A big problem I was faced with after leaving the service was finding a suitable job that I actually enjoyed doing, as well as one that gave me a purpose. I knew I wanted to work in recreation or natural resources, but found that it was more difficult than I thought. To get an entry-level position, you need both experience and education and it’s difficult to get one without the other. After a while it got really discouraging. Finding the VetsWork AmeriCorps program has given me the encouragement I need to keep going after what I want. Every person I spoke with who had a career with the Forest Service kept telling me I needed to be willing to move away from home. So I did. Being from eastern Tennessee there surprisingly wasn’t a whole lot of job options for what I wanted, so at the end of last summer I made the decision to apply for the Ouachita National Forest recreation technician intern position through the Mt. Adams Institute. To my surprise I got it, however, to be honest, I was really skeptical at first; I thought it was a scam (it sounded too good to be true). Now I could not be happier. In the first week I mainly worked alongside a group of volunteers from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.
After that, my first month has mostly consisted of getting ready for the summer season; that just means a lot of campsite maintenance.
A big part of the internship I am mostly looking forward to is going to fire school and getting my red card to be able to do wildland firefighting. When I was active duty, firefighting was a big part of being in the navy and I miss it.
The hardest thing for me so far is being away from my family, but other than that I wouldn’t change anything else. I truly could not be more grateful to be here and it’s just the start into my career that I need.