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Before going down to MIPS (Military Entry Processing Center), you will want to make sure that you have a few things in order. Keep in mind that this will be the next four years (or more) of your life, so think ahead. Many people go into bootcamp without realizing that there is more to your enlistment than just bootcamp! If you are looking to make the armed services your career, then you obviously want to enlist for a job that you are going to be happy with for 15 to 20 years. If you are thinking more short term, like a four year enlistment in order to get college money, travel, etc, you will want to find a job that will help you in today’s job market.

- The first step in securing the job that you want is your ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) score. The lower your score, the less opportunities there are that will be open to you. If necessary, purchase an ASVAB study guide at your local bookstore a month before you are due to take the test and study it nightly.

- The next thing to remember is that the recruiters are there to do a job and are graded on their performance. Although they are not supposed to lie to you, they do on occasion. They will almost always “bend” the truth to tell you what you want to hear in order to keep you interested. The best way to protect yourself from this happening is to know what you want before you even step foot in the recruiter’s office. If you go in with the mindset that you simply want to sign up, they will definitely be able to accommodate you, but not necessarily in a way that is best for you.

- If the job that you are looking for is unavailable, wait until it is open unless there is a second option that you really want. Remember, this is at least a four-year commitment.

- Do not sign up as “undesignated”. This is basically giving the government free will over what you do for the next four years. If you enlist without a specific job assignment, you are sure to get the worst duties at your first command. Most recruiters will tell you that being undesignated is a good thing because then you can be anything you want later on. As great as this may sound, it’s not that easy.

- Remember, the enlistment process is the only time during your involvement with the armed services that you are in control of what you do. Once you are in, you are at the mercy of your seniors.

- Once in bootcamp, pay attention to detail. It’s best to keep quiet and listen. Again, pay attention to detail.

- Key point – Once at their first duty station, many “newbies” go out and finance a new car, jewelry, stereos, etc, as it is the first time they have had any money in their lives. Beware of this! Many, many soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines squander their entire first enlistment in debt.

- Finally, make the most of your enlistment! Go to school! Best of luck.