Civilian Career after Combat Arms

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by TexanFutureSoldier, Jan 3, 2014.

  1. TexanFutureSoldier

    TexanFutureSoldier Member

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    My Dad (very anti-me-joining-the-Army) and I have been getting into some really heated arguments about my contracting.

    Here's what my Dad's position is. My major (Electrical Engineering) will be useless if I wait several years to begin actually using it. Additionally, since I'm planning on doing my darndest to get a Combat Arms branch of some sort when I commission, it's unlikely that I'll get any experience using my major while working with Army. So basically my Dad's saying that if I don't make a career out of the Army, I'm going to be up a creek when I get out.

    I don't buy into what he's saying at all, but with the budget cuts and the number of officers being forced out of service earlier than planned, it does worry me a little. I was wondering if any of y'all who have separated from the service/know someone separated could share how you managed the transition from Army to private sector, especially former Combat Arms people.

    Sorry for the wordy post, and thanks in advance for your replies.
     
  2. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    Wrong question. Better question- do you want to be an Electrical Engineer or do you want to be in the Army? If you really do want to be an EE as a profession then your Dad is right, because you will be behind your peers in your profession. But if you want to be a soldier then you need to man up and tell Pop that you are a grown man with a valid career choice- AND IT IS YOURS TO MAKE NOT HIS. That may or may not turn out to be a long term career, but that is true for every career these days- what you start may not wind up being what you do for a long term career.

    BTW- I managed to find a pretty good 2d career even though I had been out of college for 21 years when I started looking for a Civilian career.
     
  3. TexanFutureSoldier

    TexanFutureSoldier Member

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    I'm quite sure I'd rather be a soldier than an EE, and I let my Dad know in no uncertain terms.

    My concern is landing a civilian career at all (EE or otherwise) with my only job experience being military. Are you comfortable talking about how you made your transition?
     
  4. mbitr

    mbitr Member

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    One of my relatives was an infantry officer for 20 years. He retired and is now a GS-15, Chief of spaceships and Death Star lasers or something and has lots of technical degrees that require a large forehead and oversized brain to get. Learning doesn't end at the undergraduate level and every branch needs people with good analytical skills. Besides, you're probably going to use your Engineering degree just as much in the infantry as you would as an Engineer (never).

    If you stay in, there are various functional areas you could move into that seek out Engineers. If you get out, you have highly desirable managerial experience coupled with a STEM degree. You can get a Masters on the GI Bill if you feel you need a more advanced degree. I wouldn't worry too much about it.
     
  5. Strength and Honor

    Strength and Honor Member

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    Yeah, what's stopping you from getting a Masters in EE after you get out to make yourself more relevant to employers?

    Say you get your BSEE, do 8 years in the Army, and then get out and get a Masters in EE with an Aero emphasis. Since you have a security clearance and those degrees plus military experience, I'd bet you'd be pretty marketable to companies like Boeing, Lockheed, and other defense contractors.
     
  6. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    I've never been in the military. I was a software engineer for 38 years after college. It was a fast moving field. Techniques changed, programming styles changed, programming languages changed, the machines you wrote programs for changed.... but the fundamentals of the discipline never changed. You used the same basic techniques you used in college in the same basic ways to solve problems. I expect that while you're in the service the fundamentals of electricity will also remain constant.
     
  7. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    I am NOT a "EE" at all...didn't like "EE" classes at USAFA, I became a Mechanical Engineer.

    And then promptly became a pilot upon graduation.

    15 years after I graduated, and after flying all those years....I was hired by Motorola as a Staff Electrical Engineer.

    Why?

    They said "You have an engineering degree from one of our service academies; they're top notch, you have the military experience of decision making, quick thinking, innovation, "out of the box" methodology...we can teach you the EE stuff you need to know, we want your OTHER skills!"

    Choose that which you LOVE...but be good at ALL you do!

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  8. TexanFutureSoldier

    TexanFutureSoldier Member

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    Thank you guys for your replies, makes me feel a lot better.
    And mbitr, I'd love to know how your relative snagged the "Chief of spaceships and Death Star lasers" post :wink:
     
  9. USMC_Ordie

    USMC_Ordie Member

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    +1 flieger83!

    USMC VETERAN
    DS Nominated to USAFA & USNA (and 3q'd)
    Accepted to UT Austin & Texas A&M - Aerospace Engineering Major
     
  10. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    We're overstating how easy it is for service members to get out and find a job. Yes, defense contractors are a pretty good chance, but vets have trouble translating their experience from military service to non-DOD contractor employers.

    Advance degrees help. If you want to be a soldier, great. If you want to be a civilian engineer one day, this works too.

    There are jobs out there, just know how to approach this process.

    There's a great article I can't find now, but I'll look for it, and if I can find it, I'll post it.
     
  11. cb7893

    cb7893 Member

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    Over the holiday, I asked DS, AROTC MS III ChemE, what he envisioned post commissioning. I am completely inexperienced in matters of warfare or engineering.

    His background is as follows: He loves chemistry, but found out too late that engineering as a college major, or maybe even as a career, is much more tedious than he expected. Fortunately, he has his mom's brain and can handle the work. He has already enquired about spending an extra semester or two in order to complete a double major with Chem or CS.

    He loves ROTC. He loves the fitness aspect. He loves setting up ambushes on the weekends. He really appreciates the leadership/managerial training, because it may be the one thing he believes he could do better. He has to work with all kinds of people with all kinds of personal goals, agendas, skill sets, religious views, etc. The challenge of pulling everyone together is exciting to him. Hopefully, he will take to heart what Ralph Waldo Emerson supposedly said, "I have never met a man who wasn't my better at something.

    So what is his latest plan and rationale? He wants Active Duty. He wants nothing to do with the Chemical Corps. He is planning to request Engineering Officer. We wants a Combat Arms Branch. He believes that he needs a Combat Arms branch in case he decides to make a long term career in the Army. He also likes the job description offering the greatest variety of tasks, which includes blowing things up. (I have no way of knowing how accurate this it.) If he does go five and dive, he believes the branch would give him the broadest leadership/managerial experience.

    Tex, this is nothing more than a Dad's take on the thoughts of his son, another Cadet, who still has much to learn about the Army and about life. Your head seems screwed on straight so take your time and don't think too far ahead. As you concentrate on the here and now, you will find the answers to questions which you don't need to worry about today.

    All the best.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2014
  12. billyb

    billyb Member

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    I think people are too worried about junior officers getting let go due to a RIF. Do a good job and it won't be a problem at all. I was a junior officer when they were paying junior officers to get out (in the mid 90s) and were quick to cut people. If you worked hard it wasn't a problem doing well and getting promoted. That won't change.

    IMO, if you prepare when you are leaving the military and are pretty open to location to live in then it really isn't all that hard to find a good job.
     
  13. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Ummm.... numbers don't sync with that.
     

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