It is quite a unique experience being in a class that mainly relies on discussing the fulfillment of your education in a career in your field of study. I imagine this is quite normal for most people, as the purpose of going to a university, paying hundreds of thousands of dollars, and studying a particular subject, presumably would result in using those skills to acquire a well-paying career. Ah but for the lucky few of us, we get to come to a university and suffer through our majors only in order to virtually completely disregard them to serve in our nation’s armed forces.
Now I wouldn’t say that studying mechanical engineering was useless by any means. I really did learn quite a lot in my time here at Notre Dame. I learned all about what it means to work with no sleep for hours on end and still produce a fairly good product. I am now quite proficient at finding the answer to a previously thought impossible problem, by using the google machine. I’ve learned how to sleep in places most would find drastically uncomfortable to look at. I learned…well I could go on all day like that.
I mention all of that only to say that being in the Navy doesn’t give me room to negotiate really anything. It does save me from even having to look for a job! But most of what that job was going to be was set from the time I came into school freshman year. The only options I had was competing to choose between the 3 different communities that officers from ROTC go into: Surface Warfare, Submarine Warfare, and Aviation.
For the first 3.5 years of college, one of the main goals for midshipman is to get good grades and rank well in your own class of midshipmen, as well as among the midshipmen across the nation. The higher ranked you are, the more likely you are to get your preferred selection of those three when the time comes. Unfortunately, unless you are ranked #1, you are not guaranteed anything. “Needs of the Navy” come first.
For those midshipmen like myself who wanted to become Naval Aviators, there is a test called the Aviation Selection Test Battery (ASTB). This tests for potential as an aviator. Fortunately for aviators, doing very well on this test greatly increases one’s chances of being selected. Despite my less than stellar class ranking, I did extremely well on this test and as a result, got selected to be a Student Naval Aviator after commissioning and graduation!
So really, in the end, the only thing to do is get commissioned and start your career. This is very different than any of the readings for today. They were all about the willingness to negotiate and how much new graduates worried about losing their offer if they negotiated. Being in the military negates all of these fears, but it also negates the benefits. The military salary is set up with a base pay for each rank. It is the same across the board for officers of the same rank and goes up the same upon promotion. Added to base pay, are benefits and allowances that raise the overall salary quite a bit.
A couple major allowances are the Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS), which is meant to offset costs for a member’s meals, and Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), to offset the cost of housing. Your BAH depends upon your location, pay grade and whether you have dependents. They vary greatly depending on your location because the BAH rates are set by surveying the cost of rental properties in each geographic location. Because of this, it all evens out among service members of the same rank.
In the end, the best way to raise one’s salary is to get promoted for being a great officer. This promotes the best type of negotiation: the kind that is done with your actions.