Profile: Joseph Cooper

iNARTE: What is your current role?

Joseph: Electronics Technician Master Chief (ETCM) for the U.S. Navy. I am currently stationed onboard U.S.S. Tripoli, a ship currently being constructed in Pascagoula, Mississippi.

iNARTE: What is your primary area of expertise?

Joseph: Electronics operations and maintenance management (Interior/exterior shipboard communications, radars, and navigation).

iNARTE: What certifications do you hold?

Joseph: iNARTE Telecommunications Senior Technician

iNARTE: Was being a military service member your first career choice?

Joseph: The United States Navy was my first career choice. I planned to join the Navy while I was a still in my junior year of high school. I was 17 when I enlisted, so I had to get my mom and dad to sign paperwork allowing me to join.

iNARTE: How has iNARTE certification contributed to or influenced your career?

Joseph: iNARTE certification is among the first civilian certifications I have received that shows my competence and requisite experience in the telecommunications field. I achieved Telecommunications Junior Technician last year and now hold the Telecommunications Senior Technician certification. I will be able to obtain the Master level prior to transitioning from the military next year. I am toward the end of my military career and realized I needed a way to translate my military experiences to the civilian sector to make myself a more competitive candidate when it comes time to apply for employment. My iNARTE certification will be a big help!

iNARTE: What are some of the most poignant moments in your career?  

Joseph: The military is unique from most organizations in that it is structured in a way to continuously develop leadership at all ranks. My most memorable moments are the opportunities I had to help develop leadership for my junior sailors and to see them succeed in their careers.

iNARTE: What advice would you give those at the beginning of their career or to those transitioning out of military service?

Joseph: My advice to anyone beginning a career is to take advantage of every learning opportunity if you want to supercharge your life—be a life-long learner. Formal learning is great, but on the job training and work experience is even better! The work you do is what builds you up (your resume) for bigger and better employment opportunities. The only way to develop mastery of a skill is through experience. Life-long learning is not just about getting a degree or certifications. It is about continuous learning and growth in order to always be competitive and add value.

My advice to anyone transitioning out of military service is to start planning early. There are so many challenges to plan for that you cannot wait until one or two months prior to separation to complete everything that needs to be done for a successful transition; i.e. finances, job search, move, place to live, education, etc… I commenced planning for my transition two years out. I have gotten a lot done over this past year, but still have so much to do. I am confident I will be able to transition successfully this next year, because of the extra time I gave myself to work toward my transition.

iNARTE: Are there any additional thoughts or anecdotes you wish to share?

Joseph: 29 years of military service has gone by very fast! I am often asked “What is my secret for staying positive and motivated in a high stress environment?” My secret is finding joy in my work each day, being part of a team, and the pride in being able to serve my country for so long. My first shipboard assignment was to hand-clean the sludge from the engine room bilge pockets. Although I didn’t enjoy the very dirty nature of this necessary work at the time, I did enjoy supporting my watch-team, and took pride in the quality of my work.