Chief Radio Electronics Technician
Michael Dennis knows a good opportunity when he sees one. And when he learned of the career advancement opportunities at Military Sealift Command, he acted quickly.
After retiring from the U.S. Navy in 1998 as a chief operations specialist, Dennis began working in the information technology field. His post-Navy career path was headed in the right direction as he enjoyed his work and was making a comfortable living. It was a casual meeting he took with an old Navy friend that would impact his career forever. Dennis’ friend was a chief radio electronics technician with MSC and he invited Dennis to visit USNS Kanawha. During this meeting, Dennis saw the perfect opportunity to apply his Navy experience and newly developed IT skill sets to a civil service career.
“I saw both worlds together. I could see great opportunities at MSC and I was impressed by what they had to offer.”
But why MSC? Dennis was already reaping the rewards of a successful IT career: enjoying steady work and good pay. After exploring the advantages of MSC, Dennis learned of the advancement opportunities.
“In the IT industry, good experience is hard to come by and it takes a long time to get.” he explained. “At MSC, I saw the opportunity for me to operate equipment and administrate networks would be accelerated compared to the private sector.”
Dennis also learned that many MSC CIVMARs are former military, just like him. “I chose MSC because it was a chance to serve with so many great people.Many of those employed by MSC are veterans who have brought their skills and professionalism with them. The camaraderie I feel aboard an MSC ship is unique; it makes me feel like I am part of the team.”
Dennis joined MSC in 2005 as a Second Radio Electronics Technician. After just 7 shipboard tours, he is currently sailing as the Chief Radio Electronics Technician aboard USNS Matthew Perry. With each tour, Dennis gained valuable experience which allowed him to advance his career. However, one particular tour aboard USNS Sacajawea stands above the rest.
“The first tour aboard […] USNS Sacagawea gave me the opportunity to truly use my skills and industry certification to the fullest extent. I helped setup the ship’s LAN system from top to bottom. I organized it and administered it. This tour was so successful that upon completion, I was asked to return as the LAN administrator. The friendships forged, both personally and professionally, will always make that tour my favorite.”
While career advancement opportunities provide much of the initial attraction to MSC, it’s the comfortable living conditions that make the pursuit of those opportunities possible. Dennis, having served in the Navy, greatly appreciates the upgrade in accommodations that MSC has to offer.
“Life at sea with MSC is a lot better compared to the Navy. I consider the accommodations I enjoy to be a great benefit. Having experienced the three tier racks with little or no privacy, I greatly appreciate my own personal stateroom with private shower and head. I have a television and can enjoy a variety of entertainment options.” It’s true that not all MSC CIVMARs have their own stateroom and head but Dennis’ situation is by no means unusual.
The hardest part for Dennis while at sea is the time away from his family. As a husband and father of two children staying in touch is very important. It’s no surprise that one of his favorite downtime activities is reading and writing emails to his wife and children. And while he does miss his family, he’s always considered the ship as his “home away from home”.
“My family will always come first. However, I do feel that I have a family onboard. My shipmates, whom I interact with on a daily basis, are like my family as I depend on them for many things. It’s comforting to know that they’re there for me.”
If you’re interested in a career that allows you to grow professionally and personally; one with job security and the benefits of federal civil service then it’s time for you to learn more about becoming a CIVMAR with Military Sealift Command.