This post deserves a slight header. I know it is long, but I really appreciate those that will take the time to read through this. Any thoughts/comments/concerns would be greatly appreciated.
Just over a year ago I was at the engineering career fair when I introduced myself to Paul, a recruiter for the United States Navy. I have always had an interest in the mysteries of life. Watching some magician on TV, or seeing some folders in a movie marked ‘CLASSIFIED’ has always instilled a sense of wonder, excitement, curiosity, and interest in me. To see what opportunities there were, I talked to Paul.
Paul introduced me to the Baccalaureate Degree Completion Program (BDCP). This program signs college undergrad students, like myself, up to become naval officers in the field of choice after graduation. Basically here is how the process would work. I fill out an application. I get accepted. I finish my undergrad making a salary of just under $3,000 per month. I go to Pensacola, Florida to attend Officer Candidacy School (OCS) where I would go through boot camp along with being trained for my position of choice. After that, depending on my position of choice, I would go to more schooling or start my new job. There is a minimum of 4-year commitment to the Navy. The approximate starting salary (not yet verified) is $50,000 per year, some of which is not taxable.
I have been considering three fields. Information Warfare (IW), Intelligence, or Naval Flight Officer (NFO). Let me give a brief summary of each.
**::Information Warfare::** Information warfare is the new name for cryptology. These guys are the computer experts who intercept information and use it to their advantage. Other tasks are items such as propaganda. IW uses information to their benefit to keep steps ahead of everyone else. IW officers tend to be more land based in comparison to other departments and have shorter deployments. [Click here for more info...](http://www.navy.com/careers/officer/informationwarfare/)
**::Intelligence::** Intelligence is a lot like IW except more people oriented. When you watch a movie and see all the Lieutenants being briefed in a room with an old slide show and projector, the person doing the briefing is a person in the intelligence department. Intelligence people are everywhere. Many are based on land and sea. [Click here for more info...](http://www.navy.com/careers/officer/intelligence/)
**::Naval Flight Officer::** The first thing I tell people when they ask me about what an NFO does, is ask the question, you know Goose from [Top Gun](http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0092099/)? He was an NFO. Basically an NFO is the quarterback of the flight crew. While the pilot is busy piloting the plane, the NFO is there to work with navigation, communication, cameras, weapons, and many other things. An NFO goes through a lot of schooling after OCS to be trained and is based at sea quite a bit. [ Click here for more info...](http://www.navy.com/careers/officer/aviation/)
My main interest is in Information Warfare. This is basically my dream job that I have thought would be so amazing to have for quite some time. It also works to my benefit that as an IW officer, it appears that field seems to have the least ‘deployment’ as much work is done right in Washington DC. I also have a strong interest to be an NFO. I love to fly (period). I can’t think of anything much more exciting or adrenaline pumping than to be in an F/A 18 doing acrobatics and hunting submarines. This being said, it is by far the most dangerous.
I have talked to my recruiter, Paul, about many things, and he has answered all of my questions. Now I just have to figure out, do I want this commitment?
Let me tell you why I want it…
I love the excitement of something new. I am a person (as I have talked about so many times before on this blog) that gets bored with the same old routine. Being in the Navy promises this excitement. Being in the Navy also promises something to be proud of. Just the thought of being a Naval Officer is very ‘cool’ indeed. I would be able to serve my country, and in doing so also serve my family and friends. I would make myself proud, and hopefully make my family and friends proud as well. There is honor to be had. To be able to use my intelligence in this way would definitely be a good thing. Also worth mentioning is the finances as well. I am doing my best not to make this a huge deciding factor, but the Navy does take care of its officers. As I stated before, while in school I would bring in just under $3,000 (just under half of which is non-taxable). Once out of school as an IW officer, (also as stated before) the approximate starting salary (not yet verified) is $50,000 per year. This is right (if not slightly above) the starting salary for other companies that would higher a computer science student, such as Kroger.
Let me tell you why I am hesitant about it…
How can I guarantee what I’ll be doing or thinking in 2.5 years when I graduate? Just 2.5 years ago I was a music major. What will be going on in my life then? Will I have a serious girlfriend that I’ll be thinking about marrying? Will I have a job offer from some ‘super-cool’ co-op company? Basically all the things that make me hesitant are the unknowns.
You know how sometimes you really want to do something, but something is telling you that you shouldn’t, but you just try and block that voice out? Well this isn’t one of those times. Nothing about this offer seems or feels bad/wrong. In all honesty, I really want to do this. As stated before, it would be something to be very proud of, and it is an amazingly sweet job!
So here’s where I am right now…
I have an almost complete application that I need to turn in. This application would go under review after I get clearance to their website and take a test. All these materials would be considered for my acceptance to the program. If accepted, I am sent a letter of congratulations and asked to check yes or no. If I check yes, I am in the Navy. If I check no, I am no different than I am right now. One thing to consider is, if my grades fall below a 2.5/4.0 or I want to withdraw from the BDCP, I would serve minimum two years in enlisted status (not something I want to do). There is no commitment when turning in the application. The commitment only applies when/if I am accepted and I agree to join.
I really appreciate all of you who read this, and appreciate even more those that have listened, given advice, or left comments. I really think this could be a very positive decision in my life if I decide to commit. I ask for your thoughts and more importantly your prayers as I go through this difficult process and decision making time.