Transitions: cadet to volunteer
We talk to a former cadet who's recently become a volunteer
Transitions: cadet to volunteer
“I can relate to how cadets are feeling”
Submitted by CURRENT

Making the transition from cadet to volunteer can be a challenging time. Not only do new volunteers have to get to grips with the responsibilities that come with the role, but they often have to make a break from good friends who are still cadets.

You might be thinking about becoming a volunteer, one day soon or in the future, or you might have just made the move yourself, so this could sound quite familiar.

Kerenza Clements is a Civilian Instructor at Swindon Unit, who has recently made the move. She talked to us about the challenges of this transition period.

What was the biggest challenge of going from cadet to volunteer?

"The hardest part of making the change from cadet to volunteer was distancing myself from my friends. I have been in the cadets for a long time, and I have known some of my friends there for years, so trying to distance myself was a tough process. It was very difficult, as your friends still see you as a cadet, but it is achievable when you put your mind to it."

What did you enjoy most about being a cadet? Do you still get to do it now?

"I enjoyed the diversity, being able to do a range of things and learning different skills. This definitely still happens when you become a volunteer; in fact you learn a lot more things and you are able to teach others what you have learnt, which is really rewarding."

Is there anything you wish you had known before making the transition – do you feel like you had enough support?

"I had excellent support in the transition. Having a one-to-one meeting with my Commanding Officer about staying on as a volunteer was very helpful and eye-opening. I would definitely advise other units to do this. The volunteers at my unit have always been supportive and given me all the information that I need."

Are you still friends with any cadets outside of Sea Cadets?

"I have two friends that I also talk to outside of Sea Cadets, but they have become volunteers as well so that makes it easier. I can’t talk to my other friends, who are still cadets, the way I used to."

Did your cadet friends treat you differently once you'd become a volunteer?

"Some of the cadets have treated me differently as they can’t talk to me like they could when I was a cadet, but that has helped in the transferring process and has made it easier for me to distance myself."

Were you or are you aware of the legal responsibilities you have as a volunteer?

"I haven’t done my adult induction course yet, but I am aware of some of the legal responsibilities, from being a PO Cadet. Thinking about the legal side of being a volunteer is quite daunting when making the transition."

Would you recommend volunteering to any of your friends who aren’t in Sea Cadets?

"Yes I would, it’s a great opportunity to gain skills and experiences and it looks really good on your CV for prospective employers, and in personal statements for universities."

How do you think you can help others using your own background as a former cadet?

"I can relate to how the cadets are feeling, and hopefully be someone they feel comfortable talking to."

Are you a cadet who's going to become a volunteer soon? If you're feeling apprehensive about any aspect of the transition, what kinds of things are on your mind? Start a conversation with other cadets who feel the same way by leaving your thoughts in the comments below...