An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NEWS | Nov. 29, 2007

Making those career choices

By Master Sgt. Andy Dehnam 99th Airlift Squadron First Sergeant

Have you ever thought that your current job is not for you and want to try something new? Would you think that someone could actually be on their fifth AFSC? Well look no further, that person is me. 

When I entered the Air Force I started out as a security specialist back in the day when the current Security Forces career field was actually two separate career fields with the other being law enforcement. 

I was first interested in doing something different when a co-worker left for Lackland AFB to become a military training instructor and upon graduation from the MTI school returned to my base. I found out more about the job and decided it was something that I wanted to do as well. 

I was fortunate to have a supportive supervisor who, when I approached him about leaving the career field to become an MTI, supported me 100 percent. Six months later, I was off to Lackland to take on a demanding job that I would do for five years. When it was time to leave my MTI duties, and since I had been out of my first career field for several years, I was given the opportunity to retrain again. This time I chose the information management career field. 

I served in this position for about a year and a half, when our then-numbered air force commander asked me to be his enlisted aide when he moved to his new job as the MAJCOM vice commander. 

A lot of times it is about being in the right place at the right time as it was in this case. After three years of enlisted aide duty I was off to another duty station. 

When the commander of our joint command needed an enlisted aide, I was asked and I accepted the job. It was a whole new experience; not only was it a joint command but the commander was a Navy admiral. This presented many challenges. I had to learn the Navy way of life, terminology, customs and courtesies and uniform requirements. I served in this position for three and a half years before becoming an assistant to the command chief master sergeant, at the same base but in a different command. In this position I was mentored by many outstanding first sergeants and of course the command chief. It was at this point in my career that I decided that I wanted to do this job, too. The only thing that stood in my way was my rank. I needed to make master sergeant, so as any good NCO would do, I studied like never before. 

I went to the Education Office to enroll in my SNCO Correspondence Course 12, which is a requirement to apply for first sergeant duty. Once that was completed all I had to do was wait for my line number to come up so I could formally submit my application. Then I hit a bump in the road. 

Through my many career moves this was actually the first time I thought that I wasn't going to actually make the career move I wanted. I was selected for a remote assignment in the IM career field six months before I was to pin on master sergeant, and I had a great follow-on assignment to Europe, one that my family and I were excited about. During my remote assignment I had to make a decision whether to stay in the IM career field or apply for first sergeant duty. 

After some soul searching and discussion with my family, I decided to apply to become a first sergeant. As luck would have it, I received a follow on assignment to Europe, not to the original location but at least we were there. Many might ask, "have you ever regretted making so many career moves that probably have slowed your promotion progression?" The answer to that is a resounding NO! 

Before we had established core values I was living them, especially our first core value, "Service Before Self." I took on jobs that were hard to fill, MTI and enlisted aide, jobs that were and are filled with the best the Air Force can offer. 

Take the chance to do something new, go after those challenging hard-to-fill jobs, broaden your skills set and get the experiences that will make you great leaders.