of visitors and highly qualified applicants for every board, someone that doesn't show their face isn't going to stand out enough to get an interview. 

 

Good luck!

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@EvilEagle (and others),

Is there such a thing as rushing to much?  Oregon is having a board in 5-6 months, and I plan on contacting the POC pretty soon to get some gouge, but figured I'd ask here anyway.  I want to get out there and get to know people but definitely don't want to be a burden/ass-kisser.  Would something like visiting now, in Jan, and a meet and greet be to much/to little?  What do you like to see over your way?

Thanks! 🍺

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I think it all depends on how it goes on the first visit.  If you are comfortable, things seem to be going well and you made some connections, the guys will probably say "I hope you keep coming back".  That's an open invitation.  Each squadron is different but visiting more than once is more likely to be a good thing than a bad thing. 

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As far as the actual visit..are applicants generally welcomed visitors? What does the day look like for someone visiting? Is it basically a tour and meeting a few people? I know drill weekend is generally pretty busy so i'm just wondering how I would fit in the day

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10 hours ago, EvilEagle said:

I think it all depends on how it goes on the first visit.  If you are comfortable, things seem to be going well and you made some connections, the guys will probably say "I hope you keep coming back".  That's an open invitation.  Each squadron is different but visiting more than once is more likely to be a good thing than a bad thing. 

Makes sense.  Guess I'll take it one step at a time and hope the first visit goes good.

Thanks for the info!

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21 hours ago, ayz33 said:

As far as the actual visit..are applicants generally welcomed visitors? What does the day look like for someone visiting? Is it basically a tour and meeting a few people? I know drill weekend is generally pretty busy so i'm just wondering how I would fit in the day

At least for us, mostly hanging around the squadron and talking to guys who have time.  You'll find most guys will introduce themselves and make conversation if they're not busy.  Don't be awkward and sit quietly in the corner - introduce yourself to dudes, but have SA on what's going on and don't insert yourself into a conversation/start talking to a dude who's obviously busy doing work.  If there's a lunch push, go on it. Maybe someone will have time to show you a jet, but I wouldn't ask for it.  Your goal is to meet people and get a feel for the unit, while we're trying to get a feel for who you are as a person and assess if you mesh with us definitely/maybe/not at all.  Be yourself and go with whatever direction each conversation goes.  You'll probably answer the same questions 10 times, mostly indirectly focused around "tell me about yourself" type questions.

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Why do you people actually respond to questions like this in a very specific, mentoring manor?  

Do you know this individual?  Do you want him/her in the CAF with you more than others you may be mentoring?  Why do you offer free advice to people potentially have no business getting close to a Guard/Reserve unit?  

It's a random person on the internet.  That's it.  I'll encourage them... sure.  But giving them advice to improve their chances?  Especially when there are super high-quality people out there that I'm trying to get on?  If you want to mentor people, then find someone you can personally support.  

I've seen very bad examples of this going wrong for Guard units.  And I've seen people do similar things trying for the U-2 Program.  Many of you here have valuable expertise.  Don't give it away to people you don't know.  

It's a competitive environment.  I'll mentor people that I PERSONALLY know... not some stranger on the internet.  

Feel free to call me whatever you will.  But give this some thought before you do... especially if it is YOUR unit some person rushes that you don't want, but that has the gouge.  

 

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7 minutes ago, HuggyU2 said:

Why do you people actually respond to questions like this in a very specific, mentoring manor?  

 

I guess I do because the answers I read on here were very valuable to me when I was applying to units. Passing on the favor seems fair. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a ton of contacts already in who can help them out.

Ironically, given the title of this thread, one thing I wouldn't have had a clue on is the importance of visiting the squadron while applying. That's not a necessarily obvious thing to those coming from a non military background.

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I appreciate your reply, but my opinion is that it is too valuable to be handing out insider information to people you haven't personally vetted.

Yes... I'll encourage people.  And it is certainly not your fault for asking. 

But for people "in the know" to hand out some pretty good tips to anonymous people simply because they asked... that is NOT what the current AF pilot cadre needs.  

I can think of a very solid instance a few years back when someone unknown to the online community got the inside track from forum posts.  This person had no business being in the military, nor in aviation.  

There is plenty of info out there at this point for people looking to interview.  If they can't seem to find it, they might have no business in this business.  It's just not that hard.  That should be part of the weeding process.  

I'm sure a lot of good people will never get the info.  But that's ok as long as it prevents a lot of chaff from getting a shot at the big times.  

 

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6 minutes ago, HuggyU2 said:

I appreciate your reply, but my opinion is that it is too valuable to be handing out insider information to people you haven't personally vetted.

Yes... I'll encourage people.  And it is certainly not your fault for asking. 

But for people "in the know" to hand out some pretty good tips to anonymous people simply because they asked... that is NOT what the current AF pilot cadre needs.  

I can think of a very solid instance a few years back when someone unknown to the online community got the inside track from forum posts.  This person had no business being in the military, nor in aviation.  

There is plenty of info out there at this point for people looking to interview.  If they can't seem to find it, they might have no business in this business.  It's just not that hard.  That should be part of the weeding process.  

I'm sure a lot of good people will never get the info.  But that's ok as long as it prevents a lot of chaff from getting a shot at the big times.  

 

Good ol' boy. So only legacies are allowed into the guard? 

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No.  Only those that really put the effort in and do their homework without having it handed to them after making a single post.

This is not an indictment on you whatsoever.  You might be a great candidate.

My issue is with the experienced people on this (and other) forums, and their over-willingness to walk unknown people right through the process.  

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17 hours ago, HuggyU2 said:

No.  Only those that really put the effort in and do their homework without having it handed to them after making a single post.

This is not an indictment on you whatsoever.  You might be a great candidate.

My issue is with the experienced people on this (and other) forums, and their over-willingness to walk unknown people right through the process.  

I understand that fortune favors the prepared. But on the other hand, are you not confident in the meet and greet, and the interview to weed out the weirdos? 

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36 minutes ago, Engineer2Pilot said:

 are you not confident in the meet and greet, and the interview to weed out the weirdos? 

Correct...however, "weirdos" are normally the problem.  It's other types that interview average or better, but that have no business being there.  

Interview processes vary... some are not that thorough.  

I wish you the best.  

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