Refinement + Evolution = Revolution!

Tag: writing

Am I over military retirement? (updated February 2022)

Am I over military retirement? I asked this question around April 2019, a year after. I said I thought I should be by now. As far as now, now, the answer is a resounding yes, and no.

What military retirement feels like: Grandma looking at the computer with a WTF face.

Just to be clear, I know that the proper term for active-duty military moving to the civilian workforce is ‘transitioning.’ Saying retirement implies that I no longer need to work. For a select group, that may be the case. The rest of us needed to continue working to take care of our families. I found out my wife was pregnant in July 2018, which meant the three months of sitting on my ass were over. Unfortunately, I had some trouble finding work then and now.

Was it because I was a veteran? Not according to the latest official numbers. Was it because of my age? Also, not according to current official stats. It’s been frustrating, to say the least. I suspected three things may have contributed to my transition woes at the year after mark.

  1. The well-intended but ill-conceived choice to change careers from manager to public relations/journalism/writing
  2. My foolish and detrimental aversion towards becoming a manager
  3. A misguided and ultimately self-defeating approach to seeking opportunities for employment

Much has changed three years later. But some attitudes have remained the same.

Military retirement woe #1: Writing Career

Military retirement = Slacking on writing - Drake meme
Image from Lindsay Lovin’ Life

Here’s what I wrote regarding the first item

Yup, I wanted to be a writer. It’s why I have this blog. But I wanted to make money from it. Oh, silly me.

Now, I’m not knocking it as a career. I’d love to have it as a career. And technically, it’s not off the table. But it is obscured from my view, tucked squarely behind my shelves of parental responsibilities, educational obligations, and reality checks.

Well, here I am at the three-year mark, and, wow, I’m back to being a writer, well-intended but ill-conceived choice be damned.

via GIPHY

The initial reason I resisted delving into writing stemmed from the starving artist trope. It was a concern I had some entries ago. Nevertheless, I’ve taken the plunge back to putting words on paper (or the internet) for money. It also has something to do with my aversion to having to tell people what to do.

Military retirement woe #2: Don’t talk to me. I’m not the manager.

Pictured above is why

Down below is what I wrote regarding being a manager.

As for the whole manager bit, well, it’s less of an aversion and more of a reluctance. I can do it. I just won’t if I don’t have to. Call it 10+ years as a glorified babysitter/secretary/punching bag. Like my’ retirement,’ I’m kinda over that, but I still get nightmares sometimes.

Do I feel this way still? Oh hell yes! Though I’m thankful for my service, it did leave a bad taste in my mouth when it came to any kind of leadership position. Although it did teach me how to lead, if given a choice, I’d pass. Then again, I’ve made questionable decisions that indicated otherwise.

Woe #3: Do you even wanna do this?

Let me tell you some decisions I regretted.

And how did I self-sabotage my job search? One, by turning to a modest but respectable student assistant job here in the local area because I wanted to be a writer instead (see above). And two, getting all dressed up and ready to go to some job fairs only to give in to fear, tuck tail, and run.

Although there was one that I did make that (might have) paid off.

I need to pay more attention to the total Vocational Rehabilitation (Voc Rehab) services the VA offers me because, if I had, I would have taken advantage of the VA Work-Study Program waaaaaay earlier. Under this program, I can do a Non-paid Work Experience initiative where participants (mostly other VA offices, but other government agencies) take eligible veterans in and provide them with training and practical job experience. I thought the ‘non-paid’ part meant free labor, which was for the employer. But you do get compensation from Voc Rehab, which is technically minimum wage, but it’s better than nothing. But, in my opinion, the best part isn’t the on-the-job training (although that is a huge part), but the network and connections that you develop within that office.

This path led me to intern for the U.S. Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region, State and Private Forestry Office. Indeed, I got paid a stipend through the VA for my “free labor” and built up a good amount of connections within the public sector. Plus, it might have paid off if it wasn’t for…

(Surprise) Woe #4: COVID

Manchester United’s Marouane Fellaini during the UEFA Super Cup final soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at Philip II Arena in Skopje, Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

The plan was to use my internship to build connections within the Forest Service and eventually land a job internally. I had my sights set on Public Affairs because, again, it went well with my dreams as a writer. In the beginning, I did pretty well.

My time working for the U.S. Forest Service, Region 5, Public Affairs Office with the legendary Stephen Dunsky
My time working for U.S. Forest Service Tahoe National Forest Public Affairs Office with the eponymous Joe Flannery

Three months later, a raging pandemic destroyed whatever progress I made.

Conclusion/Final thoughts

It’d be easy for me to blame extenuating circumstances beyond my control. But I could also point to my difficulties in making informed choices. Ultimately, I ended up where I am, three years later, wondering if leaving the military in 2018 was worth it.

