NORFOLK (NNS) -- Today's Sailors have a valuable resource that can help them plan their careers, take advantage of new information, and take courses that will not only help their military careers, but will also help them outside of the military.
This resource is Navy Knowledge Online (NKO). From its Web site, www.nko.navy.mil, Sailors, Marines, Department of the Navy civilians and retirees have access to a centralized point for all kinds of information.
Chief Personnelman Joseph Gomez, manpower analyst and staff career counselor for Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, is a Sailor whose job is evolving with the introduction of NKO.
"The purpose of Navy Knowledge Online is to connect Sailors with the information, expertise and learning opportunities required to support their professional and personal development," he said. "It also allows Sailors to ask peers, mentors and subject matter experts around the world questions that can enhance their careers. It allows them to track their progress toward attaining the next higher pay grade, and NKO provides links to helpful Web sites to track personal issues such as pay, advancement, college information, health, Veteran's Administration benefits, etc."
Prior to NKO, Sailors and Marines could spend hours searching for information regarding different aspects of career management. Although NKO is a new development by the Department of the Navy and will require some getting used to, it is much easier to obtain information from one Web site rather than trying to remember multiple Web addresses.
"NKO is going to basically be a portal for Sailors and Marines to know what's needed to better themselves in their jobs, as well as show them where they stand as far as career development," Gomez said. "Most importantly, it's still in a developmental stage. Don't get discouraged if you can't get the information you want quickly. Take time to browse, and if you feel that there's room for improvement, use the NKO feedback option in the NKO Services section of the Web site."
Prior to NKO, Sailors and Marines used to have to talk to a command career counselor or go to an administration activity in order to learn about developing their careers. This often proved very challenging, as these Sailors and Marines would have to learn the language of administrators before they could understand how to develop their careers.
"In the past, we relied heavily on our senior enlisted to provide the necessary information required to enhance our jobs/careers (advancement, personnel qualification standards, on the job training, etc)," said Gomez. "Many individuals didn't know how or were afraid to ask those questions concerning their careers. NKO provides another tool for the individual to use. The goal is for NKO to be the individual's primary source of information and career development."
One of the benefits NKO provides is the availability of personalized information. With the development of the Five-Vector Model (5VM), designed to help Sailors manage their careers, Sailors have the rare opportunity to find out how to achieve career goals and create manageable steps toward their goals.
"NKO will allow Sailors to access a database full of useful information at any time of the day," said Gomez. "Additionally, there's a link available to an Advancement Exam Strategy Guide where they can take a practice test to help them prepare for their next exam. They will also be able to look up schools they would like to attend, sign up for some correspondence courses, learn more about uniform regulations, leadership, mentoring. You name it, it's at their fingertips."
NKO will also give career counselors easier access to different types of information, so they can provide better service to their shipmates.
"Career counselors assist people with making career decisions. Many times, they don't know all the specifics with the individual jobs to help that individual make the best decision as far as where to go next, what secondary schools should they ask for or which command would be the best means of enhancing their professional development. NKO will help the individual, as well as the counselor, by making more information available to career counselors to help in the decision-making process," said Gomez.
The development of NKO is a direct result of Sea Power 21, a program sponsored by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark and designed to streamline the Navy as it progresses into the 21st century.
"Sea Power 21 asks for the individual that reports on board to their new command to already have the skills and knowledge to perform their duties. NKO will be the foundation used to help Sea Power 21 put that Sailor with certain skills and gained knowledge into the job that best suits the Navy's needs," Gomez said.
Ultimately, NKO is a tool that can help everyone in the Department of the Navy. Through NKO, Sailors, Marines and Department of the Navy civilians will be able to take courses designed by leaders in the field of education, map out their careers and network with other people in their fields.
"Everyone will realize the benefits of NKO once they log on and use NKO on a regular basis," Gomez explained. "No one knows everything that's required of them, nor do they always know the next level to better enhance their careers. NKO will make the decision-making process that much easier, as well as answer those questions that many forget to ask themselves. 'What's best for my career?' 'What's best for the Navy?' 'Where should I go next to enhance my abilities for transition to the civilian sector?' NKO will be able to assist in answering these questions."
NKO is the latest development the Navy has created to help its people develop professionally through Web-based career planning and education. Sailors and Marines who take advantage of the resources available on NKO will not only acquire the tools to succeed in the military, but they will also be acquiring skills that can prepare them for life after the military.
For more news from around the fleet, visit the Navy NewsStand at www.news.navy.mil.