My application was solid, it was liked, and it was good... but it wasn't good enough for the Big Leagues, unfortunately, and I wasn't accepted into the mercenary corporation in the end. That all said, however, the recruiter didn't turn me away at the news he broke to me. Instead, I was directed to the sister alliance of the mercenary alliance (for those of you who are confused on what an alliance and corporations are, its like guilds in other games. Corporations, or corps, are like guilds/clans while alliances are groupings of allied corporations).
A quick application later and I was immediately accepted into the Mercenary Training Academy, given a list of complex tasks to complete right out of the gate, and a number of websites to join ranging from the groups' forums to their fleet doctrines. It took me maybe an hour or two to get it all sorted out, but in the end I got it all settled. After the information overload and a quick download of Mumble I was able to meet my new corpmates for the first time via voice chat. I was expecting hard bitten mercenaries and long time veterans of EVE; people who fought and bled and murdered for profit within a digital galaxy for money measured in wrecked spaceships and frozen corpses.
What I met was a friendly Australian salesman, a cheerful New Yorker with a speech impediment, and a helpful Scotsman working for a company somewhere in Japan while still retaining the stereotypical passive dislike of the standard Englishman (I have the feeling its like a national pastime for you guys at this point).
They, and many others, explained how the corp, and its training, worked. Unlike my last corp which taught on the fly and by the seat of their pants in skirmishes and all-out brawls, these guys took a slightly more formal approach. Experienced members with various specializations host 'classes' over voice chat and explain things like ship fitting, tactics, skill planning, and even economics. Other classes are done on the actual server or even on the test servers available to teach the practical aspect of things such as bombing, formations, fleet coordination, and more. Each class completed is marked for each person who attended the entire course by the trainer. The skills are then later tested in roams, missions, and contracts negotiated by the alliance. If the pilots/players do well and seem to have the grasp of the skills taught, they're nudged on up the chain and into roles specific for their training whether its as a scout, a fleet commander, logistics, E-War, etc.
Its a bit like a college or university coursework, but its all on your own time. They don't force anyone to attend classes or bar folks from fighting if they avoid training sessions, though it does limit your ability to participate in more specialized roles. Essentially, you learn as you feel comfortable and get practical application when you feel accustomed to the skills learned. The idea is retention and continuous enjoyment of the game rather than, as I had thought previously, constantly murderating everything that they're paid to murderate (though that is ultimately the goal of mercenaries). In addition to classes on how to kill people more efficiently, they do offer the occasion course on supply lines and basic industry for those interested in working behind the scenes, though as expected with a merc corporation that wing is rather small and even the most basic industrialist is an experienced combat pilot.
It's a new view on things and, so far... I'm liking it.
Now, I've been debating on what, exactly, to do with my two alts stranded way out in nullsec and today I did a bit about one of them. My primary industrialist character was stuck in null-space and has been since more or less December of 2015 (some may remember my computer frying around that time). I logged in and realized that there was no way I was going to get most of my gear out at all, but ultimately I was fine with that. With a turn towards PvP rather than pure industry, and knowing how much time has to go into industry to get significant returns, I decided that the majority of the equipment I owned in the region was replaceable and, as it was inaccessible to me for the most part, worthless to stockpile. So, I cleared out the inventory of one of the stations. I sold almost everything I could feasibly sell and when I ran out of sell orders to use, I tossed out anything of little or no value and kept only the things I could feasibly sell before death-cloning (slang for blowing my pod/character up and insta-teleporting to high security space).
I made a small fortune on all the things I sold and there's still at least two more stations full of things down there. With luck, I can sell the rest over the next few weeks. For now, though, its off to more classes and some basic money-making antics like ratting, though it sounds like I might be able to get involved in some basic mercenary work. We'll see what happens.