MTI Collective 3.21.24: Love your career? How did you get started and advice to your younger self

“For those of you in career fields you enjoy: What career field are you in? How did you get started?”

  • I’m a firefighter. I started volunteering as a teenager and when I got out of the military I got back into volunteer firefighting. I decided if I enjoy doing it as a volunteer, I’d probably love it as a full time job, and I do.
  • USAF SERE Specialist, I joined the AF in 2005 as an open general mechanic, but thankfully during basic training I was able to reclass into the SERE career field.
  • DOD Instructor
  • Currently in law enforcement, but also army. Got started 10 years ago after my deployment to Afghanistan
  • Unmanned aviation, specifically teaching and advanced instructing. I got here out of desperation in the 2008 recession, when other aviation careers were dried up. I approached the new career direction with an open mind, trying to learn everything I could. That work ethic led to opportunities I couldn’t have dreamed of in places I never imagined. Now I’m teaching, hoping to inspire others with the same sense of purpose.
  •  Broadcasting.Started at cbs news for a decade. Now top commentator at WWE 
  • Firefighter/Paramedic. I took a EMT class to meet women, which worked! I meet my wife there. 
  • I am the founder and lead pastor of a church in Katy, TX. After serving in the 82nd Airborne, college at Baylor, and a stint with P&G in sales management, I felt called by God to start seminary. After completing my masters I pastored a church and then began a church in 1994. I love helping people experience meaning and purpose in their lives through a personal relationship with God. After all, what does it profit a man if he gains the world but loses his soul?
  • Fire Service. Volunteer. 
  • LE. Caught the bug as a teenager and chased it…
  • Federal Law Enforcement/Investigations
  • Military Pilot. My Dad gifted me an incentive flight as a teenager and the Instructor Pilot on that flight was positive and encouraging showing me it was financially possible to pay for flight lessons and get my pilot’s license. I got a job the next week and paid for every lesson until passing the check flight right before college. In college I earned an ROTC scholarship and pilot slot and have been flying ever since then. 
  • I am, currently, an honorably discharged veteran.I was an Airborne qualified soldier in the US Army.I may find myself returning to Active Duty in the US Army, or a similar, or adjacent career field either due to current events that will be shaping our near future and American history, or at minimum because of the ongoing operations that take place around the world in support of the stated goals of Operation Noble Eagle ("The Draft" or "in-call" respectively.).
  • Fugitive recovery. Started at a county jail back in 2016 then went to work a multi security level state prison. Joined SRT and tried out for the recovery unit. Every step was a building block to climb the mountain.
  • I'm a marketing manager in the hook and bullet outdoor industry. I got into it via 20 years in journalism and the willingness to take pay cuts as I moved from that to my first marketing position in social media. I took a short-term hit to play the long game.
  • Marine Corps infantry. I knew since high school that this community of warriors was where I belonged. I started martial arts at a young age and began competing young as well. As high school graduation grew near, I was faced with a choice to continue to train and attempt to seek fortune and fame within a cage or ring, or to seek the actual definition of "martial" to the art and take the path which offered no round timers and referees, but only misery and sacrifice. I didn't know what I was getting into. And some days I do wonder what another life might have held for me. But I could go back, I wouldn't change a damn thing.
  • I am a Union Carpenter by trade. I started helping my brother with side jobs and fell in love with working with my hands. I applied to my Local and was lucky enough to get in and start my apprenticeship.
  • Def Contracting, ITPM
  • Fire department. 
  • Strength and Conditioning. Collegiate 25 years, military / SOF 10 years.Upon college football completion and graduation, took a Graduate Assistant S&C job @Purdue.
  • Law Enfocement, currently a Wildlife Trooper. Got started as a patrol Trooper in an urban area, then changed divisions and moved to a rural Wildlife Trooper posting. 
  • Police Officer. I left college not knowing what I wanted to do, and found myself applying for every job I could find but hating the idea of having to do any of them. I looked into a military career first, but realised that I was really past the stage in my life where I was excited by the idea of moving every couple of years and spending large amounts of time away from my then girlfriend (now wife). In hindsight I wish I had looked into that when I finished school, I would definitely have saved myself from a lot of pointless student loans debt! I wound up applying for and joining a Police force away from my then home because I wanted to do something more exciting than sitting at a desk replying to emails all day 
  • National Park Service backcountry ranger. Volunteered for the Student Conservation Association after college. 
  • Federal Law Enforcement. I worked in Security (clubs and pubs) for several years but wanted to move into a more active law enforcement role and so I applied at several agencies, and accepted the one I thought best for me and my situation.
  • Federal LE
  • Law Enforcement. After completing Army Infantry OSUT for the National Guard, I got a job in corrections at my sheriff's department. I was then given the chance to go to police academy, I graduated academy, and I've been a cop for around a decade now.

