Should I join ROTC?

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by Thomas12, Jul 30, 2016.

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  1. Thomas12

    Thomas12 New Member

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    I am trying to decide whether or not to do ROTC. I am 19 years old and will be entering my sophomore year of college at the University of Minnesota as a mechanical engineering major. When I was applying to colleges, I applied for and received an AFROTC scholarship. I was lucky and got a very generous scholarship offer from UMN and elected not to take the ROTC scholarship as I didn’t really need the financial assistance. Now I’m once again considering joining ROTC. I understand that I will not receive that scholarship or any financial assistance for that matter. I would just like to serve my country. I looked into the differences between OCS (Officer Candidate School) and ROTC and it seems that ROTC would at least give me the opportunity to see if the military life is for me before I commit a few years of my life to it.

    I heard from a friend who joined ROTC his freshman year that as an engineer you mainly do design work, but that once you are promoted beyond lieutenant you manage teams of people rather than doing the nitty gritty design work. Is he right?

    I also have aspirations beyond the military and was wondering how service would fit into my long term goals. I’m interested in mining asteroids, colonizing Mars, or terraforming desert, if I can’t get off planet. I would eventually like to start my own company.

    Since I don’t plan on making a career of the military, I’d like to learn more about how serving would affect a civilian career in engineering, before I contact the UMN detachment.

    What is it like transitioning from the military to civilian life if you’re an engineer? Is it hard to find a job after being out of the industry for several years? Does service essentially entail losing the 4-6 years of career and salary growth? In other words, would I, at 26 be put at the same position as I would if I didn’t join and went to work in the private sector straight out of college at 22? Financially speaking, I know that I’d make a lot more in the private sector. However, can the military come at least a little close if you include all of the benefits?

    Beyond that, what are your experiences with working in the military? Any advice you have? Are there certain things I should consider that I may not have, or are there benefits to service that I may have overlooked?

    Thank you very much for your feedback!
     
  2. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Since you aren't on scholarship you can always join and see how it fits you. I think you need to really explore the difference between officer branches/service selection for USAF and USA. The USAF has a lot more engineering and acquisition fields and as a career field than the Army out of the door. Also if you take a look and search on this forum there are lots of info about these career fields. Remember the military is training you to lead. They can hire civilian engineers all day long and pay engineering firms to design things every single day. As an officer in these fields your hands on designing is going to be limited. Why? They paid to train you to lead. In these fields it means leading teams of engineers and ensuring the government is getting what they need and are paying for. The USA tends to work closer like the USMC in these fields. Do a tour or two as an officer in a Branch then transition into acquisition and engineering.

    As far as pay and benefits. They aren't bad. Are they the same as a 22-24 year old entering an engineering firm. Probably close in some areas when you total benefits. The tax breaks and zero cost health insurance is pretty huge. If your goal is to be a hands on engineer the 4-6 year commitment would put you behind your peers. Why? Because you won't be an entry level engineer when you leave service. You will be targeted to manage and lead engineering teams, which is different than hands on engineering. As someone who works in this field... There are two paths... Essentially consulting level engineering or management. If you want to stay close to engineering you will grow to be a consulting level engineer or be snatched up to manage engineering teams. It all depends what you want and what your goals are. If being a 22 year old who is taking requirements and specs and designing with the latest software is what excites you, the military is probably not going to make you happy. Working as civilian engineer or at an engineering firm who supports the DoD/NASA/JPL is probably a better fit. Also, there are no guarantees in the military. What happens if you end up in logistics? If that prospect makes you cringe, then you really need to think.
     
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  3. mil.intel

    mil.intel Member

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    I don't intend to hijack the thread, but I was also interested in post-service life of an AF engineer. How would it play out if I wanted to get an MBA degree?
     
  4. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    What do you mean by going to get your MBA? Sure go earn one, plenty of folks do it. What specifically are you asking about in regards to it.
     
  5. mil.intel

    mil.intel Member

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    Would AF assist with tuition for post-college degrees? Also would it be smart getting the MBA during or after service?
     
  6. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Yes. There are several ways to earn a degree on active duty. One way is to go at night and use tuition assistance. This would allow more flexibility in pursuing a degree you want. The other option is to get selected for post grad education. This is normally followed with a 'pay back' tour of some kind. The military isn't going to educate you and let you go. They want to use your knowledge to help the service. I have friends who have gotten them during and after service. After service they had much more flexibility on where and what they studied, but it also comes with a larger price tag. It's whatever works for you. Remember you are probably looking at this right now as a 16-19 year old. When you make these decisions you could be a 25 year old possibly married and maybe starting a family. So decisions like staying in and getting out, education, etc could be much more complicated than it seems now.
     
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