A hand in fate
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- A man who spend the majority of his Air Force career silently tinkering with specialized equipment, interacting with a shop with less than a dozen people, now finds himself working hand-in-hand with Airmen. What was once wires and circuits has been replaced with the complexities of the human brain.
Master Sgt. Nicholas Scott, the 374th Forces Support Squadron career assistance advisor, now spends his days connecting the personalities and interest of Airmen with a career field that he hopes leads to a lifetime of happiness.
Scott, who joined the Air Force as a ground radio communications technician, after six years at Hurlburt Field Air Force Base, Florida, retrained into computer systems control (which in 2009, would merged with other communication jobs, including computer maintenance, telephone systems and intrusion detection systems to create cyber transport).
“For us back then, the majority of the time, ground radio technicians worked on the radios that the air traffic control towers used to communicate with the aircraft,” Scott recalled. “When they weren’t working on those, they were working on setting up for public address events to include things like change of commands or other official functions. However, being stationed at a tactical communications flight, I was lucky enough that I got to enjoy duties that weren’t typical of a ground radio Airman stationed anywhere else. With that, I knew that there was a good chance that once I left Hulburt Field, my duties would no longer aligned with my own interest.”
Looking to take control over his own career, Scott met with the military personnel flight and spoke with the career development section about how he could retrain into computer systems control. In addition to providing Scott with the retraining advisory, the MPF directed him toward his own communications squadron to speak with Airmen that were already doing computer systems control.
“Taking those steps is what kept me in the Air Force,” Scott said with a cheerful smile. “I had a good team of supervisors in my work center that encouraged me to stay in and show me that there were other options outside of simply accepting my fate.”
Scott has served in a variety of communications assignments throughout the Air Force including Hurlburt, Langley, Osan, Tinker and Yokota. Earlier this year, he received the assignment as the 374th Forces Support Squadron career assistance advisor.
In the past, any qualified Airman who met eligibility criteria defined in the special duty catalog could apply for a special duty opportunity. However, as resources become scarcer, Air Force leaders felt it important to deliberately place the most qualified Airmen in several key roles which have an impact on Airmen across the service, including military training instructor, military training leader, first sergeant and career assistance advisor.
“My leadership, knowing my professional goals and the things I gravitated towards—namely, helping people—saw career assistance advising as a good opportunity for myself while giving the Air Force the best bang for their buck,” Scott said.
Scott, whose office sits on sits of first floor of Yokota’s Professional Development Center, is now in the position to guide others that may be unsure how to approach the rest of their Air Force career. As the career assistance advisor, Scott presents retraining opportunities, organizes professional enhancement seminars and provides informed decision briefings, which help Airmen realize the benefits of continuing service to the military versus joining the civilian sector.
“It may be cliché, but I was told that if you find what you love to do that you’ll never work a day in your life; I agree with that wholeheartedly,” Scott said. “If you love what you do, you’ll want to continue to do that. Enjoying your job coupled with the feeling of contributing to something bigger than yourself can leave anyone with a sense of fulfillment.”
Unfortunately, according to Scott, Airmen are sometimes placed into jobs they’re not suited for. Many times, these same Airmen end up separating because they feel as though they’re in a dead-end situation.
When Airmen feel stuck in their current job and confide in Scott for assistance, the career assistance advisor goes through a series of steps to help the Airmen reach a solution.
“I first ask the Airman if they’ve gone onto myPers (the Air Force’s online personnel services website),” Scott said. “Each fiscal year, the Air Force releases the online retraining advisory which list the objectives for jobs that they need Airmen to train in and out of. Based on that, I would sit down and ask the Airmen what they’re interested in. Based on their interest, we would narrow down the list of potential jobs and see if their qualified, including ASVAB and physical fitness scores.”
Similar to Scott’s previous job as a cyber transport technician, there is a large pool of information he must be familiar with. However, instead of technical orders and equipment knowledge, it’s retraining prerequisites, program requirements and many other specifics that change on a day-to-day or monthly basis. Scott said he is there for any Airmen who wants to smoothly navigate their way through the information. He offers his mentorship and knowledge to those Airmen.
“I’ve had lots of mentors throughout my career,” Scott said “Even now, I have people whom I can pick their brain and learn from each day. No one person knows everything. There’s always going to be someone who has done something you’ve never done and can shed some light on your situation. Many times, it’s easy to see potential in someone else and a lot harder to see it in yourself. Having someone you can go to show you what you’re capable of is essential.”
If Scott’s Air Force career is any indication, it’s never too early or too late to take charge of your own career. Simply hoping for things to get better is not a viable option. Rather, by taking the reins and utilizing the many resources available to you, including Yokota’s own career assistance advisor, you can be a happier person at the end of each work day while also meeting the needs of the Air Force.