“What has made you stay, or what has made you leave this career field?”

  • The purpose. Sometimes it’s hard to remember it but with this career you have purpose. You are interacting with people and helping to fix a situation for them. Even though the call may be lame or annoying to us, we are there to help. 
  • The SERE career field is constantly evolving with global threats/conflicts. This allows us to receive continuous education, training, and certifications in various skills in order to better prepare the war fighters and to execute successful search and rescue and combat search and rescue missions. We are truly a Jack of all trades, master of none. 
  • Since I cannot find a job in a field for which I have a passion, I continue to do what I am able for the SOF community.
  • Always wanted to be a cop and I love making sure the bad guys stay off the streets
  • What’s made me stay is the people. I’ve been close to total burnout several times, but then someone comes along who is earnestly trying to learn as much as they can from me, and I remember it’s not about me. Learning to set boundaries and clear goals has helped ease the burnout so I have more to offer. 
  • Best job ever.  Challenge. 
  • What keeps me excited about my job is the randomness of calls, from mundane invalid assist to a commercial structure fire.
  • I have stayed because it requires me to grow as the church grows. I like hard things, challenges, and change, and this is definitely what keeps me going. I love watching people grow, change, mature, and then give back to others.
  • Stability. 
  • Constant advancement of career made me stay… instructor jobs, detectives, warrant task force, regional response team, fed task force 
  • Mental challenges and job satisfaction 
  • Good leaders have incentivized me to stay. I’ve had good leadership for the majority of my career and have followed them through tough circumstances. I want to be the same kind of leader. 
  • I always wanted to be a soldier.  I left Active Duty due to a number of factors that I refrain from explaining subjectively as I get older.  Objectively, it was a combination of traumatic stress, wear and tear as well as legitimately untreated injuries that are commonplace in the Airborne, and how that combination affected my work performance; I had also completed my minimum contractually agreed up time needed to complete Active and Reserve time, so the opportunity to leave Active Duty presented itself.  My eight years were up, and I found a construction job proactively before leaving active duty, or even starting the full out-process in order to satisfy the local commander requirements for soldiers leaving the Active Duty service.
  • Biggest thing that has kept me is the stability. Tried multiple times to switch paths but ultimately got into an amazing position. 
  • There are several things that have made me stay. The spirit, dedication, discipline, and cohesion of our young Marines is one of the strongest reasons to stay. These young men are the flower of America's youth and the best our nation has to offer. They are as good today as any Marine has ever been. From the desert, to the mountain, the jungle, the city, the ocean, or the Pacific beaches, these savage and professional warfighters want nothing more than the opportunity to close with and destroy our nation's enemies. Without truly knowing for what they ask, they yet earnestly seek the opportunity to prove their worth in the crucible of fire. The warrior society remains strong. 
    The deepest reason I have stayed is from the deep and visceral understanding of the unimaginable horrors of war that await these young men if their leadership fails to set conditions for their success against the enemy in close combat. I have had leaders throughout the years from whom I have learned much, and from them and my own personal study I humbly believe that I may yet contribute to the building of a team which is not just capable of winning, but winning quickly, winning repeatedly at relatively low cost, and bringing home our warriors physically and psychologically whole. My study of history and human nature has thoroughly convinced me that it is not a question of if, but when, this formation will again be called upon to answer our nation's call to war. My disposition is such that I would never again be able to look in a mirror if I had not given every fiber of being to ensuring that they were ready to win and survive when the time comes to answer that call.
  • What has made me stay is multiple things. Job satisfaction, ability to provide for my family, room for growth, and much more. 
  • Money
  • The evolution of the job. 
    Picking a speciality, technical rescue and USAR. Learning from others around the world and passing that knowledge on to newer members to create a better department and people who are inspired to be better. 
  • Big time college football coaching is a selfish time consuming beautiful addiction.  It fed my soul and gave me financial life I didn't think possible.  I left 10 yrs ago when recruiting and other issues consistently presented me with 16hr days. 5-7 days a week.  It was not a good lifeplan for my wife and I. I was hired as contractor early in the POTFF hiring wave.  It representened life balance, solid salary and travel opportunities.
  • Variety of work, ability to work cases to their natural conclusion, support from supervisors, training provided, and the generally beautiful environments I get to work in and protect. 
  • I was at one point seriously considering leaving, having become stuck in a role I hated where we would almost daily have to guard crime scenes or escort detainees to and from hospital. I applied for a specialist operational role where we are responsible primarily for rapid entry arrest and search warrants,  and riot/crowd control policing. I enjoy the operations, there is no better feeling than when everybody has their assigned role and the team works together to smoothly execute a plan. Having done this for around half my career now, I am approaching the point where I will look to move on to something new. I think the best thing about being a police officer in a major metropolitan area is the number of different roles available to you during your career. If you find yourself getting too comfortable then there is always an opportunity to go and seek a new challenge.
  • I get to walk around in the backcountry all day in spectacular locations, talk to people from all over the world, protect the resource and participate in Search and Rescue, fire fighting, EMS and resource management. Season 29 coming up in May.
  • I believe I make a positive impact on my community by doing what I do, and enjoying what I do. 
  • Variety, challenging, satisfying work
  • I enjoy solving problems. 

