Friday, January 20, 2012

BMT: Why you should raise your hand!

If you've been trolling around the internet, digging for information on BMT and what you're getting yourself into, no doubt you're probably coming across the statement,

Don't volunteer for anything!

I'm here to tell you, with confidence, ignore it!  You're being told this by folks who think they're giving you good advice for self-preservation.  One of the most important things to remember is that it's not about you.  

One of our Air Force Core Values is "Service Before Self."  While self-preservation may be your goal during the first couple of weeks, you'll soon realize (as your MTI will stress) that you can't succeed unless you work together.  The sooner you relinquish control, the better.  The sooner you start helping others without being asked or told to do so, the better.  Your experience will be exponentially better when you and your flight mates begin pulling each other's workloads.

This "Don't Volunteer" advice is frequently dispensed to trainees inquiring about jobs and duties in the dorm.  Guess what?  Your MTI already has an idea in his/her head about what they think you're going to do, and they're in control.  My MTI went around the dorm and asked us questions about our civilian jobs, education, and experience.  Based on that and how he'd seen us perform, he assigned our jobs.  There was no discussion about what I wanted to do.  Sure, when it came to filling the last few things, he did ask for volunteers.  Don't be the person that's sitting and waiting, hoping not to be noticed.  Volunteer!

BMT, like life in general, lives off the philosophy that what you put into it is what you get out of it.  You may question why you should volunteer, why you should keep extending yourself to extra KP duty on Sunday or squadron clean-up, when there are other trainees sitting around your flight, trying to do as little as possible.  Surprise, surprise - they ultimately get nothing out of it.

As a Dorm Chief, I had a significant amount of influence with my MTI.  My element leaders and I wrote nightly letters to him, discussing the "Trainees of Note" and the "Trainees of Concern."  We highlighted those who were always volunteering, assisting others without prompts, and who were consistent performers in our flight.  Those efforts did not go unnoticed, and those trainees ended up receiving bonus/privilege phone calls of 15 - 20 minutes.  Some were even able to "save" those calls for a special occasion, like a child's birthday.  Over 8.5 weeks, you're only going to get (as long as you don't mess up) a 15 minute phone call, once a week.  Trust me, you'll want a bonus call if you can get one!

Even in the operational Air Force, leadership values volunteerism.  When you're being evaluated, you'll submit a list of your volunteer activities, in addition to your accomplishments on the job.  Service Before Self permeates everything we do.  Remember that and RAISE YOUR HAND!  

7 comments:

Spiral said...

I am leaving for BMT on Oct. 16, 2012 and your blog helped me out alleviate some of my nervousness. But this particular entry was very inspiring for me. Thank you so much for taking the time to write about your experiences in BMT.

Erin said...

@Spiral - I missed your departure, but thank you! Best of luck to you at BMT!

LNaranjo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LNaranjo said...

Whoops I deleted my previous post darn "smart phones" ...Hey Erin, thank you for sharing your experience at BMT your blogs have been very fun and informative!.. I leave for BMT in a few days on 30 Apr 13!

Erin said...

I missed your departure, but good luck to you! Glad it's been helpful!

Unknown said...

Hi ERIN, i just want to say thank you for sharing your experience to us. Im leaving in Dec.10 and to be honest, im just anxious and freaked out as hell. But reading your blogs definitely gives me a better idea of what is BMT like. And your tips is really a big help for those of us who doesnt know what to and what not to do.

Erin said...

@Unknown - You've very welcome! It's totally natural to feel anxious - you're entering the unknown! I promise you this, it does get better, and you will gain confidence as the weeks go by. Best of luck to you!