New BTZ course assists in fast-track promotion
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Sitting at attention, back straight with hands in lap, Airmen at Misawa Air Base participated in the first mock senior airman below-the-zone promotion board here, Dec. 15.
The mock board was part of the Professional Development Center's new "BTZ 101" course designed to assist airmen first class on gaining the fast-track to senior airman.
Those promoted via BTZ must prove their worth by standing out amongst their peers by demonstrating leadership, stellar job performance and significant self-improvement among other areas. Airmen selected for BTZ are promoted six months earlier than expected. The standard promotion timeframe to senior airman is 36 months time-in-service and 20 months time-in-grade or 28 months TIG, whichever comes first.
The first of its kind here, the course aimed at teaching the 30 attendees about BTZ eligibility requirements, uniform wear, the process for filling out their nomination for award, qualities that may make them stand out, board preparation and what to expect after making or not making BTZ.
"The objective of this course is to set Airmen within their BTZ window up for success," said Master Sgt. Daniel A. Robinson, 35th Force Support Squadron career assistance advisor.
Only those who were due to meet an official BTZ board this quarter met with the mock board led by five senior noncommissioned officers from across the wing.
Master Sgt. Shavahn Erby, 35th Aerospace Medicine Squadron optometry clinic flight chief, said the experience of volunteering to help future leaders excel in all areas of their life, whether personal or professional, was a wonderful and truly enjoyable experience.
"It is important for them to be able to have this experience to help them propel into the next level of their Air Force career," said Erby. "They took notes and asked questions during their feedback time and really showed interest in the tools that we were giving them. They saw that, even though we did not know them personally, we genuinely care about their success."
For Robinson, it is all about providing mentorship, and that's where he said the idea for BTZ 101 began.
"Today's Air Force needs strong mentors to grow the leaders of the future, and being a mentor is one of the highest returns on investment you can get for your time," said Robinson. "While the concept of mentoring and the value of the mentor-protégé relationship is nothing new, the Air Force could benefit from a renewed emphasis on the benefits of mentoring."
He alluded to an old Chinese proverb that states, "Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, you feed him for life," and how it demonstrates the impact an involved mentor can have on an individual.
"I encourage all Airmen, regardless of rank, to make mentoring part of their daily lives," Robinson said. "You never know, you just might be mentoring the next chief master sergeant of the Air Force."
As for the Airmen who participated in the course, the feedback given by them was extremely receptive, said Robinson. The cumulative feedback survey reported an "Excellent" rating on the overall course materials and class structure.
Airman 1st Class Ann Keyser, 35th Aerospace Medicine Squadron bioenvironmental engineer apprentice, said at first it sounded really scary and very intimidating. Even though it was just a mock board, it was nerve-wrecking for her not knowing what questions would come or if she would not properly execute a correct facing movement.
"After going to the mock board I am really relaxed now. I'm not as scared about it anymore," said Keyser. "Learning from critiques and more practice, I will be more prepared for the real thing."
The Professional Development Center at Misawa offers many levels of enlisted professional enhancement in addition to the BTZ 101. Seminars like the Junior Enlisted Professional Enhancement Course are for Airmen in the ranks of E1 to E4 and are designed to bridge the gap between First Term Airmen Center and Airman Leadership School. It also includes participants from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army and Japanese Air Self-Defense Force.
For more information please visit the Career Assistance Advisor web site corner here: http://www.misawa.af.mil/library/careerassistanceadvisor.asp