JMO Feedback :: November 2014 Career Conference

After every Career Conference, we ask the JMOs who participated to give us specific feedback on their overall experience in the Cameron-Brooks program.  We do this to ensure that we are constantly evaluating our program, which enables us to provide a valuable service, both to the Military Officers and the Client Companies with whom we partner.  We have also found that one question, in particular, is also beneficial to those officers who have not yet transitioned.  Here is the question and a sample of the individual responses we collected from the November 2014 Career Conference.

Now that you have attended a Career Conference, what specific preparation advice would you give to other Junior Officers to help them succeed at a Conference?

  • First, be very familiar with your answers to commonly asked interview questions, but do not prepare lengthy canned answers that you plan to recite.  In an interview, listen to the question, understand it, and answer it with confidence. You must be able to connect the position competencies with your background and experiences.  Next, practice with a study group, or anyone who can give constructive feedback. Finally, be genuine! Let your personality come out so the companies can see the real you.
  • Do not plan to recite answers in interviews at the conference. My interviews were more like a conversation.  Remember to be genuinely friendly and likable. People would rather hire someone they like and train them than someone they dislike who knows it all.
  • Take every opportunity offered by Cameron-Brooks to maximize your preparation. Complete the entire DPP, read all of the books on the reading list, attend all of the workshops, and engage with a local study groups early. All of this is paramount to your success.
  • Read, read, read – as much as you can, read! Also, spend time making sure you know yourself by writing out as much as you can about your past and what makes you unique. Even the smallest, interesting thing about you could be a great connecting point. Practice telling stories – not just delivering answers. Think about connecting those stories to the roles you will interview for – this will allow a company to see you in the job.
  • I really appreciated the self-reflection and exercises that help me get to know my strengths and weaknesses. I’ve learned so much about myself from the DPP and the Career Conference. Tab 5 of DPP, of course, was extremely valuable.
  • Study groups really help. It was my study group that encouraged me to be myself and worry less about getting the interview question “right”, which ultimately led to success at the conference.
  • RELAX and be confident in yourself. If you have prepared and followed the DPP, then you will be successful. No need to stress this experience, enjoy it!
  • Work up to Tab 5 early so that you put the rest of the tabs and modules in context.
  • Definitely set up a study group about two months before the conference.
  • Be ready to interview when you arrive at the conference on Friday. There will not be much practice time at all throughout the weekend. Relax and enjoy yourself, make this a fun, unique experience and it will flow over into your interviews.
  • Get into a study group early and practice more than you think you need. Study groups gave me the best preparation.
  • Dive head-first into the reading list in order to learn about different career fields and to discover your interests and strengths.
  • Work through the DPP as early as possible and get to the podcasts so you can start writing answers with the right framework, then practice them with your study group far in advance of the conference. Realize that you probably won’t execute an answer exactly the way it is written, but you won’t be able to execute anything well if you haven’t taken the time to prepare and learn the answers. Practice without looking at your notes first to see how much you retain day to day, then check yourself after you finish each question with your team.
  • Join a study group immediately. Conduct mock interviews with the Cameron-Brooks recruiters more than once and, if possible, try to visit the Cameron Brooks office in Texas. Also, watch/listen to the Interview Podcasts more than once!
  • Working with study groups and answering questions in a conversational manner is the number one thing I would stress. Often times the interviewers don’t ask specific questions so during a conversation, you have to find a way to express why you are a fit for the position and company.
  • Start early and do a little bit of preparation every day. Study groups are vital and I recommend increasing in volume of meetings the closer you get to your conference.  I also highly suggest attending the conference with a spouse/significant other. That person can help you by focusing on logistics and other issues, which greatly helps.
  • I strongly recommend reading PCS to Corporate America at least 3 or 4 times, if possible. Also, work in a study group at least 60 days out from your career conference. My study group was extremely helpful in the verbalization of answers 45-days prior to the conference. We even did a round-robin, full-dress rehearsal interview with each other’s spouses/significant others the weekend prior to the conference. This helped build effective expectation management for the interviews and helped to calm my nerves prior to touching down at the conference.

Hopefully this feedback will give you good perspective and more focus in your preparation as you approach your Career Conference.

Pete Van Epps