Secret Army Career Tip: Be a Student of Your Profession

When you study the most successful people in life, you will quickly discover that they are students of their profession.  They do everything they can do to get a cutting edge over their peers.  They subscribe to publications and magazines, they join trade associations, they network with other successful people, they read books, they attend seminars, etc.  Successful Army leaders do the same thingThey are students of their profession.

How exactly can you be a student of your profession?  Here are a few of my best tips:

# 1 Read More

Leaders are readers.  You should make it a point to read at least one book each month about your MOS, your career field, the military or even subjects such as leadership, communication and conflict resolution.  One book a month would be the bare bones minimum.  One book a week would be my suggested dose if you are really serious about your Army career.  Even if you don’t like to read, I consider this step vital.

army student
Be a Student of Your Profession

# 2 Subscribe to Publications

Every MOS has publications.  There is an Infantry Publication, a Quartermaster Publication, etc.  Find out what professional publications interest you the most and subscribe to them.  Even if there is a small subscription fee, it is worth it.  You will learn about what is going on in your “trade” and you will sharpen your skills.  You will also learn about meetings, events, and influential people.

# 3 Join Associations

There are many associations in the Army.  You should join the National Guard Association, Army Reserve Association, or Army Association. Most divisions and branches have their own association too.  I would join the association for your MOS or branch, your division, and one for your service component.  Joining all three will cost you about $100 per year (or less) and is a wise investment for your future.  If possible, become active in your association and attend events, meetings, etc.

# 4 Attend Events & Seminars

Successful leaders attend seminars and training events every year.  Make it a goal to attend at least one seminar each year.  Study subjects such as leadership, communication and conflict resolution.  Do what you can to sharpen your skills.  Most seminars are affordable and are offered at convenient times, such as evenings or weekends.  You should also attend your association events.

# 5 Network with Other Successful People

If you do the following four things mentioned above, you will meet plenty of people you can network with.  Look for successful retirees or current people holding the rank you wish to attain.  Get to know these people and ask them questions and career advice.  Pick their brain and learn what you can from them.  It will help you immensely.

Final Thoughts

These are just a few things that Army leaders can do to be a student of their profession.  If you aren’t already doing these things in your own Army career, you are way behind the power curve.  I highly recommend you be a student of your profession as quickly as possible.  Get started and never stop!  I’ve found that the most successful Army leaders do these five things on a regular basis.  If it works for them, I know it will work for you too.

What are your thoughts? Do you have any other tips for being a student of your profession? Do you have any questions? Just post them below in the comment section.

5 thoughts on “Secret Army Career Tip: Be a Student of Your Profession”

  1. Being a student of one’s profession works. I am a lifelong student of every person, book, and experience, cherishing every tidbit of knowledge available.When I owned a company that was a government contractor, I attended years of local AFCEA meetings where I networked with military personnel and participated in a variety of presentations. AFCEA gave me opportunities to volunteer in fundraising events for the organization and for military family needs. Joining associations is money and time well-spent.

  2. Neil O'Donnell

    Whether a soldier sticks with one MOS for her/his career or if the soldier tries several, it is vital to keep up to date on new developments in the respective field(s). Failure to keep current could lead to a soldier being passed over for promotion. Attending events and seminars are a great idea, because you can find workshops or lectures on topics relevant to several MOS’s. Additionally, networking at such events could provide you with guidance to which associations and publications are worthwhile and which are a waste of time.

    1. The best Soldiers are constantly learning. They read books, have mentors, attend schools, go to conferences and do whatever they can to sharpen their skills and be the best they can be.

  3. If you want to take being a student of your profession one step further, in addition to reading publications specific to your career (like Infantry or Armor magazines), one day you should write for them. The branch-specific journals don’t have a staff of reporters writing those articles; they come from people in the field. If you have something to contribute, you can get plenty of visibility by getting an article published. (All the journals have contribution guidelines readily available.) Don’t be discouraged if you’re not a top-notch writer–find a colleague who is, and collaborate on the article. You’ll see many published pieces with two names on the byline. There are also plenty of places to get published online.

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