'I Cheated Death a Few Times' - Young Marine Puts College, Career & Life in Perspective

Anthony DineenBy CAREEREALISM Staff When you meet Anthony Dineen, he looks like your typical fun-loving college junior. He’s confident, all smiles and the twinkle in his eye tells you he knows how to have fun. That’s why both myself and his fellow interns at CAREEREALISM were more than a little surprised to learn he had enlisted and served in Iraq in order to pay for college. Anthony is one of thousands of the young men and women who have risked their life overseas. Yet, what many people do not understand is how these individuals return home with their perspective on things like college and work, profoundly altered. In fact, for some, integrating into the civilian workforce after duty is not an easy task. As his manager, I can tell you Anthony hasn’t had that problem. So, we asked him to share with us his thoughts on how an experience like serving as a Marine in the war at such a young age has made him a different, and perhaps, better student and future employee. Do you think you are getting more out of your college experience as a result of your time in Iraq? In a broad sense, yes. I think I am getting much more out of college after my deployment. I went through seven months not knowing if I was going to get another chance to be a college student again. Now that I got that chance, I’m enjoying every experience that much more. Also, the small things don’t bother me as much anymore. Did your interests/priorities change when you came back? They changed a few times. I had no idea what I wanted to do before I deployed. When I was there I thought I wanted to be an English Major, and now I have settled into my Political Science degree and I am really enjoying it. Has your motivation and work ethic changed, and how, after coming back from Iraq? The work ethic has always been there for me. I have always gotten things done when they needed to get done. I have always been a driven individual, but once I came back I had an altered idea about life. When I think about getting through some work, or applying to a job, or just about anything, I think to myself “what’s the worst thing that can happen?” It certainly won’t put my life in danger when I apply for an internship or some other event, so I go at it with a full steam. If I get turned down, or I don’t get the best grade in the class, I might be disappointed but it certainly won’t hurt my feelings. Life goes on. How do you envision your time would have been spent, had you stayed? I most likely would have changed majors a few times and possibly ended up with something I might’ve regretted. But who’s to say that? Do you see joining the Marine Corps as a chance to better your career opportunities? Yes, the Marines are just like any other social networking facility that you can think of but 100 times better. The guys I know would do anything for me and I for them, so if I ask them to possibly help me with a career move they won’t just make an effort, they will do everything in their power to help me out. Also, being able to put the United States Marine Corps on your resume is huge. That one line says more things about an applicant than any other one liner I can think of. I am telling a possible employer that I have leadership traits, my commitment is a given, I can function properly in a group setting; I am competent, honest, dependable, etc. The list goes on. These are traits that are imbedded into all U.S. Marines. Where do you see yourself going after graduation, and how do you think that your previous choices will help you in the long run? I am hoping to become a field agent with the FBI. I would also love to work with the DEA or work as a U.S. Marshall. Joining the U.S. Military obviously helps with the application process to the federal agencies, or even work with a company like Raytheon that works with the government, but in the long run I am counting on what I have done in school to get me to where I want to go. What type of skills did you learn that you believe may help you in finding a job that’s right for you? This is a complicated subject to explain, but I’ll give it a shot. My Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) is 0311. I’m a grunt, or an infantryman. The skills I learned in the Marines are all combat-related. The infantry doesn’t teach computer skills, or other specialty skills that can be transferred over to the civilian world. What I did gain besides the warfare related aspects are things like perseverance, determination, loyalty, tact, dependability. My education from UNH along with these traits will help get me to where I want to be. Do you think you will run into any difficulties finding a job with your background or do you think it will be easier? Well that question has been asked before, and not to me but to veterans after unpopular wars like the Vietnam War, and Congress passed legislation protecting veterans against job discrimination. So an employer can’t turn me down solely on the fact that I am a veteran. Besides that I would think that having this type of background would only beneficial in finding a job. Knowing what you know now, would you make the same choices over again? i.e. cost benefit analysis, or did the means justify the end in the changes you’ve experienced. I am very proud of what I have done for my country and I don’t regret the choices I have made with my military career. I didn’t choose to enlist just so I could put it on my resume; I wanted to serve my country. I do wish there was a way to not loose so much time on my degree but that wasn’t possible at the time. Name 1-2 things you would like to say to someone that is facing the decisions you had to make about not going to college right away. Or rather, any words of wisdom? Words of wisdom… keep your nose to the grindstone and just get it done. My life has many different aspects to it and gets pretty complicated at times, so for someone else in the same boat, I would tell them to keep at it and to not give up. There’s going to be many times when you just want to quit and go home. The reality is that you have to look at it in terms of the long run. If you think you can’t go on anymore, if you hit one of those bad times, pretend you made it through and years have gone by. I’ll bet you could easily laugh about whatever is troubling you now over a drink with your friends. I do this to put things into perspective and it makes things a lot easier for me. Try it out, it might work for you too.