Recent studies show that more college graduates are ditching their suits and ties in favor of military jobs.
In 2008, the military experienced record numbers in recruitment and within the population of those pursuing military employment were a substantial number of college graduates. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the last recession in the U.S. began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009. From 2002 to 2011, the unemployment rate had also risen from about 6 percent to around 9 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“My friend called me laughing hysterically saying that someone was trying to recruit her into the army,” Sgt. Jaclyn McJunkin said. “I told her to ask him if they would pay for school, because I was interested in getting a master’s degree. He said yes. I asked if they would pay for a doctorate as well. He said yes to that, too.”
McJunkin, who is pursuing her master’s degree in sociology at the University of Houston, is one of the many college graduates who decided to join the military because of the opportunities it offered her.
“It became apparent that I speak Spanish, so I did regional psychological operations,” McJunkin says. During her years in active duty, McJunkin served in Columbia, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.
As of August 2011, there were 1.2 million enlisted personnel in each branch of the military and coast guard. Additionally, there were 247,834 officers in the military, according to the BLS. Officers must be college graduates or graduates of a four-year military academy.
The RAND Corporation, a non-profit research institution, found that the Army and Navy reported a nearly 50 percent rise in the number of members that hold college degrees since the early 2000s.
The post-9/11 GI Bill ensures that those who serve in the army after Sept. 10, 2011 receive tuition and fees to public in-state colleges, a living stipend, and a $1,000 allowance for books and supplies. Loan repayment programs for school fees acquired prior to a person’s enlistment is another benefit that is offered, according to Today’s Military.
“I had about $12,000 in loans,” McJunkin said.
Lawren Bradberry, Mental Health Non-Commissioned Officer and the program coordinator at the Veteran’s Services Office at UH, says that the military has its ups and downs.
“Don’t believe what you see on TV,” Bradberry said. “The military is like any regular job. We get up in the morning, we work out, then we go to work.”
Bradberry was in the military both before and after college, and believes that it’s unlike any other job out there. He stresses the importance of intrinsic motivation, which is important to college students and military professionals alike.
“The military is a culture, not only a career … one of the best parts about it is being in an organization of people that care about each other,” she said.
“You don’t see the kind of competition that you see in the civilian sector. You compete against yourself.”