From Monday through Friday, cadets have the opportunity to participate in Branch Week. Throughout the week, cadets from all class years, as well as U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School cadet candidates and ROTC cadets from other colleges, have the chance to speak with branch representatives to help them decide which of the 17 U.S. Army branches interests them for a future career.
Military Police Branch Representative, Capt. Jannelle Allong-Diakabana, said that the week is a great opportunity for both staff and cadets.
"Cadets can take the time to meet potential mentors in the branches of interest to them," she explained. "It's important that these cadets get candid and professional insight into the varying branches of the Army before making their selection."
Learning about each branch, Allong-Diakabana emphasizes, is key.
"It's essential for cadets to explore different branches so they are informed. In a few weeks, the seniors will make choices that will impact the next 5-8 years of their lives," she said. "The more educated they are on the various branches, the more informed decisions they can make."
Firsties find out which branch they are going into on Branch Night, Nov. 15. Prior to Branch Night, they rank their branch preferences in order from one-17.
Class of 2018 Cadet Robert Li is hoping to branch ordnance (lieutenant time) with a branch detail in infantry (once a captain).
"I'd rather do paperwork on the logistics side and having a combat infantryman's experience really helps out knowing what you need to do in order to help the platoon out in terms of logistical resources," he explained.
Li said that every year, he had a different first choice branch, but finally made up his mind this summer.
"After doing (Cadet Troop Leader Training) and actually talking to infantry guys, the lane walkers, over the summer, (it helped me make my decision)," he said. "It's not just Branch Week alone, it's the cumulative experience that's helped me finalize my decision."
Cadet Jacob Roberts, also a Firstie, hopes to branch field artillery.
"I make sure I stop by the (field artillery) tent for a little every year and talk to them," he said. "I liked the jobs that they do and the experiences they had, and I feel like I would do well in those kinds of positions, too."
Having attended Branch Week for the last four years, Roberts has some advice for the plebes.
"Don't get too dead set on one," he said. "Keep an open mind and find what you like, not what other people like, and just find the job that suits you and where you can be most effective."
Class of 2015 USMA graduate and military intelligence officer 1st Lt. Patrick Bastianelli from the 525th Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade, Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, offered advice as well.
"Don't worry too much about the branch that you're going to choose," he said. "No matter what route you take, you'll find your niche and you'll enjoy it, but obviously, take advantage of Branch Week and all the officers you have as instructors and use them as a source to connect with company grade officers."