My NEST Experience + what its like to be new to the FAA

Nfingers

Trusted Contributor
Messages
147
Hello all, as promised I wanted to show everyone, or at least tell everyone the process of what has gone on with me.

A little background, I am a prior experience controller picked up on a prior experience bid. I was one of the "lucky" ones who got a great list, a few 12's a few 11's and the remainder 8 and below. I ranked and received F11 (Central Florida TRACON) level 11 TRACON only. For those wondering my experience is this: 6 years at an ANG base in central Pennsylvania. Up down certified, and watch sup both facilities.

I started at F11 late August 2018, spent about a month and a half doing ELMS, and waiting for another guy to come to start in the lab. Went through the lab, if you're familiar with central Florida, the lows are crazy busy pretty much all year round (they do slow down during the summer) and the highs get complex during the summer. We went through the labs all the way, no problems and hit the floor late November (?). Got flight data and the government shutdown occurred. Was stuck working flight data for about a month with no training started. Finally got into position sometime near mid-January (?). Anywho began my training in the lows and absolutely got my rear end kicked. Few months of training went by, and I felt everything was going fine. Still needed some work, but still had alot of time left.

I got orders for the military to attend a school that I didnt have an option to get out of. I didnt think it was too big of a deal as I figured I would have my first position by then, and would be in seasoning by then. (This was some time around March when I got notified for school) The school was scheduled from the end of May through June. This is when things started going south. No big deal on my training meeting, but the sup did assign me SET (Skill Enhancement Training) and played it off as "Everyone goes through this, nothing is really too wrong just have some skills we need to improve on, and best to do that in the lab". Red flag #1, if youre getting SET, its already past the "Youre doing fin" stage. Again, being new to the FAA, I had no idea, but was just listening to the sup. SET went well, went back to the floor, stuff was still happening. 10 days later they terminated my training and sent me to a TRB at 120/160 hours. By the time the TRB met, convened and gave an answer I had gone to Military school, came back and was told that my training would be continued and I would ONLY be allotted the hours that were remaining, no extension.

*******IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN THE WITHDRAWAL VS TERMINATION PROCESS READ HERE**************

Began my training, it went pretty well but moral of the story, I was going to run out of hours before I or my trainer felt comfortable putting me up for cert. Totally warranted totally fair. This is where I was faced with a decision, withdraw or drag out the training and let it terminate. TERMINATE TERMINATE TERMINATE if it is your first facility, and you have no positions...... Withdrawing is relevant and useful if you're at a higher level and have some scopes or positions under your belt. When going to the NEST the terminations have first dibs at facilities, then the withdrawals get their choices AFTER all the Terminations get their picks. Either way, truthfully letting them terminate you is better than withdrawing, still go through the same NEST panel, and with termination youre just higher on the list to pick.


**************NEST PROCESS BEGINS HERE*************************

So, I withdrew. I withdrew pretty quickly after the panel that met previous to mine (mid-august) this is important because the way the NEST determines facilities (priority i suppose) is by Terminations > By oldest, to newest - Withdrawals > Oldest, to newest. The beginning of October was when the NEST panel met for me. I heard from my NATCA rep about a week after the panel met that the FAA was going to retain me and not terminate me, which was pretty cool. November 1st I had the meeting with the ATM and my Natca rep, to find out the FAA was going to send me to FSS in Alaska, either Juneau or Kenai. Not exactly what I was expecting, but I assumed something was wrong. Prior military with experience and ratings+ a year of training + outside of probation, how was I getting offered FSS and not even a tower only somewhere? I started running this up the chain, reaching out to my RVP. For anyone going through the process you have 5 days from the day the ATM shows you the list to respond, moreso this list isnt a job offer or guarantee. They can still fill up on spots and youre left with nil. Running this through the RVP he asked the questions to the NEST guy they have and this was the response I received, by the time the panel got to me, they recommended a level 4 or 5 facilities. When running the PPT, there were no facilities that fit the description, leaving me to FSS.

Now not to get into detail or sob more, I dont really believe it was done right. From what I have read and heard the NEST % to projected or whatever that far right column is. When I ran the PPT from the NCEPT (The week prior to the NEST meeting) it showed me 55 facilities less than 100% projected. I was told they staffed up to 100% but possibly not because if that was the case then I should have been offered some sort of facility.

Morale of the story: If you're new to the FAA and it doesnt smell right, you're probably 5 steps behind and its glaringly wrong to everyone but you. Terminate over Withdraw. Always ask the questions, always do your research, and dont just trust peoples word.

If anyone has more specific questions about the process LMK. Hopefully Alaska has internet /s/
 

boots

Forum Sage
Messages
347
I work with several people that you know and they are all great controllers and I'm sure you would be as well. Sorry that happened to you. Just the FAA way to exile someone to FSS that is fully capable at a lower level facility.
 

Nfingers

Trusted Contributor
Messages
147
I work with several people that you know and they are all great controllers and I'm sure you would be as well. Sorry that happened to you. Just the FAA way to exile someone to FSS that is fully capable at a lower level facility.
Yeah. It's not a doubt I could do it where I am now, I would just need more time than the faa wants to give. Which is fair. But my learning process hopefully clears the air and helps others in the future. Plenty of other options out there.
 

boots

Forum Sage
Messages
347
Nope. But since I was prior experience they said I went in with "I have experience I can do this, and don't need tsew". But every other person who comes here gets it now. Seems wild
I think you have a case right there. That's ridiculous. I'd honestly look into that. I guess you also passed the labs so that might not hold up that much.
 

