Take early, active role in career … it’s yours!

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Mark Jackson
  • 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron
During a recent Luke Air Force Base Top 3 meeting, two chiefs gave a briefing geared toward providing guidance and feedback on the promotion board process of competing for the top two enlisted ranks, senior and chief master sergeant. Promotion selection for these two ranks is a two-phased process consisting of weighted Airmen promotion system factors and a central evaluation board.

As I listened to the information provided, I thought, while the data was definitely value-added, the message could have been spread out to a younger audience. What kind of effect would it have if the "roadmap for success" was presented to our younger Airmen? During the board process, the evaluation board reviews all reports closing out up to 10 years prior to the promotion eligibility cutoff date. Does the average Airman working on the flightline, in the military personnel flight, at the main gate, or pulling boxes off the shelves in a warehouse know what a PECD is and how it relates to them? What caliber of future leaders will we grow and develop if we spread the word and "arm" them earlier in their careers?

While supervisors, NCOs, senior NCOs, officers and commanders at all levels play a vital role in the growth and development of Airmen, each Airman has an equal obligation to take an active role in their own careers. The responsibility to ensure that information contained on enlisted performance reports and personnel records is accurate rests with the member. All Airmen should know key dates, to include time in grade and time in service date requirements for promotion to the next higher grade. Additionally, Airmen should also be aware of their promotion test dates.

Two Airmen in my squadron recently lost track of their scheduled appointment test dates, and unfortunately, they will not be eligible to test this year. The message here, again, is for Airmen to take an active role in their careers.

Going back to the Top 3 meeting, as I listened to the message being sent, my thoughts went immediately to the impression it would make on our junior Airmen if they knew earlier in their careers what the expectations were to reach the top two enlisted ranks. By knowing attributes of the "whole-person" concept and proactively doing things like completing their career development courses and working toward a Community College of the Air Force degree early, they will reap dividends later. Also things like supporting base and community events and volunteering to participate in and lead committees such as the Unit Advisory Council will show involvement and leadership potential.

By starting early and taking an active role, our younger Airmen can help to manage and impact their careers for themselves. Leadership at all levels should encourage and share the secrets to success early on to put them in the best position to be successful in the future.