Perhaps the best way to get some insight into the makings of a great career is to talk to the professionals who have already taken that journey. The Air Force has a cadre of people, in many different fields and at many different levels, who share similar advice about how they made it to their current position and how working for the Air Force has enhanced their personal and professional lives. Common themes we’ve heard from AFRL employees include the impact of mentoring on their careers, taking advantage of educational opportunities, the decision to career broaden, and expanding their careers while always maintaining a healthy life balance and positive attitude.
One element crucial to job success is looking to mentors to help guide and shape emerging careers. Many AFRL employees stress the importance of having mentors and emphasize the roles their mentors have played in their career development. Asking for advice and following the lead of those seasoned workers can provide tremendous guidance for the young worker looking to find his or her place in the organization. Many new AFRL employees say the mentors they admired still continue to influence their careers today. They credit much of their success to these important role models.
Training and Education
One of the most important factors in creating a great career is getting a great education. Many jobs within AFRL require an advanced degree, and a well-educated employee is regarded highly in all career fields. The Air Force offers many opportunities for educational advancement, and seizing those opportunities will set an employee apart from the crowd. Most AFRL professionals agree that achieving the highest educational degree possible early in their career is one of the best ways to open up career opportunities.
Another factor that goes hand-in-hand with a great education is career diversification. AFRL encourages its employees to take new job opportunities to broaden their experience base. For some, this can entail taking on an assignment within a new field of expertise, and for others, it can mean relocating geographically and/or to a different organization within the Department of Defense. These career broadening opportunities expand the AFRL employee’s knowledge base and can make him or her a more valuable team member.
Reaching for job opportunities that fall outside of the employee’s “comfort zone” is a good way to gain a broader understanding of the AFRL mission and to become an expert in many fields. Although these assignments may seem uncomfortable at first, many AFRL employees find them invaluable in terms of professional and personal growth.