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Logistic Job-Norfolk Southern Railroad (TRAINMASTER)
This week, please share your experiences in landing a business or logistics job. If you are currently in a military logistics billet, share your experiences with the class. How did your logistics work center bring the new member up to speed, and how long did it take? If in business or logistics, what special training classes or on-the-job training have prepared you for the future?
While I am not currently serving in a logistics billet at my current unit, several of my previous assignments in the NY Army National Guard were logistics-related positions. My first official position dedicated to logistics was as the Squadron (Battalion) S-4 officer. This entailed logistics coordination responsibility for the cavalry reconnaissance squadron to which I was assigned. I was placed in this position primarily because the squadron commander was aware of my interest in logistics, and he provided me with this opportunity for development. The position was challenging due to my lack of prior logistics experience, as well as the fact that I was not on active duty status, which limited my access to secure military logistics systems and developing information throughout the month. Another big challenge was learning how to do the job, as most of my senior officers and peers were relatively unfamiliar with the duties and responsibilities, and my full-time NCO was extremely busy. Knowledge resources were challenging to get ahold of, and I’ll admit that I never felt up to speed, even after almost a year in that position. However, I did learn a great deal that helped prepare me for other logistics assignments.
My next assignment was as the Brigade Operations-Logistics Planner. Shortly after being assigned to this position, I attended 4 weeks of the Army Reserve Component Captain’s Career Course at Fort Lee, VA, where I completed a valuable crash course in Army and joint logistics operations.
A few months after completing this course, I received active duty orders to support NY’s COVID-19 response operations. My first position was as a strike team leader, involving logistics only in conjunction with other small unit leadership functions. Three months later I was reassigned to a headquarters element under the J-4 (logistics) shop to coordinate subsistence for National Guard operations in various locations across the state. I remained in this position for about a year and a half. There was no formal training for that specific position, but my first boss did a very good job of mentoring me through my responsibilities and making me aware of his expectations. Looking back, I’d say that after a week or two I was able to function without significant oversight from my boss. This position involved contacting and negotiating service agreements with local food vendors, coordinating payment for services, and working with National Guard leadership in the receiving units to ensure food services were flowing appropriately for each mission. This was my most recent logistics-related position in the military.
One thing I have learned about the logistics field (both military and civilian) is that it is very broad and entails many different skills and areas of expertise. In the S-4 and Operations-Logistics Planner positions that I mentioned above, I often felt overwhelmed with the broad knowledge that was expected of me. However, in the meal coordination role, the scope of responsibility was more limited, and it was easier to focus and develop myself in that role. The on-the-job training that I received in my military logistics positions has prepared me for the future by teaching me to start with limited focuses and work to expand them as I gain a wider amount of experience.
Has anyone in class previously found themselves in similar situations where the responsibilities/expectations are broad and vague? If so, what are some recommendations for navigating such challenges?
Over the last few years, I have had three roles. When I job search, I look for something that aligns with my experience and my interests. I also, look at the organizations and the clients they work with. I have no interest in pursuing work with a company that does business with companies I do not like.
When I interview is where I take the opportunity to discover what the corporate culture is like and what the team is like. I always look at is as a two-way street and only go to companies that seem like the team personality compliments my own personality. To get the interviews I have really focused on roles that use technology which I have professional and personal experience in, most of my training has been self-taught. But, to get my foot in the door has been because of very specific groups I have been a part of early in my career that set me up for success later.
I would say, being a self-starter and flexible in the workplace has led me to success early on in a new position. Instead of sitting back waiting to be told what to do I go out and ask if I can help solve a problem or increase operational efficiencies. Also, after reading How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie I have also focused on being positive in the workplace too.
Finally, in when going for the next job I always do my research on the company or organization. I always come prepared with my standard list of questions I ask. If I feel like the interview is going poorly, I ask the interviewers a tough question and if I feel like I mesh with the team I ask the interviewer softball questions.