Well basically I like to joke that I really have no idea how I ended up where I am today. BUT that being said, I have no complaints at all!
My usual ice-breaker is that prior to January of this last year, I went from operating a machine gun to figuring out how to operate a dang copy machine...! Previously I had served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps as an infantryman, specifically a 0331. I joined when I was 17 and left for boot camp two weeks after graduating high school. Being a Marine, and especially a grunt, was all I had ever wanted to do with my life up until then. So, it was a dream come true once I received that Eagle, Globe, and Anchor.
But, the real reason I enjoyed being in the Corps was the travel perks! Being that I was from a small rural town in central Missouri, there weren't many chances for a boy like myself to make it out of there and follow my true passion of travel. (Even though I did manage to luck out and travel to six countries while still in school.) Once I was in, I relished the opportunities to travel the world, rather it be on ship or by plane. During my two combat deployments to Iraq (from Fallujah in 2004 to Operations Steel Curtain and Iron Hammer in 2005-2006) I was able to set my feet on nine countries on four continents. Not bad for a boy of 20 if you ask me...! So obviously being global was, and still is, huge to me.
The ability to learn about new and different cultures, their languages, history, and overall perspective is something that in today's ever connected world I find extremely important. So, once I was given the opportunity for an internship back last January here with the Department of Commerce's Commercial Service I just couldn't pass it up. While still finishing up my undergraduate degree in international business I was greatly surprised when my Director offered me a full-time position with the government as an International Trade Specialist. What was even better to find out was that I didn't have to start from scratch again, as my former time in the Corps counted towards my overall time in service for the Federal government!
That being said, if not for the Veteran Employment Initiative I'd be another lost and confused young veteran trying to find his way through this civilian concrete jungle. Thankfully, I had some great people come along and see through the social stigma of (proudly) being a Marine grunt and took a chance on me. And for that, I am eternally grateful. Semper Fi!!