On September 11, 2001, the nation watched in horror the terrorist attacks which killed over three thousand people. This inspired thousands to join the military in a swell of national pride. I was one of those who joined in that period. I was wanting to become an Army officer. I had two congressional nominations to go to West Point, but was still in high school. I wanted military prior to going to the academy so I could be ahead.
I joined the Oklahoma National Guard as a junior in high school, and went to basic training in the summer before my senior year. After completing my training, I came to the conclusion I no longer wanted to be a career soldier, but with six years remaining before I could be discharged, I opted to ride out the term of my contract and go to college instead.
I went to the University of Oklahoma, and began working on a degree in business. Because I hadn’t prepared properly to go to a public university, I had no scholarships or other financial aid. Luckliy, the national guard paid all of my tuition, helped me get Federal Tuition Assistance to pay my fees, and then gave me the GI Bill to help pay for everything else. I was going to a four year university for free, all because of my service.
I had to take a break from college for 2006 and 2007 because I was deployed with my unit to Afghanistan. Although the work was dangerous, I gain experience and wisdom, and I can never forget what I gained while I was there. The year away from everything helped me to see life from another angle, and molded me into the person I am today.
I returned to school after deployment, and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Business Administration in Management in the winter of 2008. Little did I know that my career in the military was going to play more into getting my new career than my degree did. I graduated at the time the recession hit full swing, and many business closed their door to hiring. Just having a four year degree did not make you competitive enough. However, I had the advantage of being a veteran, and employers were looking for that kind of experience in addition to a degree. I was able to get a job in the height of the recession, working for the Social Security Administration, where I am today.
It started out as part-time duty and went to full-time in a foreign country, but it paid for my degree in full, and gave me the life lessons I needed to jump start a great career. My experience is what employers were looking for, and I had more than every other graduate because of my military experience. Had I never joined I would not be as lucky as I am now.
If you are looking for a job that is recession proof, has outstanding benefits, and gives experience that will make you more competitive in a tough job market, consider joining a military branch.