Are you getting the full experience?


Master Sgt. Ida Bushey

One role I have as a career assistance advisor is to assist Airmen interested in retraining from their current career field or Air Force specialty code. I often ask them, “Why do you want to retrain to another career?” The answers vary from, “I don’t like the people I work with,” to “my recruiter lied to me!”
I’ve noticed some feel if they were in a different career field they would be more satisfied with the Air Force. They base their happiness on obtaining what they think is the ideal career. For most, retraining into a different career field is not an option either because the career they want is not available or they are ineligible at that point in their enlistment.
Truth be told, this short Air Force journey is not about having the ideal career. It’s about the experiences. There is so much more to being an Airman than just an AFSC — it’s the experiences.
How many other career fields allow its employees to travel the globe, possibly making the Louvre in Paris, France, a stop along the way? Or stepping foot into Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany. Or being a few hundred miles away from Grand Canyon — one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
Anyone who has changed duty locations understands the reflecting one does prior to departing. You think about the people you’ve met, both those you’re happy to see in the rearview mirror, and those you will truly miss. No matter the emotion, the experiences you shared make you better.
Fortunately, the Air Force rotates personnel, which allows you to meet more people, learn something new and grow from those wiser than you. Each new person you encounter has a story, a culture and experiences you know nothing about. When you value their knowledge enough to seek it out, you grow. A few words from the wise are invaluable.
I encourage Airmen to think of the Air Force as a series of stepping stones. With each step you take another stone is revealed. Step out of your comfort zone — explore new culture, attend a college class, join a professional organization and travel at each assignment. Soon you will start to appreciate being one of the fortunate few to be called an Airman. With appreciation of those experiences, you can focus less on your AFSC not being all you dreamed it would be and more on where the Air Force needs you to be.
“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
—Eleanor Roosevelt