The answer is yes, primarily because of past events and for the sake of my physical and mental health. However, I wish I had been more informed and prepared. Maybe if I were, I would be seeing my departure from the service as a worthwhile but necessary event rather than a questionably regretful one.

Nevertheless, I am where I am. As long as I keep my family as my main reason to trudge on, I believe I’ll thrive.

This is a Test (Take 2)

images from www.smallblueyonder.com

This is another test of the NextScripts Social Networks Auto Posting System.

If this had been an actual post, it would have been published within the desired parameters of the blogger. Due to his old age and limited knowledge of interwebs magic, he is currently having trouble with WordPress. It seems he is also so dense that he is unable to follow advice in the forums or guidance from YouTube. Therefore, he’s going to use the trial-and-error, shotgun method, also known as “spray and pray.”

Last time, he said something douchey like “you would have gotten a self-important recap of the week’s events, a pompous breakdown of military cultural elements, or an angsty, LiveJournal-esque soliloquy aimed to evoke sympathy but only provoke aggravation.” So far, he hasn’t been delivering on those things so, WTF?!!  Stop wasting time by going on what you say to your wife are “1-hour” hikes when they turn out to be “5-HOUR” hikes!  Therefore, you come back home every time with beat up feet and your angry better half on maniacal pregnancy hormones screaming your ear off about how you’re, well, beating up your feet.

Anywho . . .

Eventually, he hopes to get a grasp on his hiking addiction, so he can get back to blogging. (although most likely, he’s gonna go back to YouTube and watch more in-depth discussions of Westworld, like the one down below)

Hey!!  How about you conduct this test first THEN watch the video for the 1000th time?!

Besides, you have a concert to get to.

Repost of yesterday/this morning’s post

Due to technical difficulties (and by that I mean my old man knowledge of interwebbing) I wasn’t able to send a notification of my last post via Facebook and Linkedin.  Normally, I’d just write it off as a “d’oh!” but it’s something I really want to put out there for more eyes to read.  It’s an account of what I believe was a “micro-crisis” I had with this whole wanting to be a freelance writer thing.  If I were to summarize it in a GIPHY, it’d be something like this:

via GIPHY

click on the previous post below for more.  Thanks for all the love and support.

Mad Panic Monday aka What the Hell It’s Already Tuesday?!!

AAAAHHH!!!! (Image by Matt Groening of The Simpsons fame/knowyourmeme.com)

Ever since I’ve decided to go freelance, I’ve been stricken with fear wondering whether I’m doing the right thing, doing it at the right time, or going at it with the right intentions.  The reptilian brain in me is saying no no no no

via GIPHY

. . . and about 5 years ago, the highly un-confident, stricken with doubt me would have wholeheartedly agreed, dropped this precarious gamble and stuck to a stable but hum-drum life.  Now, I’m only slightly un-confident, burdened with skepticism, and trying to rationalize what could well be a significantly life-changing move on my part.  I just recently went through another significantly live changing event which I can sum up with this expression . . .

Cool. What do I do now? Hope I don’t ask the same question in about 3 months or so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After I retired, or rather, towards the last days of my impending retirement, I intended on trying to get into an internship because I thought that would be a decent way of easing myself into the civilian workforce. However, I went about it in the most buckshot fashion I could think of. I applied to…

1. Capital Public Radio

2. Entercom

3. TEGNA

4. ABC

5. CBS

They were all jobs that fit with what I thought I wanted to do, to work in Public Radio (NPR, APM and their local affiliates) and network TV. (less on the reality shows and more on the newsroom) .  I should have stopped there, but instead I went full death blossom. (for all of you that don’t know what I mean by “death blossom…)

via GIPHY#death #blossom

So I also sent applications to…

6. Anheuser Bush – because brewery tour guide sounded really cool, except when you take their stupid timed survey and get blackballed if you don’t complete it in time . . . dicks.

7. Johnson & Johnson – not just a pharmaceutical company, but also a corporation with goals to guide and develop the leaders of tomorrow.  I apparently was not part of that goal.

8. Aramark – does anybody outside of the military know these guys?  I did, and I thought my being a veteran was a shoe-in.  Boy was I wrong.

9. Visit California – to my California residents, remember their commercials that featured Arnold Schwarzenegger when he was governor at the time,


      1. Yeah these guys. I wanted to work for these guys. #whatthehellwasithinking.

10. CDW – an IT company I had no reason to be interested in, except I was despera . . . I mean determined.

11. The State Compensation Insurance Fund or SCIF, a quasi-nonprofit insurance firm where I neeeeeever would have thought to work for, but when times are tough I supposed.