“If you could talk to yourself when first considering this career field, what would you say?”

  • Start testing now. Test for as many departments as you can. If you don’t like a department (for a good reason) you can always test at another department.
  • Dude, get your mind, body and spirit prepared for a wild ride that will take you all over the globe and expose to you situations, people, and culture you could have never imagined. 
  • Don't stop looking for your ideal job.
  • Telling myself that I am not in high school anymore and that I need to continue my physical work
  • Be humble, don’t think you have all the answers just because you’re the only one doing it. Lean on the ideas and experience of your team. 
  • Take the exact same path!
  • Network early. Get your name and face out there asap!
  • If you don't love people, don't do this. If you are just looking for a job or a paycheck, don't do this. It is rewarding on so many levels, but it requires everything in you to be a learner, a leader, and a lover of God and others. But in a self-centered and often self-serving world, there are people who are selfless and want to make a difference. If that's you, then pastoral ministry is a definite option.
  • If you don't love people, don't do this. If you are just looking for a job or a paycheck, don't do this. It is rewarding on so many levels, but it requires everything in you to be a learner, a leader, and a lover of God and others. But in a self-centered and often self-serving world, there are people who are selfless and want to make a difference. If that's you, then pastoral ministry is a definite option.
  • I’d give the advice I got along the way so I’d have it sooner. Long list. 
  • Maintain a high level of physical fitness; take every training/learning/certification offered; save and invest as much as you can because you can’t do this job forever.
  • Get engineering degrees no matter what. A bachelors and masters in Engineering creates the largest amount of opportunities in military and civilian flying as well as competitiveness for Astronaut selection. 
  • "Airborne.  All the way."  With the "community college" caveat of "but also" to remember to take care of myself better, especially for the wear and tear associated with being on active Jump Status.  Like it is stated in the film "Fury:" the Army was the best job I ever had, so I wouldn't talk myself out of it.  The Army makes a person a better human being and American, if they want it.
  • Corrections will change you. Change you're entire view on things. Keep your eyes open and mouth shut as long as possible and invest. Invest more than what you think you can.
  • Just get used to the fact that "pay for play" is a staple in outdoor media. If you want an article about a new product, you'll have to write a check for it. Also, outdoors knowledge is great but study marketing trends and the latest news about social media algorithms. Realize your KPIs may shift from month to month. Authenticity matters, the public is more media savvy now than ever before. If you want to market to Gen Z, your Gen X ass needs some help from a youngster. 
  • Begin a professionally-designed PT program (such as MTI programs) and religiously track your efforts. Study technique and anatomy and physiology. Dedicate time to recovery and mobility and sustainable habits. Understand that consistency is more important than intensity, but still bring all the intensity you can muster. Balance your time to maintain skill sets such as marksmanship and combatives. Those can count as physical training as well.
  • I wish I would have started sooner, but better late than never. Be patient, the tough days will pass and things will get better. Always listen and pay attention to the guys who have been doing this a long time.
