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Planning futures, opening windows

By Lance Cpl. Joshua Pettway | | August 16, 2011

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Career planners open doors for Marines by coaching them on their career’s progression. Marines are competitive, that’s common knowledge. Improving is something service members do from the beginning of recruit training and are guided through by their seniors.

However, there are specific Marines whose goals are to ensure each of their fellow Marines receive proper career guidance. Career planners, or career retention specialists, exist to connect and inform the individual Marine on their potential career paths and options within, and even outside of, the Corps.

“We act as the conduit for Marines,” said Sgt. Marcus Penn, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 31 career planner. “It isn’t our job to make the choice for them, but to provide them with knowledge on what their options are and the steps they need to take to obtain their goals at that point in their life.”

Every Marine is trained by their chain of command from the moment they touch ground in their work place and are given guidance on how to apply what they learned. However, career planners offer knowledge that covers a broader spectrum of the Corps outside of their military occupational specialty.

“It doesn’t start with the career planner, it starts with the non-commissioned officer and staff non-commissioned officer within the chain of command giving the Marine their basic guidance on what the Marine Corps has to offer,” said Gunnery Sgt. Orion Murray, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron career planner. “Believe it or not, we are like a one-stop-shop because we educate Marines on the different opportunities that are out there, like special-duty assignments, or opportunities to reenlist or make a lateral movement into another field. That’s why we set up those interviews at different stages of their career.

“We don’t talk to first-term Marines initially, because they have to develop and discover their idea of the Corps as a whole and then discover the different opportunities out there.”

Marines are riflemen first and foremost, and then there is a need for them to show expertise in their MOS. Career planners consider the areas the Marine is proficient in and provide suggestions for their career progression.

Without knowledge on where they can take their career after reaching the end of their contract, many Marines might only complete one term.

“I think it would be terrible if there were no career planners,” said Sgt. Terry Santiago, the Air Station flight operations non-commissioned officer in charge. “I can’t count how many good Marines I’ve heard say ‘I’m getting out’ only to have a career planner talk them into staying. They are pivotal to the retention in our force and if they didn’t exist, many Marines might get out after their first enlistment.”

They also schedule necessary tests and interviews a Marine may need in addition to corresponding with the squadron sergeant major and commanding officer to ensure that retention goals are met.

Career planners are just as important as recruiters or the drill instructors who instill life lessons into recruits. Without who, many would not be here – keeping America’s emergency response force in the fight.

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