6 answers

How can I gain experience before joining the military?

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I am in 11th grade, 16 years old.
#mil #military #army #navy #air-force #college #educator

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6 answers

Mitchell’s Answer

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One of the best parts about enlisted military life (and even commissioned officer life in many ways) is that they train you for your job as if you had no prior experience. I do IT work as an enlisted person and luckily I had pretty substantial computer experience before I joined, but my schooling really did start from basic "how to use Windows" level stuff. If you want to prepare for what you'll be doing while you're enlisted, I suggest getting some general baseline knowledge in whatever field you're interested in (and not saying yes to a recruiter until they tell you in writing that you'll be doing that). If you want to be a welder, read some books or take a class. If you want to do IT work like me, brush up on your computer operation skills and maybe do some googling on basic network things. Really low-level stuff is required since they'll train everyone the same.

Even officers, who have to have a college degree, get trained heavily in leadership and the specifics of their job (surface warfare, pilots, submariners, etc.)

The number one thing that will make joining easier is getting in shape. Push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, and running. Do those until they're like breathing and you'll be amazed how much more your leadership will warm up to you since nowadays, physical fitness is declining among the ranks. Good luck!

Mitchell recommends the following next steps:

  • Decide what you want to do specifically
  • Get a baseline knowledge in that field
  • Get out there and run!
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John’s Answer

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JROTC would be an option. I would recommend getting a mentor. Someone that served in the branch and field you desire to be a part of and learn some good first hand experience.

I joined the Navy blind and did little research prior to. Next thing i knew it, I was promoted to E7 staring down retirement.
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Jennifer’s Answer

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I too suggest investigating JROTC or Civil Air Patrol. Both of these would prep you for entrance into any branch of service.
Be sure to prepare yourself physically and mentally for this journey. If you have a branch in mind, find out what their
physical requirements are and begin preparing for them. As far as mental preparedness, the military is what you make it.
Understand what the military is really like by talking to currently serving members of all branches. This will help you
understand what they do on a daily basis and what some of the differences are between the branches. These differences
could help you select the best fitting branch for you.

Think about what you want to get out of your military experience. Think about what job you would like in the future, after
your military career. Ask recruiters what jobs are offering signup bonuses and which career fields prepare you for industry
certifications. These are all factors that should play into your decisions.

If you enlist in the military also think about future education options. What does each branch offer for advancement and
educational opportunities. How can you prepare yourself for success after your military career is over.

Best of luck from a former enlisted Air Force aircraft mechanic.
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Carla’s Answer

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I joined JROTC in high school which helped me decide on a military career. If you have one at your school, sign up for it. You can also talk to the JROTC instructions about their experiences to get their insights. I also started running more and doing pushups prior to starting Army basic training. I found that by the time I got to basic training, I was able to complete 20 in a row, while other recruits were barely able to do 1 single pushup. Gaining physical fitness will be a good key to your success.
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Dawn’s Answer

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If you’re going to do ROTC, once you’re done and get to your unit find a senior ranking officer (I’d be safe with O-4 and above) and a senior ranking NCO (E-7 is pretty safe, but you can sometimes find quality in E-5 and E-6) and let them mentor you.

Absorb their knowledge and see how it works with everything you’ve learned. If you want to really become an effective officer, get this guidance and work with your troops. You’re the planner and they’re the ones who act, but if you suggest impractical assignments and stuff that’s bonkers you’ll struggle.
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Rory’s Answer

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You can inquire about JROTC programs at your high school or nearby high school. You can also ask a military recruiter at their office or when they visit your high school. It would also help to exercise daily to get your body used to it. Reading books by veterans about why they chose to serve would give you their perspective. I had an Uncle I first met at age 12 who told me to take all the math, science and English classes I could in high school to prepare me any opportunities I pre-qualified for. I also worked at the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) as my last duty station and gave tests to those seeking different training paths.

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