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Your Career

One Sailor's Experience with Career Intermission - Part 1

From Sailor to civilian and back

Anyone close to me would say I am someone who absolutely loves the Navy. A lot of my friends actually tease me about being a lifer, so it often comes as a surprise when I tell them I'm preparing to separate. My reason for separating is uncommon; I'm doing it in hopes of making a career out of the Navy.

Career Intermission Blog Part 1 graphic.

Career Intermission Blog Part 1 graphic.

I've been accepted in the Navy's Career Intermission Program. It's a way for Sailors to take a break from the Navy to pursue other interests. Although I had heard of the program, it wasn't until I met a Sailor who had successfully participated in the program, that I actually considered it a viable option. That Sailor had left the Navy to attend law school and then returned to the Navy as an officer in the JAG Corps.

Now let me give you some background here.

I initially joined the Navy to get a college education. I went straight to sea for my first duty station and only got a couple of college courses completed toward my degree. I went to shore duty and still wasn't as diligent as I'd planned to be. I'd even failed an online course I was enrolled in because I was TAD during the final exam. Plus I didn't feel engaged in the whole online college thing. I wanted to really take the time to focus on my education. I wanted to sit in a class, listen to a lecture and have meaningful discussions about the things I was learning. I know a lot of people complete degrees on active duty but I didn't feel like I was focused enough.

That was the driving force behind me pursuing an intermission. After I have my bachelor's, I'll be ready to apply for OCS and return to the Navy as a public affairs officer.

So with the overarching plan in place, my mission now is to prepare for separation. Initially, I thought the process would be streamlined for me, since I would be coming back to the Navy eventually. I couldn't have been more wrong.

I'm required to complete all of the same objectives every other separating service member completes because it's governed by a law. Transition GPS, separation physical and a DD-214 are all part of the package. With the intermission, I'm also entitled to a PCS move. Anyone who's ever gotten out of the Navy can agree with how stressful the process is - sprinkle in registering for school, trying to sell a house, getting engaged and life happening. I feel like my head may explode.

As excited as I am, the stress of the unknown can be paralyzing. I need to figure out if I need to have a job, how much money I need to earn and what types of jobs I'm already qualified to do that will also develop skills that make a good naval officer. I have to figure out what type of life insurance I'll have or if I'll have any at all because the S in SGLI stands for service members, not separated service members. I'm going to need to figure out who my new primary care provider is and where to go receive care. I'm moving to South Florida so there aren't too many military treatment facilities nearby.

Navigating this juncture in my career is probably the most difficult thing I've done in the Navy. I feel like I have so much to do and few resources to help. My local PSD only has so many answers. I can't help but look forward to being in a class room learning with all of these solved riddles behind me.

The uncertainty of my future in the fleet also distracts me from time to time. I'm not guaranteed acceptance into OCS upon my return to active duty so I'll be negotiating for orders when I come back. I like to think I'll be completely recharged and ready to jump on the first ship that will take me, but what if I'm the one who must meet the "needs of the Navy"? What about the first long underway where my wife and I are separated? What's going to happen if I do everything I can to stand out as a rock star petty officer, and I'm underscored by a Sailor who didn't take a break? What if I never get picked up for OCS? These barriers are obviously not part of my master plan but in my mind, they're just as likely to happen as my ideal sequence of events. I've decided that my realistic expectations are as important as visualizing my success. I have an idea of potential barriers to my success and I plan to mitigate them with good old fashion hard work. I will maintain control over what I can and hand the rest over to the universe. Come what may, I'm extremely excited about the next chapter in my Navy life.

This is part 1 of an ongoing blog MC2 will continue throughout her journey.

Learn more about the Career Intermission Program and read the story of one of the first Sailors to participate in the pilot program.