Personnel apprenticeship fostered at Keesler

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Stephan Coleman
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
It's the responsibility of all Airmen to keep track of their own career progression, but there is also an Air Force Specialty Code dedicated to such support. The 335th Training Squadron instructs personnel specialists to oversee Airmen career development, job specialties, promotions and training programs.

The personnel apprentice course is broken into five blocks lasting 24 academic days. It teaches students the basics of handling Military Personnel Data Systems, customer service, career development and mobility readiness.

"My favorite part of this course is the balance of being an Airman and being a personnelist," said Airman 1st Class Bethea, 335th TRS technical training student. "I'm not just learning the information that I will use to do my job eight hours a day, but I'm learning information I'll use throughout my career."

Bethea and Airman 1st Class Crystalynn Judkins, 335th TRS, agree that the course covers a lot of information with many small details.

"Understanding why we do all the little things we do helps motivate me," said Judkins, who has done most of the on-the-job work as part of her National Guard duties.

"They aren't here very long," said Master Sgt. Tiffany Brown, 335th TRS personnel instructor. "So, not only do we need to give them all the little pieces, we need them to understand why and how each part is important."

Small groups of students are taught how to maintain personnel records; advise personnel on career development, job specialties, special assignments, promotions and retraining programs; and process personnel for separation, re-enlistments and changes of routine or special duty assignments in roughly six weeks.

"We're only able to scratch the surface," said Sunday Rae Duarte Mangum, 335th TRS personnel instructor. "It can be difficult to keep students focused and motivated on each and every block. Each block is as important as the last, so we have to keep the big picture in their minds."

The constant turnover of students being taught the same five blocks may sound tedious, but the importance of the career field motivates the instructors to succeed.

"Other people don't realize the impact our career field has on theirs until it's time for a permanent change of station or a promotion," said Mangum. "The records we maintain affect everyone's career in the Air Force."

Driving the Air Force mission at such a foundational level is reason enough for experts to become instructors, but Brown added that the job occasionally gives a little extra incentive.

"It's always great when your students get to their first base and they eventually email you about what they've accomplished for their own careers," said Brown. "Impacting the Airmen is what makes being an instructor so rewarding."