A Coast Guard reservist understood the need to continue his education and further his career.
Making the decision to go back to school can be daunting. While the military gives service members experience, most people need additional education to help them obtain their long-term career goals.
University of Phoenix Houston Campus Director and U.S. Coast Guard Reservist Lt. Mikal Powers understands first-hand the value of education in both the military and civilian workforces. In his civilian role, Powers is responsible for managing campus services, academic affairs and operations at the University of Phoenix Houston Campus. In the reserves, Powers is a Division Officer in the Incident Management Division where he works on a team that is responsible for monitoring more than 500 miles of waterways around the Port of Houston, one of the busiest ports in the world, the Houston Ship Channel (HSC), two national strategic petroleum reserves and the largest petrochemical complex in the country.
Throughout his military career, Powers has always understood the value of education. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1999 as an E-3. Throughout his naval career, he has worked as a Combat Search and Rescue Aircrewman, Rescue Swimmer and Anti-Submarine Warfare Systems Operator. Powers deployed twice in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operations Iraqi Freedom and was awarded an Air Medal for missions in support of combat operations.
In January 2004, Powers decided to obtain his bachelor’s degree to become an officer in the U.S. Navy. He enrolled at University of Phoenix because the University’s learning model allowed him to continue his military responsibilities while earning his degree. University of Phoenix was also able to apply some of Powers’ military training as credits towards earning his degree, which allowed him to finish his bachelor’s degree in three years.
While earning his degree, Powers developed a passion for higher education. Therefore, in August 2004, Powers decided to work full-time for University of Phoenix. He has since led teams for the San Diego, Dallas and McAllen Campuses. To also satisfy his desire to serve his country, Powers became a reservist in the U.S. Coast Guard.
For reservists who currently hold both military and civilian jobs, Powers offers the following tips to apply their military skills and training back to their civilian jobs.
1. Find a common denominator. Military and civilian jobs are both measured in manpower, materiel and money. Reservists can compare the manpower needed to complete a military mission to the HR need of his or her civilian employer to complete a task or project. Both civilian and military jobs require specific resources – or materiel – to complete a mission or specific task or project. Of course, the resources may be a bit different – a military job may require a helicopter or air support to complete. Lastly, both civilian and military employers provide employees a budget to adhere to when executing a task
2. Strengthen your leadership skills. As a reservist promotes through the military, his or her leadership skills are enhanced due to experience and additional military schooling and training. These skills can simultaneously be used in their civilian job environment to motivate their subordinates to perform.
3. Research your education and career options. Familiarize yourself with the education requirements needed to obtain your career goals. The University of Phoenix Career Guidance SystemTM can help reservists research a degree program based on their interests, skills and experience, and provides insight on local job market trends and industry demands. Also, the Military Skills Translator Tool takes a reservist’s military occupational specialty (MOS) code and suggests a list of related civilian occupations. For more information visit www.phoenix.edu/careergps.
4. Speak the language. Communicate military experience and training to employers with words, not acronyms, which may not translate to corporate America. Promote and demonstrate skills learned in the military such as leadership, communication management, teamwork and strategic thinking, to your civilian coworkers.
5. Find a way to continue to serve. Military service provides a unique sense of camaraderie, so find ways to continue to serve. Reservists can stay connected by getting involved with local veterans groups and other military non-profit organizations.
Education is an important asset to both military and civilian employees. Through his experiences as a reservist, Powers has been able to leverage his skills to strengthen the environments in which he works.