Today, I want to share some helpful career advice I learned early on in my Army career. That advice is to take AT LEAST one new class every single year. This could be a college class, a military class, a resident class, distance learning course, correspondence course, or anything else.
You see, I am a BIG fan of life-long education. I believe we all have the responsibility to sharpen our skills, learn something new each day, and continuously improve. One of the best way to do that is to take classes regularly. These include formal and informal classes. They don’t all have to be military specific classes either.
Even as a National Guard or Army Reserve Soldier, you should follow this advice. It’s not that hard to enroll in a distance learning course, some correspondence courses, OES or NCOES, professional development classes or even college classes. In fact, you have more options available to you than you probably even realize.
You get several tangible and intangible benefits by taking classes every single year.
First and foremost, you are learning new skills. When you take classes, you can learn lots of different things that will benefit you in your military and civilian career. You might learn something about your MOS, something leadership related, or even an off topic that will benefit you. The more skills you can develop the more valuable you are to the Army. And the more valuable you are to the Army the more opportunities you will have.
Next, you meet new people. When you take classes, especially resident classes, you get to meet other military personnel and even some civilians. If you do things right, you can build friendships and even professional working relationships with some of these people. This is a great way to network and meet new people. These new relationships can lead to new friendships, new jobs, and even new opportunities later on down the road.
Furthermore, you can also receive promotion points or retirement points. Most classes offer enlisted Soldiers some type of promotion points. This is pretty awesome when you think about it. Not only do you learn, but you can increase your points at the same time. I personally know that college classes, correspondence courses and formal military schools are all worth promotion points.
Finally, by taking classes frequently you are quickly distinguishing yourself from your peers. Since most Soldiers don’t take new classes every single year, this is a great way to stand out in the crowd. The courses can be documented on your evaluation reports. You can learn new skills that qualify you for a variety of jobs and you can get new opportunities that you might not have otherwise received.
If I was going to tell you what I recommend, this would be it:
1. Take at least one college class every year
2. Complete 5-10 correspondence courses each year
3. Attend one formal OES, NCOES or professional development course each year
4. Complete one distance learning course each year
Think about how much you would accomplish if you did that EVERY YEAR of your career! Think about how much new stuff you would learn.
In summary, some of the best Army career advice I can share with you is to take at least one class every single year. Be a student of your profession and stay on the cutting edge. Take at least once class per year, whether it is a college class, correspondence course, OES/NCOES, professional development, etc. And if at all possible, follow my four step recommendation that I listed above. This will allow you to stand out in the crowd and learn about new opportunities you might not have otherwise qualified for.