Before becoming the successful resume writer I am today, there were challenges I could not have imagined, testing my tenacity and willingness to stay the course. At the time, my goal was simply to get a job with more opportunities and less hardships than driving a truck in Afghanistan while enduring the sweltering heat of summer, dealing with the choking dust and dirt of the Hundred Days of Wind similar to the notorious Santa Ana winds, and freezing in the dead of winter when I’d have to get out of the truck and work in snow and ice.
I share this now, offering a short account of how I went from, how shall I say, a lowly “honey truck driver” on the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) project, to someone whose insight, knowledge, and mentorship is now universally sought out by a diverse and eclectic audience including but not limited to, a plethora of high ranking U.S. military active duty and retired senior officers and non-commissioned officers, 3 letter government agency types, C-suite executives, academics, university professors – and more plumbers, electricians, carpenters and truck drivers than you can shake a stick at.
In January 2007 while still working as a truck driver at Bagram, Afghanistan I ordered the materials and began studying for the Microsoft Office Word Specialist examination in earnest, preparing to take the exam during an upcoming R&R planned for April. I would get up at early thirty and put in as much time studying as I possibly could before heading to work, and during any lag time throughout the shift, I would immerse myself in study and listen to audio lessons as I made my rounds, driving around in circles on base. I devoted myself and every spare moment I had to eat, breathe and sleep for the Microsoft exam which I determined once having passed, would give me a real opportunity at getting out of the truck and into an office environment, where, by my plan, I would have further opportunity to hone my skills, and further opportunity to advance my career path.
When I came back from R&R having passed the exam, I could not have been more elated to learn there was an internal job posting for an Administrative Associate position within the Water Truck Department on base, to which I immediately applied, was interviewed and extended a job offer for, and enthusiastically accepted. It was a perfect fit – a truck driver transferring into a truck-driving department as their very first Admin, where I wasted no time initiating Phase 2 of my career plan, which was to begin preparing for my next Microsoft Office Specialist certification – this time in Excel. It was perfect. It was more than perfect. While I worked, I also utilized the time to simultaneously study and apply my growing knowledge of Excel to the job, impressing the department supervisor and Chief of Services with charts and graphs detailing data in minute detail – but it didn’t take much time for me to realize that working as an Admin was not where I ultimately wanted to devote my time. I gave careful consideration to the job I would like to apply for next after satisfying the time in position requirement of 120 days, and I must admit that I began to consider what position on the project would take me as far away as humanly possible from truck driving, and the answer became abundantly clear – Human Resources.
I craved to spend my time in an intellectually stimulating environment, one in which I would have the opportunity to interact with like-minded people of diverse backgrounds, and it seemed to me HR was the logical choice. Little did I realize it at the time, but my first HR position would land me squarely in the middle of the customer service center devoted to KBR’s Theater Transportation Mission (TTM) department, the very same department where I originally began my Middle East truck-driving career in Kuwait and Iraq. How ironic.
I made my decision to go into HR despite lacking any actual real world experience, which was in my mind only a minor impediment to getting where I wanted to go. In the vernacular, it wasn’t nothin’ but a thang. I knew it would be incumbent upon me to somehow create my own experience, so I began to avail myself of networking and establishing professional relationships with HR personnel, unabashedly letting it be known that not only was I intellectually interested in obtaining a position within the HR department, but that I was backing my interest up with action and substance, aggressively and actively studying online with Cornell University working toward a certificate in Employee Relations (ER). I had done some research, and it turned out that ER was one of those positions at or near the very top of the LOGCAP corporate food chain – much like Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Counselor – a highly desirable position in which to be, as it was autonomy and independence I was ultimately in search of.
It was not long until I was invited by HR to serve as facilitator and team member for the Conflict Resolution and Harassment Awareness training sessions. It was within the context of these presentations, that it became apparent that to the same degree I displayed my interest in learning as much as I could about the dynamics and processes involved with HR, to that same degree I was extended the courtesy and reciprocity of being encouraged to spend time in conversation with those already in the field I endeavored to become a member of.
As planned, I finished the Cornell University course I was taking just before departing for my next R&R in November of 2007, and while on R&R passed the Microsoft Office Specialist exam for Excel as planned. As soon as I got off R&R and back to Bagram, I again started scouring internal job postings, this time for positions in HR, quickly submitting my application for three job requisitions, my resume proudly reflecting experience as an Admin along with the two Microsoft Office Specialist certifications and my Employee Relations certificate from Cornell University.
Of the three applications I submitted, I received three interviews and two offers – one for a position at Camp Phoenix in Kabul, Afghanistan and the other at Camp Anaconda, Iraq. I had heard of the relatively luxurious living conditions at Anaconda compared to the austere living conditions of Afghanistan, so with visions of sugar plums dancing in my head of having my own hooch, sharing a bathroom with only one other person in the connecting CHU (Containerized Housing Unit), as opposed to 500 other people – I happily accepted the job in Iraq. I arrived at Camp Anaconda on January the 9th, 2008 and got to witness a rare snow event with flakes the size of silver dollars falling from the sky in the predawn hours of January the 11th.
Transferring back to Iraq would mark the beginning of an amazing journey and learning experience eventually leading me back to Afghanistan for one more Hoo-yahh, my exit from the LOGCAP project, and onto Phase 3 – the meteoric rise of my first entrepreneurial project, LogCap4Jobs.com, affording me the independent, autonomous lifestyle I had been seeking. More next time.