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What it means to be a first-term Airman

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- (Editor's Note: All members of each First Term Airman's Center class write a commentary entitled, "What it means to be a first-term Airman." The FTAC instructors select the best commentary, and the writer receives the "Gunfighter Pride" award. The following is the most recent selection.) 

Being a first-term Airman can mean many different things - from becoming part of a team for the first time, the next chief master sergeant of the Air Force or even the first step to becoming an officer. No matter what the meaning is it all begins with us putting our best foot forward.

To achieve this, we must keep a positive mental attuide and live up to the core valves of integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do. With this as a solid foundation, we can complete any objective set before us and our own goals as well.

Being first-term Airmen, we should all strive to prove ourselves and exceed standards - not just meet them. What is the best way to do that? Simply learn your strengths and weaknesses. Then utilize your strengths to better sever the mission and improve your weakness.

As first-term Airmen, you should ask your co-workers and supervisors where you need to improve and show them what you can bring to the table. As first-term Airmen we learn a lot from those around us. Having good supervisors and co-workers also helps with the transition from a training environment to a mission orientated one.

The first week I was at my shop they made me feel like I was a member of the team. We all went out and repaired fences and after work we all went camping. That weekend gave me the opportunity to see them work as a group and to also prove myself to them a little bit. This also allowed us to get to know each other. Experiences like this help first-term Airmen learn and grow as a member of a team and as professionals.

Another goal for first-term Airmen is to learn their jobs. The best ways to do this is through our Career Development Courses and hands-on-experiences. Scoring well on CDCs shows our supervisor and co-workers that we can follow simple instructions and retain the information we are receiving. Hands-on work shows that we can apply what we learned during our technical school and CDCs to our work.

Something else for new Airmen to do is self improvement. Airmen have many options to do this. The finance office teaches how to manage your money better, pay bills, living on a budget and many other finical inquirers. The education office offers a CLEP test, this test helps you gain a degree faster based on your strengths in areas you are already good at. However, not all of the self improvement lessons can be learned in a classroom.

You should also work on your off-duty habits, because your off-duty conduct and habits can transfer to your work place. Sometimes that can make the difference between a four and a five on your next enlisted performance report. So learn a new hobby like cooking or vehicle maintenance. This can also help get rid of some of your bad habit or stop you from picking up new ones.

All of these issues and many, many others make up what it means to be a first-term Airman. So, one of the most important things is not to get overwhelmed or burnt out with things, because this can lead to poor decision making, decreased work performance and sometimes even disciplinary actions.