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Author Topic: How do I portray failing out of Nuke School positively in a resume?  (Read 11207 times)

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     First some background information: I enlisted in the Navy in February, 2004 and started nuke "A" school around April 2004.  I graduated "A" school just fine, and had no problems completing Power School in May 2005.  I chose to go to Ballston Spa for prototype (S8G), got all the way to the end and failed the final test (in week 24).  I was offered the test one last time and I failed it again (barely, I think my score was around 2.48).  I had absolutely no disciplinary issues whatsoever.  I never had issues with alcohol or being late, I simply could not grasp the material in that short of a time period.  My instructors helped me out throughout the entire process.  I have absolutely no issues with anyone.  Everyone was supportive of trying to get me qualled.  I have absolutely no grudges with anyone in the Nuke program, in fact, most of my buddies in the navy are nukes. 
     I went on to cross rate to STG (surface sonar technician).  I am about to get out of the navy after my first tour and am preparing my resume.  I just realized that in the Working Experience section half of my time in the navy is associated with the Nuke program and me failing out of Prototype.  How do I turn failing out of Prototype (a negative) into something positive without omitting it from my resume?  I want to put down my entire work experience in the navy but I don't want them to look at me failing out as a negative.  If I omitt it from my resume there will definitely be questions, and I don't want to leave any gaps in my work experience.  Any help with this issue would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you.

Offline rumrunner

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Are you trying to get a job in the nuclear industry?  If so, there aren't many ways to sugar-coat tubing prototype.  If your resume is aimed at other fields of work I'd simply say I was in the Navy from XXXX to XXXX and was a Surface Sonar Technician and attended blah blah blah schools.  I saw many resumes during my years in management at a nuclear power plant.  Frankly the ones from Navy nukes (and I was one) were often sleep-inducing (and also hilarious) as they stretched 6 year enlistments into nauseating detail with separate paragraphs for each school, ship, shore assignment.   I still laugh over one resume where the guy proudly noted he qualified as a primary valve operator within two weeks of first boarding his ship. 

What I am saying is prospective employers aren't interested in a blow-by-blow description of your enlistment.  List the schools you attended.  If you get an interview and they ask, be honest and say you moved on to another challenging rating and was successful.  Brevity on a resume is often a good thing. 

Offline Brett LaVigne

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Leaving this out of your resume is not being dishonest. Not telling them if they ask point blank, would be dishonest. The previous post from rumrunner was spot on IMO. Doesn't look to me like you have anything to be ashamed of here, just the fact that you made it till the end proves to me that you are smarter than the average bear. I'll bet you could leverage the experience of going through nuke school toward a nuclear job even though you failed the final exam. You still have a nice base knowledge of nuclear power that could be built upon. In this day and age, it seems like you could be a good candidate for several types of entry level nuke positions.

What I would do...for what it's worth. Be a bit vague about the nuke school, other than attending and then moving to a different field. You don't want to try and explain this on your resume, you want to explain this in person, while you are interviewing for the job. That way you can more easily make your case like you did in your post.
Thinking of yourself as a failure would be the same as someone calling themselves a failure after they pass out from exhaustion at mile number 24 of a marathon. The fact is, most people could not make it as far as you did, likely not even the guy/gal that is interviewing you.
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Offline deltarho

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If asked a question during the interview process about a time you had great difficulty completing a task and what you did to try to complete it--this would be a good topic.

First, discuss the entrance requirements, the A/school and NPS dedication and hard work you put in beyond the 8-hour school days it took to pass, the extra hours you put in trying to make it through prototype. Be honest, you are NOT expected to be perfect. Tell them that you just fell short and the nature of the work is that the standards cannot be compromised. So, you learned that when it comes to safety concerns, there is an attempt to correct, but never an attempt to compromise. You didn't do anything unsafe; however, each person must demonstrate a given level of knowledge and the program's safety record is partly founded on this aspect. Tell them I can appreciate and respect this knowing what I know what it takes to make a nuclear reactor run.

So, the turn around--POSITIVE--is that "I (you) was disheartened at first, to work so hard but fall short of my goal. So, I had to set new challenging, more realistic goals. I kept a positive attitude. I did not become a disciplinary problem or quit doing my best. Instead, I used the tools and strategies I learned from the nuclear power pipeline and applied them to my new goals. I believe I was more successful than I would have been had I not had the experience to learn from my failure. I learned that from failure comes an opportunity to try something different."

Just my two cents.  I find it difficult to believe you became an STG. A/school gave you a rating: MM, EM, or the cream of the crop. Why did you get switched instead of going conventional? If this was a "reward" for your efforts, this would be a selling point because most people stick with what they earned their crow for in A/school. Or, were you an E-3 at the time???? Need input....

The above has nothing to do with any real  or imagined person(s).  Moreover, any referenced biped(s) simulating real or imagined persons--with a pulse or not--is coincidental, as far as you know.

Offline Jeff J

I failed out in week 26 of prototype.  What I did was to put it on my resume as "naval nuclear training" for the 24 or 26 week time span.  At the interview I answered all my questions based on my experience in the conventional navy (in deck division).  After the interview, one of the interviewers gave me a plant tour and I asked him if he realized that I was in the conventional navy and not the nuclear navy.  It did not matter to them.

So, I would recommend putting on the resume as training received.  It may get you in the door for an interview.  Then, at the interview, just don't bring up the fact that you failed out.  Hit on all the other positives from for sonar tech experience you have instead.  If it comes up, turn it in to a positive as best you can (shows good work ethic, highly selective entry requirements, learned how to study, etc).

Offline rumrunner

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Good point by Jeff J...don't bring up the fact you failed.  Let them ask about it.  One thing I learned the hard way at prototype was to never volunteer more information than was being asked.  It was a good way to get thrown out of a check-out.  Same goes for job interviews and resumes. 


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In the education section you list completed education (passed) in the experience section you may list your time and what you did at prototype. 


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You will be asked what kind of a discharge you received and tell them.

They may ask what you did and be honest and tell them that you were a Surface Sonar Technician.  Don't even mention the Nuke School.

Offline Zog

If it makes you feel any better the owner of my company failed out of nuke school, started a company when he got out and is now a multi-millionare with a private jet, he prefers to hire ex-navy nukes :)

Offline Already Gone

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Absolutely do not dwell on this as a negative.  A resume is expected to list accomplishments and abilities - not to account for your time on Earth.  You did a fine job in the Navy, and you gained experience.  That is what you talk about.  Even though you didn't graduate NNPTU, ask yourself who would care about what you didn't, or couldn't, do?  A prospective employer is only concerned about what you can do - as demonstrated by what you did do.  Nobody is entitled to evaluate you as a person based on your resume, and nobody who thinks he is entitled is capable of making that assessment anyway.

Take the advice given above.  Your conscience should be clear on this, but it speaks of your character that you consider it as you do.

Thanks for your service.  Best of luck.
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Offline Smart People

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There are many of us, myself included, who did not finish Navy Nuke training and are still thriving in the civilian nuke world.

You were able to carry on and succeed. that is never a negative.
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