By Bryan Tharpe, Fort Rucker Soldier for Life CenterMay 14, 2018
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- What occupation will you pursue after you separate from the Army? Think hard. Is that what you really want to do?
For some Soldiers, the transition back to civilian life is relatively easy. They have ideas, goals and back-up plans for civilian employment. They are undaunted, open-minded and flexible about how to get what they want.
But for other Soldiers, this transition is not so easy. Over the years, they may have set aside personal goals or lost sight of a few dreams. They felt too busy for hobbies or college classes and let military service envelop them. Consequently, it became more and more difficult for them to identify what it is that makes them truly happy.
When it is time for these Soldiers to separate from military service, even the smallest decisions can become difficult.
Much to their dismay, the job search process does not start with resume writing. It must necessarily start with a comprehensive, honest self-assessment. If Soldiers have been out of touch with their true values, interests and strengths, they run the risk of pursuing the wrong vocation or drifting toward the path of least resistance.
Don't let that happen to you. Regardless of how much time you have left to serve in the Army, it is never too early to begin and maintain your vocational self-assessment.
There are many ways to keep in touch with the feelings that will lead you to the right civilian vocation. Answering the following types of questions is a good start:
• Do you prefer working with people, data or things?
• Do you prefer working indoors, outdoors or a mix of both?
• Do you want to work for a large or small company?
• Do you want to interact with others a great deal, a little bit or not at all?
• Do you want to work independently or on a team?
• Are you more comfortable as a team leader or member?
• Which of your jobs in your past did you enjoy the most? Why?
• What do you like to do in your spare time? What are your hobbies?
• Do you want to create, design, install, troubleshoot, teach, travel, coordinate, answer questions, ask questions, inspect, write, build, analyze or synthesize?
• If you had to describe five or six of your happiest moments at work, would they have a common thread?
• What was it about those moments that gave you true satisfaction and what type of civilian environment might give you the same enjoyment?
There are thousands of similar questions to ask yourself in pursuit of self-knowledge. I recommend reading "What Color is Your Parachute," by Richard Bolles, or any other book that offers self-assessment, long before your separation date.
As you learn more about your own vocational values and preferences, you will be able to piece together a picture of what your next career will look like. As a result, when you finally do arrive at your transition point, deciding on objectives, writing resumes, interviewing and evaluating job offers will be considerably easier. And your new civilian career will be financially, professionally and personally rewarding.
Soldiers are strongly encouraged to attend a pre-separation briefing not later than one year prior to separation or two years prior to retirement. Call 255-2558 for more information.