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NEWS | Jan. 31, 2018

Command Career Counselors prepare Sailors

By Petty Officer First Class Christina S. Odom Navy Nuclear Propulsion Training Unit

The Navy Command Career Counselor is the critical link between an individual Sailor, his or her command and supporting Navy organizations. Their ultimate goal is to develop Sailors who are properly prepared for career milestones directly linked to advancement. The personal goal I set prior to arriving at every command is to earn the Retention Excellence Award. To win the annual award, Navy commands must demonstrate sustained superior performance in the retention of personnel. Requirements for this award include 100 percent submission for Career Waypoints with no failure to submit, a minimum score of 90 percent on the Command’s Annual Career Information Program review and a personnel attrition rate of five percent or less. These prerequisites illustrate to the Navy a Career Counselor’s ability to properly arm Sailors with the knowledge needed to flourish in their career as well as their dedication to building successful command programs. 

Prior to my arrival in July 2016, the Navy Nuclear Propulsion Training Unit Charleston Command Career Counselor job was vacant, making me the first, rated Navy Counselor in over 15 years.  As a counselor to nearly 2,000 Sailors at any given time, I’ve realized, “It’s all about giving back.” We have a lot of junior Sailors who come to NNPTU with little training on the career development tools available to them, including applications such as Career Information Management System, Career Management System-Interactive Detailing, Career Waypoint System and others advertised on the Navy Personnel Command website. I feel Sailors need someone to guide them through the available educational opportunities at least once in their careers because people tend to advance faster than they realize and are soon the senior leadership responsible for the careers of others. 

As a NC, the most rewarding part of my job is seeing a Sailor raise their right hand to reenlist in the world’s finest Navy. I take these experiences to heart as, at one point in my career, I was intending to leave the Navy.  As an undesignated Boatswain’s Mate onboard CVN 73 George Washington, I quickly realized the job of BM was not my ideal career path and began planning my transition out of the Navy.  As I sought advice from my superiors, I noticed they were not properly equipped with the tools to help me search for other options. I changed jobs from BM to Operations Specialist and I took on the job as Departmental Career Counselor, where I became interested in the NC rating. I found it to be my true calling and gives me the greatest job satisfaction.

In closing, if Navy leaders and Career Counselors do not routinely use all of the applications available to educate ourselves on career options, we will miss the opportunity to better prepare our Sailors for the many opportunities available to them.