When I walked into Sgt .Coyles recruiting office back in 1999 for the 5th time, I finally decided on the career I wanted to begin in the Air Force. It was a tough decision, because there were so many jobs I would have liked to have done, though in the end after being told my first choice (Fire Fighter) had no openings, I decided to go with Security Forces (MP). The Security Forces career field was a great first step for me, to see if it was a job I would want to do for the rest of my life, even after the military. Though when I returned home and had the choice to attend school, that’s when I saw an opportunity to do something new, something I felt would fit me better as a career.
By September 2004 after returning home from serving in the Air Force, I began to put the GI BILL to great use, focused on achieving something I truly never thought of. When I joined the military in 1999 I didn’t even think about asking or looking for information about attending college, because for once in my younger years I was set on doing something, entering the military and following in my father’s footsteps.
It’s funny when people asked me what I wanted to do as a career, because honestly there are so many fields I would love to learn about and work in. After completing my Associates degree in General Studies, I decided I wanted to work towards a Bachelors degree that had something to do with psychology and sociology. I’m very outgoing and enjoy speaking to people, a little something I picked up from my mother who is a social butterfly and who has also inspired me watching her work as a teacher. I enjoyed many aspects of being a military police officer, but the greatest aspect besides shooting the heavy weapons and having authority at 18yrs old, was being able to take a situation and work towards finding a way to resolve it. I found that I enjoyed my job the most when I had to work with someone in trouble, but someone who was more than willing to get help and make a change for the better in life so they wouldn’t be back in the situation that got us MP’s involved in the first place.
So when I separated from the service and completed my Associates degree, I had taken up a bachelors degree in Human Relations, a degree that would allow me to go further into the psychology and sociology fields. Immediately I found what I was learning was more interesting, and this would put me in a better position to work with others who are looking for help. Learning about how brains works, what makes up our brains, how we think and behave as humans, caught my attention and I realized this is the field that fits my personality.
Four years later and I have completed my bachelors in Human Relations, a degree that brought me to a new whole new world. I learned so much about myself in the classes I had to take, completing psychological tests the professors would have us conduct, on top of learning so much about how we think as humans and why we make the choices we make in life. The whole time I was attending classes I still was working for the government in the security field. Working in this field while attending school was what motivated me to work hard in class, because I knew this was my ticket out of the security career field.
Having accomplished an Associates and Bachelors degree was such a great feeling. The long hours of studying, writing papers and working hard on a thirty page thesis finally came to an end in December of 2008. Though what I didn’t know and wasn’t prepared for was an economic crisis that would cause hundreds of thousands of Americans to find themselves without a job. After graduating I thought I was set, I had my military experience, my bachelors degree and thought for sure I will be able to continue onward working in the new career field I had chosen to go to school for. Though I soon realized this would not be the case, and finding a job now would be harder than ever.
After eight months of being out of school and having exhausted all of my GI BILL, I heard about the new Post 9/11 GI BILL. Hearing how much it could help veterans who have served after 9/11 I began to look into it and once the Veterans Affairs spoke about a time frame to apply I knew I had to act. I didn’t waste time and I realized once again my country is looking to help me and other veterans out in a huge way and I wasn’t about to pass up this incredible opportunity. I knew this was my opportunity to head back to school, only this time to begin my Master’s degree in Counseling and continue on the path to a new career.
Today I’m preparing myself to once again be back in the classroom, though I have mixed thoughts, I am looking forward to being back in a great environment where I will be along side others who are also looking to specialize in the new career field I have chosen. Though I would have liked to have been working in my new career field by now, I know it’ll take a bit more time to find that job as now so many Americans are also looking to find a job as well. Completing all the paper work for the new Post 9/11 GI BILL and now just waiting to begin receiving payments, I know this will be another great decision in my life and when the economy starts coming around for the better, jobs will open up and I will be in a better position than before.
One thing that will be different than the other degree programs I have taken, is that this time around I will have to do an internship, something I could have done with with my bachelors, but something I did not do. Not the best move on my part, but now I know if you plan on changing career fields, either an internship or volunteer work that pertains to the field your looking to change into will make your resume look more appealing to companies and you will even get college credit for this. Where as back then when a Bachelors was good enough, today a Bachelors with Experience is what many companies and agencies want to see on a resume.
So in about a week I will be back in the classroom, only this time working towards my Master’s degree. Take it from me, when looking to come out of the military and make a career change, school is the only option. Also be sure to look into an internship or volunteer work as soon as possible, It’ll help when building your new resume and help you stand out from others who might just have school, but no experience. In a time like this with a bad economy, it makes even more sense to get back in school and use the Post 9/11 GI BILL, it will only benefit you and give you more options if you should ever decide to switch career fields.
A special Thank You to all who have worked and are working so hard to give us this Post 9/11 GI BILL, I cannot Thank You enough for what you have given me.