After almost 11 years in blue (4 at USAFA, just short of 7 AD), I've applied for separation and thought I would share my reflections on my USAFA and Air Force experiences. USAFA was my "dream school" from age 4, and it was everything I wanted and more. Just a few thoughts for candidates, appointees, Cadets, and parents... Work Hard and Apply for Everything I like to tell people that I didn't have fun at USAFA, but that I did a lot of fun things. The stuff you see on AcademyAdmissions.com and in the curriculum guide? IT'S REAL! A quick rundown of my experiences... - Ops to Charleston AFB, SC (beautiful city and beaches) - Jump - Soaring - Ops to Spangdahlem AB, Germany (also made it to Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg) - Summer Research at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency - Semester exchange at West Point - Olmstead Foundation trip to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand - Deployed Ops to Kuwait (stopped through Qatar) - MWC Basketball Tournament in Las Vegas - Spring Break Language Immersion in Uruguay (stopped through Argentina) I graduated with a double major, went straight to grad school (where I met my wife), and got my first choice on both of my AD assignments. I wouldn't have gotten most of these experiences without asking questions, applying for every opportunity, and having the grades to back up my applications. Make an Effort to Build Relationships My biggest regret from USAFA is that I am not better friends with my squadron-mates. Part of that is my fault, and every squadron has cliques, but I've worked hard to not make the same mistakes with my fellow officers on AD. Choose Your AFSC Carefully I had great reasons for why I chose my AFSC, and it was my first choice coming out of USAFA. None of those reasons apply any more, and while I have had a positive experience in the Air Force, this is not something I can see myself doing for the rest of my career. But don't use any lack of satisfaction with your Air Force job as an excuse to slack off... put the same effort into your AD job as you do as a Cadet. I've been very successful in the Air Force, and feel like I'm going out on top and on my own terms. You Have Great Options in the Air Force and Civilian World Don't be afraid to look at your options- both in and outside the Air Force. Being dead set on getting out at 5 years is just as foolish as being sure that you're doing 20 years when you graduate. Your plans are going to change more times than you can count. Even more when you get married and have kids... Use each assignment as a chance to look at your marketability, personal goals and what you want to do with your life. So What's Next? You know that nervous feeling between getting your appointment and Inprocessing? It comes back. My goal was to make a transition into financial services, and I have been selected for a veterans internship program with one of the top banks in the world. I'm heading back to my (major city) hometown and I couldn't be more excited. I'm going to stay in the Air Force Reserve as an ALO and am looking forward to giving back to USAFA and sharing these experiences with the future of the Long Blue Line.