DETROIT (NNS) -- Throughout her life, Chief Navy Career Counselor Tiffany Colburn, a recruiter from Navy Recruiting District (NRD) Michigan, has found her way and made decisions by answering a simple question: How can she make a difference in others’ lives?
She initially answered this question when she was in high school, in Eugene, Oregon, by deciding to enlist in the U.S. Navy. Growing up, she never doubted she would end up a Sailor. Despite not having anyone close to her who was military, she felt a sense of responsibility to her country, and she pushed herself academically and graduated a semester early so she could head out to the world.
“I just felt like I owed it to my country to serve at least one term,” said Colburn. “I didn’t think I would stay in longer.” Twelve years later, she has no plans of leaving the Navy anytime soon.
Along with her desire to serve, she longed for the independence the Navy could give her. To her 18-year-old self, the prospect of being able to go out into the world and forge her own path without relying on anyone was exciting and motivating.
Initially, she joined as an Aviation Ordinanceman, and she went straight from boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois, to the rate’s “A” school in Pensacola, Florida.
Out of school, she headed to the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). She dove right in and completed a Western-Pacific deployment in 2008, earning her air warfare and surface warfare qualifications. She liked her job and cherished the adventure the shipboard lifestyle afforded her, but she wanted a hands-on way of helping other Sailors.
After advancing to second-class petty officer and transferring to USS Nimitz (CVN 68), she took on the role of departmental career counselor. “When I started career counseling on the Nimitz, I loved seeing the impact I was able to have in people’s lives,” Colburn said. This was the first major step toward her current career path, and, in August 2012, she accepted orders to recruiting duty and reported to Navy Orientation Recruiting Unit (NORU).
She started recruiting at NRD Portland and she said she immediately fell into the groove of her new position while becoming very satisfied with what she was able to accomplish in this field. “It is very personal here, you get to see directly what your job is doing,” said Colburn.” A lot of times on a ship you don’t get to see that impact.”
In 2014, Colburn was accepted into the career recruiting force (CRF) and was sent to school at the CRF academy in Pensacola, Florida. After completing school, she was sent to NRD Michigan where she was put in charge of Navy Recruiting Station Jackson.
Since entering the recruiting community, she’s also taken advantage of the stability a career in recruiting offers and started a family. Colburn attributes her desire to help those around her to her mother, Becky Janus, and to the close relationship she has always maintained with her family in Oregon. She strives to have a similar impact on her own children, spending most of her free time with them going to parks and the zoo, and doing anything she can to get outside and enjoy nature.
In September 2018, everything she had accomplished up to that point was validated as she was promoted to the rank of chief petty officer. As a Navy chief, she not only gets to affect the lives of new applicants, she gets to mentor and shape the new recruiters who come to her area from the Fleet.
“Sometimes people come into recruiting and they struggle initially,” said Colburn. “So I find what they are good at, and give them the self-confidence to be effective and feel like they have a purpose. Turning them into a successful recruiter is very rewarding.”
For Colburn, every day goes back to the question, “How can I make a difference in others’ lives?” Her answer has been through her service.
Navy Recruiting District Michigan encompasses approximately 76,032 square miles. The district boundaries cover predominately Michigan and Indiana and include areas of Northern Ohio. The command has one Headquarters in Detroit. The NRD is subdivided into nine divisions which include thirty-one enlisted Navy Recruiting Stations, three Navy Reserve Recruiting Stations, three Navy Officer Recruiting Stations and three Military Entrance Processing Stations.
The Navy’s recruiting force totals over 6,100 personnel in more than 1,000 recruiting stations around the globe. Their combined goal is to attract the highest quality candidates to assure the ongoing success of America’s Navy. NRC consists of a command headquarters, two Navy Recruiting Regions, 20 Navy Recruiting Districts and six Navy Talent Acquisition Groups that serve more than 1,000 recruiting stations across the country.
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For more news from Commander, Navy Recruiting Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnrc/.