How Military Service Can Prepare You for a Successful Career

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Military ServiceThe U.S. military can teach you a lot more than how to throw a salute, march in time, and shoot straight. It covers a range of jobs almost as diverse as those found in the civilian workplace.

The military can be a lifetime career, but most recruits serve only a few years in uniform. Once they are trained, they leave active duty to pursue a civilian career. Have you thought about being one of those people?

Designed to impart skills

The military teaches more than just the technical skills that are necessary to get the job done. People who have served in a military branch often mention several other skills and work-related attitudes they learn that serve them well throughout their career:

  • Teamwork: You learn how to work for the good of the team, how to divide tasks, and how to draw on the diverse talents of each team member.

  • Responsibility: Every work assignment is viewed as a mission.

  • Initiative: The specifics of military orders go only so far; beyond that, you need to decide how best to accomplish the mission.

  • Stress management: You learn how to keep stress from interfering with your work and your leisure.

  • Diversity: Military experience exposes you to people from backgrounds very different from yours. Military women often work in nontraditional roles.

  • Global awareness: The military has bases all over the world.

  • Security clearance: Veterans with this clearance save employers time and expense.

  • Physical fitness: You'll learn habits of healthy living that you can use for the rest of your life.

  • Service to country: This is something that many employers appreciate.

  • A formal credential. The G.I. Bill can pay for your education or training after you leave the service. Better yet, you can get tuition assistance to take college courses while you're still in uniform. Finally, your experience in the military may be accepted as equivalent to college coursework.

Structured for success

The military wants you to succeed. Although drill sergeants in boot camp are famous for being tough taskmasters, they are not trying to make their raw recruits give up. And once you get past the first few weeks of toughening up, the tone changes considerably.

You may know people who struggled to keep up with classmates in college. (Maybe this has happened to you.) You may have heard of highly competitive careers that permit success to very few people. Most military jobs are much more welcoming. It's true that the military has some basic entry requirements, but most people qualify. And it's also true that there is competition for some jobs in the military, such as Special Forces and airplane pilots. But in most military training programs you get a lot of encouragement and support.

In fact, the military runs the nation's biggest literacy-training program. They are committed to helping even the lowest-skilled recruits gain the learning skills they'll need to succeed.

Although the military does a lot of training, its core business is defense, and that sometimes can require combat. Even training exercises can involve big, fast, and dangerous equipment. The risks to life and limb are real. Don't let anyone tell you that military life is no more dangerous than life in an American city. On the other hand, these risks are part of the package called "serving your country." There aren't many civilian jobs that give you a chance for service as basic as this: putting your own safety on the line for the safety and freedom of your fellow citizens.

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