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BY Joel Junker

Have More than One Year before a Potential Military Transition? Think You Have Plenty of Time? Think Again.

When I speak with JMOs who have 2 or more years before they can even potentially leave the service about their future career plans, most tell me they have a lot of time before they need to think, plan or prepare for that decision.  It’s a natural answer since the immediacy of deployments, military requirements, long work hours and a personal life take precedence.  However, in my 14 years of experience partnering with JMOs, the ones who make the most successful transitions are the ones who are BOTH the best prepared AND the top performing JMOs.  Make note of my point here – BOTH.  The comments, “I have two more years,”  or, “I have time,” essentially mean, “That’s way off in the future and I have plenty of time for that later.”

In reality, being a top performing JMO right now is preparing for a potential transition or any next step in a career.  In other words, being a top performer is setting the foundation for whatever you want to do next whether you choose continued service in the military, pursuing a business career, going to graduate school, going back to the family business, etc.

Even if you think you might stay in the military, remember: even the best laid plans can change.  And regardless of the path you ultimately choose, it pays big dividends long-term to be well prepared for a broad range of options.

So, where to begin?


Past success begets future success, and all employers (military or otherwise) are looking for candidates who have proven their mettle.  Poor leaders lean on their rank; powerful leaders develop themselves and those around them.  Jump into these steps to ensure a solid foundation of success from which to leverage your career direction:

1)  READ, READ, READ – regardless of your location or OPTEMPO, commit to a professional reading habit now to continue for the balance of your career.

  • Biographical, historical, and leadership books offer valuable life and work lessons.
  • Books and periodicals on economics, business trends, and current events help you anticipate issues and prepare for contingencies.
  • Concepts like LEAN, Six Sigma and higher level Project Management give you an edge for affecting positive impact.
  • In PCS to Corporate America, 4TH ed.,  discover how the civilian sector views your JMO background, how to avoid common pitfalls in a transition, and what top-tier transition preparation entails.  Here is the link:


  • Consult the comprehensive recommended reading list in PCS to Corporate America, 4th ed.,  or link to our reading program online:



  • Make notes of new concepts and the ideas that resonate with you.
  • Use your findings to refine your skills, define your natural talents, and guide your path for career fulfillment.


  • Become familiar with a variety of topics such as process improvement, LEAN, Six Sigma, Project Management, and Self-Directed Work Teams.  While these are business topics, you can use them in the military to get even better results.


  • Does your degree demonstrate an interest or make you competitive in the career fields you may want to pursue?
  • NOTE: when and how you choose higher degrees make a difference.  Sooner is not always better. Later in this blog series, we’ll explore how to strategize higher education.


  • Your branch will likely offer programs in Six Sigma, Project Management, Leadership, or process improvement.
  • There are many universities and companies who provide reputable – and portable – certification programs.  We’ll discuss these further in a later blog.


If Corporate America intrigues you, then take the following action steps to gather a wide range of information in a relatively short period of time:

  • Follow the steps above.
  • Browse the Cameron-Brooks website.
  • Connect me on Linkedin. I lead the recruiting effort here at Cameron-Brooks and post periodic updates on this page.
  • Add PCS to Corporate America, 4th ed. by Roger Cameron, Chuck Alvarez and Joel Junker to your professional library (available at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com). Use it like a workbook.
  • Attend a Career Information Meeting when we visit your area, or request a recorded version in webcast format.
  • Schedule a Personal Marketability Assessment with one of our recruiters to learn how you can best prepare for your potential transition.

So, even if you have time, I encourage you to take these steps be a great JMO now – continue to read, develop yourself, and apply what you learn to maximize your growth and make your organization great.  Only then will you be in a position to make well-informed decisions about your career path.

In the next several blog posts, we’ll begin to outline important points to consider as you map out your individual path for success.

Joel Junker and Aimee Martin