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Researching career counseling options avoids confusion

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Isaura Walker
  • Andersen Career Assistant Advisor
People who are happy with their job tend to perform it best - that's not a secret. 

Supervisors at all levels are required to give career counseling to subordinates. Helping people find the right job at the right time provides a happier and healthier workforce, thus optimizing our warfighting effectiveness. You, as a supervisor, are the catalyst for that crucial change. 

An Air Force career can be rewarding beyond our expectations especially when supervisors outline all the numerous career opportunities available. Experience, good or bad, is often the best teacher. 

I currently serve in a special duty assignment as a career assistance advisor. I spent the majority of my Air Force career as a dental technician. The experiences I gained at each job, and from the transition between, taught me a few tips I believe other supervisors will find very useful. 

Tip 1. See it in Black and White 

Misconceptions about career programs are easy to come by. Policies and procedures change frequently to meet the changing needs of our air and space missions. You have got to read the Air Force Instructions. Give yourself a working knowledge of career options by browsing AFIs when a question occurs to you, or a subordinate expresses an interest in a program. For information on retraining, read on AFI 36-2626. To learn more about special duty assignments, check out the Special Category Guide at http://www.afpc.randolph.af.mil/procedures/specat.htm. The PALACE CHASE and PALACE FRONT Air National Guard and Reserve transfer programs are covered by AFI 36-3205. And don't forget to contact the military personnel flight to review official messages which cover policy changes or exceptions to AFIs. 

Tip 2. Ask an Expert 

The people who handle the paperwork from start to finish, such as the MPF, recruiters, the education center, and special duty points of contact can often explain the intricate details of the programs they support. You can also find people who are serving, or have served, in the duties you are interested in and ask them questions about the assignment. Here at Team Andersen, we have former military training instructors, enlisted aides, recruiters, first sergeants and officers who were previously enlisted. They can share their personal experiences to give you a unique perspective of their job. While not an expert, my duties as the Team Andersen Career Advisor require me to have advanced knowledge on retraining, special duty assignments, commissioning, Guard and Reserve opportunities, and transfers to the Army via the Blue to Green program. You can e-mail me or call me at 366-STAY for an appointment. Be wary of second- and third-hand information from people who do not have legitimate experience or training in these programs. There's no need to fall into that trap when bona fide experts reside in our midst. 

Tip 3. Take Advantage of Internet Resources 

The Internet is often the first resource we use for research, but the massive amount of information out there can be daunting. Start with official web sites to make sure you are getting the most accurate and up-to-date information. The career assistance advisor web page at https://intranet/career has consolidated links to the official retraining, commissioning, Guard, Reserve, Blue to Green and special duty assignment web sites. Scrutinize unofficial web sites closely, as these sites are not monitored for inaccurate or outdated information. 

Failure to effectively deliver career counseling can be devastating to a person. They might be deprived of a golden opportunity to learn something new or serve in a dream duty location. I encourage you to take advantage of my experience and get educated by reading the AFIs, talking to an expert, and doing research on the Web. Putting the right person in the right job at the right time has limitless returns in morale and effectiveness. Proper career counseling is an invaluable investment in the Airman, and in our great Air Force.

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