Career Assistance Advisor Improves Airmen’s Experience Through AFMC ‘We Need’ Initiative
Tuesday, June 8th, 2021
Like most processes, there is often room for improvement.
Master Sgt. Stephen Van Pelt, career assistance advisor in the 78th Force Support Squadron provides support across Robins Air Force Base to all Team Robins through the Professional Development Center. He recently used feedback from the Air Force Materiel Command ‘We Need’ Survey to create several professional development and career enhancing initiatives to improve career assistance services at Robins.
The AFMC ‘We Need’ enterprise-wide initiative, launched June 24, 2019, seeks inputs and recommendations from AFMC civilian and military Airmen that can help posture the command to best support the National Defense Strategy today and in the decades to come.
Van Pelt has recently made many changes to his program as part of the command’s initiative.
“The Non-commissioned Officer and Senior Non-commissioned Officer Professional Enhancement Seminar is a recurring professional development opportunity hosted by the career assistance advisor,” he said. “I’ve worked closely with the Top 3s, first sergeants, and the Chiefs Group to enhance these offerings through panels, diverse instructors, and enhancing the lessons with interactive activities. I’ve incorporated Leadership Talks each day to bring leaders from across the base to engage with the class. Such topics include ‘Infinite Worth’ from the Chaplain Corps, ‘Conflict Management’ from Air Force Negotiation Center, ‘Continuous Process Improvement’ from the 78th Air Base Wing’s process manager, and many more.”
Additionally, Van Pelt created an NCO panel to provide an opportunity for such leaders during the course to learn about challenges those under their leadership face.
Van Pelt said he also developed the Superintendent Course to better prepare senior leaders for future potential positions.
“The Superintendent Course is a new unique local offering for our senior leaders being positioned for superintendent roles in their organization,” he said. “This three-day leadership course brings together a class of 25-30 students from different organizations across the base. The course is broken up into five different modules that cover areas like, “The Role of the Superintendent”, “Supporting the CC” and “Personal Wellbeing”. There is a Commander Panel, Group Chief Panel, mentorship time with the command chiefs, and more.”
“The true takeaway is the networking opportunity for our senior leaders to connect with each other in this course,” Van Pelt said.
Van Pelt has added other courses which he said will help Airmen in their careers.
“The Airmen Professional Enhancement Seminar is a new four-day leadership course that covers 26 diverse topics with close to 56 strategically programmed facilitators, instructors, and mentors from across Team Robins that connect with our enlisted Airmen,” he said.
In addition, Van Pelt said he has added a variety of other offerings to his program, such as Four Lenses Personality Training, the Museum of Aviation Heritage Today tour with the museum’s curators, and a speed mentoring event with 15 diverse senior NCO leaders from across Robins.
Van Pelt said he has also added a dress and appearance team-building activity to help Airmen identify uniform infractions, using manikins provided by Robins’ Exchange.
These are just some of the changes Van Pelt has incorporated to benefit Airmen.
The career assistance advisor has also partnered with the base’s Chiefs Group to host a new biannual event, “Taking Charge of Your Career,” which covers promotions, records reviews and a mentorship platform that helps chiefs conduct one-on-one records reviews with Airmen.
The First Term Airman Center’s NCOIC program has also been revived.
“This is a deliberate development program for a sharp NCO to fulfill a six-month position at the Professional Development Center, working side by side with the career assistance advisor,” Van Pelt said. “They are certified to teach the Airmanship 300 curriculum for the First Term Airman Course that is offered monthly here at Robins. They help host the Airman Professional Enhancement Seminar and support day-to-day operations at the Professional Development Center.”
In other areas, Van Pelt said the Professional Development Center’s technology upgrade was an innovative effort to get new touch screen laser projectors and mobile 100-inch touch screen SMART TVs for both the Professional Development Center and the Airman Leadership School.
“This upgrade outfitted five classrooms and an auditorium, tackling the old 15-year technology gap, and is giving Team Robins the leading-edge tools to help enhance classroom instruction well into the future,” he said.
Finally, Van Pelt began a “CAA Walkabout” as another effort to rebrand the CAA position and reach different units across the base.
“I’ve been working with the First Sergeant Council to connect with a unit each month, walking through the work centers, engaging with the Airmen, learning their jobs, talking about opportunities, and providing information about how to connect with the CAA for one-on-one counseling,” he said.
Van Pelt said he recently made walkabout visits to the 78th Operations Support Squadron, specifically making stops in the 78th OSS’s Weather Flight and Air Traffic Control Tower, and spoke with the Aviation Resource Management Team.
In April, Van Pelt reached out to other units through the visits.
“I went to the 5th Combat Communications Support Squadron and talked with the Information Technology teams, supply teams, and visited a combat training center,” he said.
Van Pelt’s program improvements are far from complete.
“The Professional Development Center virtual streaming capability will not only impact all of the professional development programs I offer, but it will also support the base and our mission partners providing new ways to be innovative and creative with technology and to reach a wider audience,” he said.
Van Pelt said the capability will give Robins the digital footprint it needs for current and future opportunities.
The Company Grade Officer Professional Enhancement Seminar is another course Van Pelt has planned for the future.
“The CGO Professional Enhancement Seminar will be a unique offering for our officer community,” he said. “The goal will be to connect with the officer professional organization to host and launch a local leadership course offering like the Superintendent Course or other enlisted seminars that are hosted thru the Professional Development Center.”
Van Pelt said he also has plans for an Enlisted Career Broadening Fair that will educate Robins enlisted Airmen about special duties that are available to the enlisted corps across the Air Force.
In addition, Van Pelt said the Total Force Development Council will help create partnerships between the organizations on base with a focus on professional development.
“It will help create continuity, provide tools and resources for facilitators, and sustain the current offerings of professional development to the base thru the Professional Development Center,” he said.
Van Pelt said the AFMC ‘We Need’ Initiative has served as a tool to help him fulfill his role at Robins.
“In my program, I need vision,” he said. “The AFMC ‘We Need’ Initiative helped me shape my vision for my program and gives me the focus and structure I need to get after areas that will make a difference for our Airmen.”