Nfingers

Trusted Contributor
Messages
147
I think you have a case right there. That's ridiculous. I'd honestly look into that.
They already have. They did when I went to the TRB the first time and that was the determination since I got in on prior experience I'm not allowed to go to TSEW
 

FightingIrish2012

Forum Sage
Messages
355
Not saying this was the determining factor thing that annoys the heck out of people are the guard/reserve controllers who have to leave “on orders”, or for their two weeks a year, especially during training. Nobody will ever say that to your face but these people count as controllers for staffing when they are especially part-time in many cases, and often need their schedule catered to. Plus if you above a level seven facility the attitude of most people is often “this guy makes 100K+, a year, why is he still fucking around with the military”?

You are right though when you say let them terminate training rather then withdraw. I actually can’t think of a scenario where a withdrawal would help if termination is imminent. It’s a mental thing for some people just like private sector people who resign the day before their termination notice but there is no tangible benefit to doing this and if you think telling people the rest of your career you quit your training rather then failed out of it will make you look any better you are kidding yourself.

But sorry you got screwed with the FSS thing, that is a fate equal to termination as there is no way back to ATC from FSS and it seems like you should have gotten another shot. Just goes to show you don’t trust the FAA and previous non FAA experience don’t mean dick to most people.
 
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Nfingers

Trusted Contributor
Messages
147
Not saying this was the determining factor thing that annoys the heck out of people are the guard/reserve controllers who have to leave “on orders”, or for their two weeks a year, especially during training. Nobody will ever say that to your face but these people count as controllers for staffing when they are especially part-time in many cases, and often need their schedule catered to. Plus if you above a level seven facility the attitude of most people is often “this guy makes 100K+, a year, why is he still fucking around with the military”?

You are right though when you say let them terminate training rather then withdraw. I actually can’t think of a scenario where a withdrawal would help if termination is imminent. It’s a mental thing for some people just like private sector people who resign the day before their termination notice but there is no tangible benefit to doing this and if you think telling people the rest of your career you quit your training rather then failed out of it will make you look any better you are kidding yourself.

But sorry you got screwed with the FSS thing, that is a fate equal to termination as there is no way back to ATC from FSS and it seems like you should have gotten another shot. Just goes to show you don’t trust the FAA and previous non FAA experience don’t mean dick to most people.
Everything is totally accurate here. The military stuff in hindsight was detrimental for sure, but I was unable to get out of it either way as I had signed up for it anticipating NOT being in the FAA by that point (you sign up for schools and stuff like you bid leave, the year prior except they dont really tell you when/where youre going til last minute). Hindsight is 20/20, I thought I would of for sure had the position down, and then a usable body for the scope, season and move on after training but clearly that wasn't what happened. Either way whatever happens, happens.
 

RavenYZF-R6

Forum Sage
Messages
609
Shitty situation, thanks for sharing to help other new hires. I really think th e FAA should start everyone at 7s and below to help alleviate this sort of thing. Maybe DOD would be possible for ya. Can also make a lot of $$ working in the Middle East.
 

HoneyBadgr

Member
FAA
Messages
75
Facility
POC Brackett Tower
Shitty situation, thanks for sharing to help other new hires. I really think th e FAA should start everyone at 7s and below to help alleviate this sort of thing. Maybe DOD would be possible for ya. Can also make a lot of $$ working in the Middle East.
That's exactly what I was gonna say. Getting smacked in the face with a level 11 right off the bat is a little much. That open N90 bid had to have been a complete disaster.
 

rconpw

Lurker
Messages
7
Not sure how old you are, but you can always reapply on the next bid, and hopefully have better luck next time. Knew a guy who quit the academy enroute, and then applied and got terminal in the next year or so...Thanks for sharing your post, it is certainly news to me and will hopefully help many people in the future.
 

Nfingers

Trusted Contributor
Messages
147
Not sure how old you are, but you can always reapply on the next bid, and hopefully have better luck next time. Thanks for sharing your post, it is certainly news to me and will hopefully help many people in the future.
I can always apply again. Just not sure what HR will say when they see my history in the faa. I had my 2152 when I was 22, only 27 now so I have plenty of time still.
 

rconpw

Lurker
Messages
7
I can always apply again. Just not sure what HR will say when they see my history in the faa. I had my 2152 when I was 22, only 27 now so I have plenty of time still.
I don't know much, but I don't think HR cares. If you fill a slot on their paper you should be good to get in. I edited my last post, basically a guy quit after 3 months in the enroute portion of the academy, applied on the next bid and got terminal. Worth a shot to keep applying while you are training at FSS.
 

DankVectorz

Legendary Member
FAA
Messages
758
Facility
N90 New York Tracon
They already have. They did when I went to the TRB the first time and that was the determination since I got in on prior experience I'm not allowed to go to TSEW
that’s wildly incorrect. Every singly prior experience hire at my facility was required to go to TSEW and now TETRA.
 

MJ

Administrator
Staff member
Messages
2,540
that’s wildly incorrect. Every singly prior experience hire at my facility was required to go to TSEW and now TETRA.
Apparently there were views from some management and union that if you were hired under previous experience, you met the requirements for training, regardless of what that experience was. IE someone who only worked tower gets sent to an up-down doesn't need RTF to begin radar. It's another one of those things were each facility/district/region is doing their own thing. I told a friend to request to go to RTF regardless of what he was being told. There was pushback from local and higher mgmt and union, but eventually he ended up being sent.

To add to Nfingers points, no one is looking out for you. The FAA isn't always invested in setting you up to succeed and it's hard to understand that or know what to look for when you're new.
 
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