"Strategy is the art of making use of time and space. I am less concerned about the later than the former. Space we can recover, lost time never." - Napoleon Bonaparte
First things first - do you have any idea what you want to be when you grow up? And by grow up I mean after you depart the military, whether it is after 3 or 30 years, I highly encourage you to think about it at least 2 years prior to getting out.
Why? Well, now that you've successfully accomplished being a part of the 1% of all Americans that serve, if you do not know what you want to be, do, or more importantly, what you are good at, the transition is truly going to be a beast for you.
In no particular order, the below are some misconceptions regarding the level of preparation it takes for the return to 1stCivDiv. If you can relate to any or all of these check back for subsequent posts that will address and/or debunk each of these (purely from my perspective, of course).
- A week or two of transition classes will provide all of the information that you need - you made it through multiple tours of "take-your-pick-stan", how hard could it be?
- You have a "hook-up" at federal agency so-and-so.
- YOUR veterans preference will put you ahead of the other million plus veterans that are estimated to be getting out of the service in the next 3-5 years.
- You are going to pay someone to write your resume so you'll get interviews quickly because it was written by a professional.
- You are just that good and your rank/title/awesomeness will immediately transfer over into a GS-higher-than-high or CEO-of-everything.
- You are going to just slip right into a civilian position at your current duty station because your CO likes you.
- You don't care about a second career, you just want a job so any job will do.
- You have a masters degree/MBA/doctoral candidate.
- If all else fails, you'll 'accept' a contracting job.
- Americans love veterans and there are so many hiring initiatives that you will definitely get a great job.
- You've led troops practically since you were a boot so managing civilians will be an easy day.
- You are 1/8th whatever the flavor of the month may be so you'll be kicked to the top of the heap.
- Your MOS will translate to the applicable federal specialties.
- You don't need time to relax/decompress because you need to have a job before you complete terminal leave if for no other reason than you want that double tap payday, e.g. retirement paycheck & civilian paycheck.
- Your VA claim will be processed prior to your retirement/EAS so you can start looking in a few months.
- You've never been a sick-bay commando and you are not going to start now so you are not going to get your applicable health issue taken care of until you start out-processing...there's just too much to do and the unit needs you. You are the lynchpin that keeps everything moving, right?
I could keep going but I'll stop at 16 so that the debunking can begin. No need to be apprehensive or scared - just get busy getting prepared.
And you just knew that you were finished with your professional development, didn't you?