Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Congratulations! Now What?

A few weeks ago I came across a great post full of the kinds of advice I could have used way long ago when I was a brand new Air Force Lieutenant off to my first real assignment in Japan. The lingo might seem AF-centric but keep reading (for my civilian readers, a sponsor is someone assigned to welcome you and help you get settled in your new job/community).  Stephanie graciously agreed to let me repost it, because really it would be so helpful for anyone starting a new adventure.  Stephanie has a great new blog you should check out, Wilson Wonders.  Enjoy!

Greetings to all new Lts or first time movers...I wrote this for some people and decided to share (it is a bit long)...hope it helps:
When your sponsor sucks:
I hope that no one is greeted by his or her squadron poorly – but as a realist, I know it happens. I had a great person as my first sponsor (as we became good friends later) but she was a sucky sponsor.
My intro went something like:
1. I was left alone in a hotel in MT (yes – Montana)…knowing no one…not even told what uniform combo to wear the first day or where the office was.
2. I was getting paid as a SrA instead of a 2Lt for my first 5 months – without knowing what to do to get assistance
3. My household goods never made it to my base due to line change in who was responsible for moving it – so no one moved it and it sat in storage for 3 months at my home of record…
I could go on – but let’s just say I speak from experience of a sucky transition!
So first – welcome to our Air Force. It is awesome and amazing and it is also busy and sometimes frustrating – and that is okay.
As someone new to the Air Force – moving in and finding your way is a milestone event and here are some tips I have found (and heard of) for helping make this first move successful.
1. Do you have a sponsor? If so – reach out and bug them. Bother them with questions and make them do their job. Sometimes people truly get busy and mean well, but let the “fog of war (emails)” distract them from this additional duty. Make them stop and pay attention to you and learn what you need. Be your own best advocate.
2. Where do I put my couch? The home search is so unique and individual that you truly need to see what you need and can afford – but there are a variety of sites that can help you. Call the base housing office and they can help you with on base housing and off base housing information. Military by Owner is a good resource as well. I found my first place by whining at clothing sales about how I could not find a location to live – and the checkout lady referred me to her old landlord and he (and the apartment) were fantastic! I found my newest home online/with a friend checking out the neighborhood…and selected sight unseen (eeeek!) but at 14 years in—I had a better idea of what I wanted and did not want in a location. 
3. How do I fit in? As you arrive, take the lay of the land. Do not let anyone’s preconceived opinions dictate yours. Observe the unit the way it observes you and make sure you meet with your direct supervisor, your commander, AND the senior enlisted member who will be your partner in the success/failure of your branch/flight/etc. Stalk the webpage of the base and see what they post as news, what inspections they have completed – or are advertising are coming and (if married) – link you or your spouse to the spouses page so they have a network as well. Spouse/kid transition is an entire post in itself….
4. How do I get paid? Please check your pay and make sure you are getting paid correctly. If you are not –see the First Sgt. they can help you - they work for all Airman not just enlisted and want to help you be successful. Your commander can help in a big way with this as not take a loan on pay you are owed ( my opinion…but hey this whole thing is my opinion!). Make sure the right taxes are being taken out for your state of residence and if you are owed or owe something - make sure that is annotated correctly as well.
5. How do I make a good first Impression? Have your uniform squared away…haircuts and hair do…now is not the time to try that new “thing”…lol. Be you and show what you bring to the fight. Be willing to listen…be willing to listen….be willing to listen and then decided and do. You are not supposed to know everything and you will exhaust yourself if you try to know everything at once. You will become an expert at knowing who to go to, knowing what should be in your head, and knowing what books to reference – it will be fine.
6. Who loves you? Call your parents (or whomever raised you). Let them hear your voice and tell them about this career you have embarked on. You are the service’s biggest recruiter – your friends and family who see you on this journey will remember it as well. They also want to see you succeed.
7. How do I find my niche? Get involved in the community!! I joined my sorority via the Alumnae Chapter…so for the 4 years prior to that, I just worked in the community at large because I wanted to learn where I lived and I like to volunteer. If you have a passion, find the organization that supports it. If there isn’t one, start it. Go out and see the place you reside that may be totally different ( or very similar) to the one you lived in as you grew up. Different is not bad…its just different. Buy the right gear for where you live and press on…you have to create great stories to have great stories to tell later – and those don’t happen staying in your house and not opening your circle of friends.
8. What now?? Have fun. This is the beginning of a career. Whether 5 years, 20 years or 30…enjoy it. You will not only survive but thrive through the ‘turbulant’ move times and be a better leader because of it. Be a better sponsor than what you had…even if yours was great…and help introduce others to our force in a great way!

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