It is important to remember that professional development isn’t always just a matter of education and experience. Another factor in achieving a satisfying career is striving for a balance between work, family, community, and leisure activities. This is an often-overlooked part of the successful career path, but one vitally important to an employee’s happiness and overall sense of well-being.
AFRL encourages its employees to maintain a healthy life balance between work and their personal life and to give back to their communities through service and volunteerism. Employees who achieve the right balance between their professional and personal lives are likely to feel more satisfied within their careers and be of greater service to their workplace and community.
The Air Force Core Values are Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do. Not all career advice comes from a textbook or a website. Some advice does not focus on what tasks you must complete to advance your career or what boxes to check. This advice is not about what to do, but rather how to do it. Things like determination, drive, honesty, integrity, and service will help you achieve a great career more than any singular achievement. The key point here is to understand the values that are reflected in our AFRL role models. If you talk with all of the AFRL role models, you will see that they may have all accomplished different goals and taken different paths to obtain their own great career, but their underlying values are common. These values reflect the Air Force’s own core values and focus on integrity, service and excellence. These are not just words, but the foundation of our great leaders and the values of a great career.
Integrity First: Integrity is a matter of keeping one’s word, doing the right things, and not letting others down. A strong sense of integrity not only gives AFRL employees a strong basis for all the projects they embark upon, but it also lets others know the employee can be counted on to do a good job in an ethical manner. Building a good reputation as a reliable, honest employee is the key to developing good relationships and effective work relationships with fellow workers and outside contacts.
Service Before Self: AFRL employees must keep in mind that they are part of a larger organization. It is important to keep personal aspirations in sync with the AFRL mission. A wise AFRL employee learns to think corporately, not individually. For most employees, it will soon become apparent that advancing the AFRL mission results in personal advancement. Hard work will be noticed by supervisors, which will open up new opportunities for career growth.
Excellence in All We Do: AFRL employees should help demonstrate that AFRL is a world-class organization. Taking pride in work and demonstrating a willingness to learn new things is the core of excellence. AFRL employees demonstrate a professional attitude and strive to be the best, brightest, and most efficient workers. AFRL as an organization is only as good as the individuals that comprise it.
While the Air Force’s core values form a strong basis for a good career, there are other life lessons that have made AFRL leaders what they are today. These lessons include teamwork, forming good relationships, being flexible, asking questions, and networking. When combined with the basic core values, these life lessons can help you excel in the AFRL workplace.
Teamwork: Most projects within AFRL require work as a team. It is important to learn not only how to lead a team, but how to be a good team member. It is important to learn how to work effectively with other people and incorporate new approaches and suggestions. A good team member approaches a project with a willingness to bring his or her own ideas, but also flexibility in hearing the ideas of others.
Good Relationships with Others: A life lesson that goes hand-in-hand with teamwork is the importance of developing good relationships. Understanding fellow workers and demonstrating a cooperative spirit is a good way to develop not only good working relationships, but also lasting friendships.
Flexibility: Since most projects within AFRL require the cooperation of many different parties, it is important to be willing to drop preconceived ideas and try different avenues to get where you want to go. Recognizing the validity of other ideas is very important when working with others, whether in a group situation or simply when working toward the same goal. Flexibility can also lead to learning and growth opportunities.
Flexibility can lead to new career opportunities as well. It is important not to get so comfortable with one job that other possibilities are ruled out. Remain open to new opportunities and new challenges.
Ask Questions: It is impossible to learn without asking questions. Whether it is from a co-worker, supervisor, or mentor, the guidance of others is essential and invaluable. The guidance of others can help with career decisions or everyday situations that arise on the job. It is important to remember that even the best leaders ask questions every day.
Networking: Networking is one of the most critical aspects of the AFRL worker’s job. Through the working relationships that are developed both within AFRL and outside the organization, a good employee can form contacts that can be beneficial in many ways. These contacts can provide valuable assistance with important projects and can also help the AFRL employee learn about and take advantage of new career opportunities.