Take charge of your career to ensure success

  • Published
  • By Capt. Elizabeth Caraway
  • 445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
We all hope for supervisors that are attuned to our career trajectory and committed to helping us reach our goals, but the reality, according to 445th Command Chief Master Sgt. Peri Rogowski is that "you and only you are responsible for the success or demise of your own career." Whether officer or enlisted, there are several steps you can take to achieve personal career success--whether "success" is characterized by rank, specific job positions or duty assignments, or by meeting a more subjective goal, such as sharing knowledge with younger Airmen.

First, you should identify your goals, said Master Sgt. Rhoda Salinas, 445th Chief of Force Management. "Where do you want to be when you retire? You can retire as a staff sergeant or as a chief master sergeant. You want to make the choices that will get you where you be."

Once you've identified your goals, Salinas said, "Find a good mentor, a role model that has already attained the goals that you strive for. For example, if you want to be a chief, talk to chiefs about their experiences. Ask questions, listen to their advice."

You may not always find the information you need through conversations with others. In that case, "Be industrious. Network with other bases to seek and find solutions," urged Master Sgt. Victoria Errett, 445th Chief of Career Development. Errett said sometimes Airmen are surprised when someone fails to track them down to fill out paperwork or forms that are critical to their career path. "Don't expect someone else to take charge of your career," she said.

Likewise, don't be afraid to tell your supervisor when you think you may be competitive for a quarterly award. He or she may not be aware of your accomplishments during the week. "Follow a whole-person concept. If you can excel not only at your job, but you've been getting involved, participating in wing events, volunteering within your community, pursuing knowledge advancements, then people will notice you," said Rogowski. "It's like that saying, 'The cream will rise to the top.'"

For officers, Salinas counsels, "You have to know how to supervise and how to conduct feedback. If something isn't working in your office, figure out a way to make it work better. Don't be afraid to make changes that will impact others."

Thankfully, there are many resources out there to assist members. From the Air Force Portal home page, you can access your personal development plan from the "Life and Career" drop down menu. All Airmen, officer and enlisted, should keep their development plan updated. Air Force Instruction 36-2618, Enlisted Force Structure, details specific responsibilities expected of each rank. Additionally, Salinas highly recommends using the Air Force Enlisted Classification Directory to clarify the qualifications necessary to perform each job for each specific Air Force Specialty. "Know your job. People will go to you when they have questions when they recognize that you know what's going on."

As reservists, we also have the added responsibility of tracking points. All the personnelists emphasized the importance of learning the points system and keeping track of your records. Concluded Senior Master Sgt. Patricia Wortham, Airman and Family Readiness Center, "It's all about self-initiation. Most of the career responsibility lies with the individual." 

445th personnelists conduct in-house training on both unit training assemblies. All 445th Airmen are welcome to attend. Topics vary each month and cover diverse career aspects like promotions, transitions, and assignments. To learn more about the month's particular training topic, reference the SharePoint site or contact Master Sgt. James Hyland.