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By Melanie Conner, APUS Alumni Relations Outreach Liaison and Staff Sgt. Victoria Thompson, AMU Graduate
Victoria Thompson completed her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 2017. She was recently selected as a personnel officer to attend Officer Training School at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama.
In her new position, she will promote and nurture the best skills and experience of Air Force personnel. For example, she will manage the assignments of individuals to their next duty station, put in packages for officers to meet a board for their next rank, and managing the section that executes reenlistments, separations, and enlistment extensions. Overall, Victoria works toward keeping the Air Force as strong and effective as possible.
What will your new position entail?
My career as an officer will be in the personnel field. As a personnel officer, I will be a steward of one of the Air Force’s greatest assets: its people. I will manage and assist in procuring individuals for recruitment and will manage assignments to/from duty stations, enlisted and officer promotions, and separations of individuals at my duty station.
What inspired you to pursue a career in this field?
I have a very fluid lifestyle. I am a flight crewmember in my current career of Communication Systems Operator/Radio Operator.
My career requires a great amount of temporary deployments to other states and to overseas locations each year. In the personnel career field, I will continue serving the people of the Air Force in a different way. This new career provides a more stable lifestyle for my husband and me. He is also on active duty and the improved stability will enable us to start a family.
How did you prepare to enter this field?
As an aircrew member, coordinating with others and working with them to complete the mission is crucial in this career field.
Along with my flying job, I have also worked in various jobs in my squadron on the days when I am not flying. Most of these jobs, such as Commanders Support Staff and Unit Training Manager, have involved coordination and interaction with others in the squadron. I feel as though I have grown significantly in this area during my years in the service.
Has the knowledge you acquired with your AMU bachelor’s degree assisted you in the field?
When I decided to get my bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, I chose that field due to my interest in the subject. I did not really have an interest in being part of the military police, also known as security forces in the Air Force, as an officer.
The knowledge I obtained through my studies of criminal justice apply much more to my personal life and knowledge than it will in the personnel career field. When I get out of the Air Force, I would love to become a probation officer or parole officer. I would also love a career with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
What are the biggest challenges you face?
At this point, my greatest upcoming challenge will be completing Officer Training School in September 2018.
Officer Training School consists of leadership training and has some comparisons to the basic military training that I received when I enlisted in the Air Force. I am already studying the material I’ll need in Officer Training School.
What is your greatest accomplishment to date?
My greatest accomplishment, aside from obtaining my bachelor’s degree while working full-time on active duty, would be my promotion to staff sergeant in the Air Force.
Promotion in the Air Force is slightly different from other branches. It requires taking a test and obtaining a certain score, in addition to the ratings received on job performance reports. I was able to make staff sergeant on my first attempt about two years ago.
What advice do you have for people seeking a career in your field?
Most people who seek a career as an officer in the Air Force may not have a significant preference for which job they would like to get. Some hope that they will be accepted into Officer Training School.
My greatest piece of advice for those who enlist in the military and look to be accepted into an officer training program would be to build their skills from a personal and professional standpoint.
There are many different aspects to becoming an officer. Any individual looking to apply [to OTC] should focus on all aspects of the application package. The application package should consist of a personal profile Word document with all personal and duty-related information, a similar personal information form, a personal statement, a letter of recommendation from their commander and a statement of medical clearance.
What book are you reading now that you would recommend to others?
Currently, I am reading “Tattoos on the Heart” by Gregory Boyle. This book was published in 2010 and is right up my alley. It is about Father Boyle and his experiences starting Homeboy Industries in California. He concentrated on spreading the word of God and getting gang members off the street and into a safe place.
I love that Father Boyle has such a heart for those who may have no hope for their future. And I am inspired by his work toward decreasing gang problem in Los Angeles.
What do you do in your free time?
In my free time, I love to decompress through self-care, such as getting massages or pedicures. Aside from that, I love to hang out with my friends, go to various events, and play with my miniature schnauzer puppy, Lando.
My husband and I love to go out and have a good time on the town or travel as well.