    With the same dedication that you seek physical dominance, you must also study the profession and the universal aspects of human nature that you may also acheive moral and mental dominance. Napoleon said that in war, the moral is to the physical as three is to one. That's why he ended up losing at Waterloo. It's closer to ten to one. Boyd accurately listed the precedence of the domains of war with the moral at the top, followed by the mental, and then the physical. But these domains are not always mutually exclusive. As Maj Winters said, physical stamina is the foundation of mental toughness. 
    Build habits that reflect an inherent commitment to excellence. Arete. How you do anything is how you do everything.  The "how" is more important than the "what." "We are what we repeatedly do..." displace from your life that which detracts from your realization of what you see you potential to be. Spend less time with toxic friends. Spend less nights drinking and smoking. Find a romantic relationship that is mature and mutual and loving. Pursue meaningful and beneficial pursuits. 
    All of the hours outside of your training time do more to determine your performance than hours spent within training sessions. "If you love life, then don't waste time, for time is the substance of life." 
    Discipline is discipline. Be disciplined. Research is now confirming this. The Anterior Mid Cingulate Cortex is plastic throughout life. It can be trained just as a muscle can be trained. Do hard shit. 
    Don't ever be caught without your knife. 
  • Stay in government service. 
  • Continue to work hard. 
    Surround yourself with those like minded people and don’t allow people to negatively influence your passions and goals. 
    Hard work and determination with this mindset will trump everything. 
  • Stay abreast of the industrial trends, look into adding another hard skill degree like registered Dietitian to broaden my opportunities. Do it. You’re going to see and do a lot of things that few others will, and many would pay to see/do. You’re going to get to live where others pay thousands of dollars to visit for a few days and wish they could stay longer
  • Don't feel like you need to be super cop from day 1. Nobody expects you to know everything when you're new (even if it feels like it) and people will actually respect the honesty if you ask for help because you don't know how to do something, or what to do. Try not to care too much what other people's opinion of you is. Some (but not all) people you will work with will have decided their opinion on you before they even meet you, and no matter how many times you prove yourself they will never change their mind. It's not worth your time or energy worrying about what they think. Just focus your time and energy in becoming the best you can at your job and in being a good team player.
  • See what work life balance actually is. Not what it appears on the good days but all the days. What does work look like when you have something important come up that requires you to miss? Do the hours of work line up with how you want to live? 
    I know I took a job and chased a dream of big pay check and more freedom. The job never offered the freedom of being the “employer” and now facing tough decisions. 
  • Don't wait! It's going to be a great adventure, but don't skimp on sunscreen or water. 
  • Stay out of trouble, be kind to everyone - even your adversaries, set an example for your children - do it for them above all, and always aim higher until you know you have reached where you want to be.
  • Find the most successful people and offer help and ask questions. 
  • Start sooner. 

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