All these places were offering internships and student assistant jobs in public relations, marketing and sales, which all involved customer service – something I vowed never to get back into…EVER!

NOTE #1:  Now I’m not saying it’s beneath me.  It’s not.  I give props to anybody and everybody who has the tenacity to attract customers and close sales.  It’s just not my thing is all.

via GIPHY #reallythough #onthereals

 

And because I was so desper . . . I mean eager, I sent resumes and cover letters to…

12. UC Davis

13. Sacramento State University

14.  Los Rios Community College

15.  Solano Community College

Because I really wanted to embrace my past narrative of “supporting educational institutions who educate and inform our communities,” as an administrative assistant, which basically code for secretary!

NOTE #2:  Again, I do not mean to disparage or demean this line of work.  Admin is more than filing papers, taking phone calls, making coffee and picking up the boss’ dry cleaning, as is stereotyped in movies and television.  Again, it’s not my cup of tea ok?

via GIPHY

However, after I had done so much grunt work on the job search front that I discovered a flaw in my approach.  But first some context.

I attended what was called the Senior Executive Workforce Transition Workshop, a 3 day course that helped prepare high-ranking, executive level personnel to continue their career outside of the military, or at least that how it was advertised.  There, I thought I learned innovate ways of finding, applying, and securing jobs, or at least I seemed like it to someone who hasn’t had to find, apply and interview for a job in 20+ years.  I was really entranced by how this workshop touted this “under-utilized” website that guides you step-by-step on how to write great cover letters and resumes.  And sure enough, I paid the subscription fee, used it to churn out a “variety” of cover letters and resumes and sent them to all the organizations I just mentioned.

Out of the 20 cover letters and resumes I sent, I got 3 calls for a phone interview.  Out of those 3 interviews, I got one offer, from my last preferred employer, the SCIF.  Was I really that desperate (yes, desperate) enough to take the job?  If I did, I’d be working there now and probably be blogging about how this is too much like my old job, except without the uniform, the breakneck ops tempo and the looooong hours.

Then I saw an eye-opening, Linkedin endorsed video of a recruitment coach by the name of J.T. O’Donnell who had newer and better career searching concepts in Work It Daily.  It was there that I found out . . .

  1. My shotgun method of “applying” for jobs sucked
  2. My methods of writing cover letters and resumes sucked
  3. The website I used to write those resumes and cover letters didn’t necessarily suck, but the way I used it did

Basically, I thought I was clever by cutting and pasting the website‘s canned statements to write my professional summary, work experience, and additional information.  I thought that was what tailoring meant and I could do that for any job.  I thought wrong.

So, here I am now blogging about how I screwed up my whole job finding process and didn’t course correct until it was too late.

But was it too late?  Technically it isn’t.  I can still resume my job hunt using the lessons I learned from Work It Daily.  But it was around the time I got the rejection from CAP Radio (for a Marketing internship no less) and the SCIF job offer I turned down that I went into introspection mode, questioning whether I wanted to go back to the 9 to 5 again.  My rational brain scoffed and said. “What are you crazy?  Yeah!  It’s a stable job with a stable paycheck that can greatly supplement your current pension.  Why wouldn’t you go back to tried and true?”  Then I remembered Ms. O’Donnell’s tips on choosing the right career…

She basically asked, “What type of a role is work going to play in your life story?”  Did I want it to play a supporting role, the lead role, or the whole movie? (start the video at 1:03 if you want to know what I’m talking about) I thought about it, and I categorized all my past and possible future roles like this:

Job Secretary (lol) Brewery Tour Guide Sales Rep Marketing Rep
Career Aircraft Mechanic Cryptologic Linguist Management Consultant
Calling Writer

Then it hit me.  The voice in my head that that sang my love for stories and writing never stopped.  The volume’s been turned down for quite a while, but it was always in the background whispering…hypnotizing…enticing…

via GIPHY

 

Or maybe that’s just delusion guiding me to ruin.  Whatever the case, I was convinced to pursue my calling as a writer.  And to complicate things even more, I’ve decided to become a freelancer writer!

Yey!

Time will tell if this is another phase, (because this isn’t the first time this happened, a story to be told at a later time) but I really don’t want it to be.  I’m aware of the uncertainty and risks associated with this calling, or at least I think I am.  I suppose all I can do is stay frosty and continue along this path, and rebrand myself as the eponymous Sugar Freelancer!!

via GIPHY

 

P.S. It is not lost on me that freelancing also requires skills in public relations, marketing and sales, all of which involve customer service, as well as organization communication and *sigh* customer relations, all of which involve administrative work.

via GIPHY

Real supportive Mr. The Most Interesting Man in the World.

 

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