Thursday, October 30, 2014

MC Perspective: A tough reality

MCSR Lydia Charlet at the student detachment.

I haven't written about it much on my blog, but Mass Communication Specialist training can be pretty rough.  Most of us struggle with the 6-month long A school.  In terms of military schools, it's one of the longest and most demanding.  There's a reason Navy MCs are considered the highest-trained, most versatile of all the branches.

The reality is, not everyone makes it.  And the first half of school, the writing portion, is what knocks most Sailors out. 

MCSR Lydia Charlet just failed out of MC A School.  It's hit her hard, but she took the time to write in about the experience, and to give some advice for those of you on the way to the Defense Information School.

She's 18 years old.  I have no idea how I would've handled this kind of setback when I was that age.  It probably would've involved me curling up in a corner, sobbing and sucking on my thumb.

Volunteering at a HART dog adoption event.

CHARLET: For anyone interested in becoming a Mass Communication Specialist, I only have one bit of advice: make sure you want it 100 percent. MC A school is hard and the Defense Information School (DINFOS) is no joke. If MC was just a way to get away from being undesignated or being assigned some rate that didn't sound quite as appealing, please please please make sure that you're committed to MC. There are so many people that would do anything for that position, and you're lucky enough to get that seat in class. Don't take it for granted. 

 "...the Defense Information School is no joke."

I got tripped up in the second focus area (FA), which is feature writing. I'm not a bad writer.  It's always been one of my best subjects. I messed up on features because I took it for granted. I had been getting great feedback from my main instructor, so I felt good. I was confident I'd pass my final story.  I had two golden interviews from two senior chiefs. I had my online sources, my lead, conclusion, everything was perfect. 

"It was the mechanics that sank me."

I had missed commas, something without source attribution and paragraph separation problems.  And the most frustrating part is that all the mistakes were things that could have been fixed with no more than 30 extra minutes of editing.

Charlet and friends.

Needless to say I was devastated. When you fail an FA it's not necessarily the end all be all for your time at DINFOS. You get one recycle to an upcoming class if you are a good Sailor, keep up with your grades or at least show improvement and generally demonstrate the drive to do better if given a second chance. The entire school house recommended me for recycle, even my chain of command except the Officer In Charge (OIC). He denied my recycle because there was no spot open in the upcoming class and there was no way to hold me until a spot opened up.  That's because there's no way to know if someone is going to fail out or get recycled.

"My only option was to choose a new rate."

I met with different people in admin and collected my medical and dental records. A few days after leaving DINFOS I got the paperwork with the list of jobs I'm qualified for based on ASVAB scores. I picked Aerographer's Mate (AG) because I like science so why not be a meteorologist for the Navy.

Now that I am at AG A school in Mississippi I realize that MC really is the best job in the Navy. I fully intend to do my two years and then cross rate back to MC. I'm not the kind of person that's interested in doing a full 20 years in the Navy but I'd do 30 if it means that I can be an MC. I'd do anything. 

So just make sure, when looking at that rating sheet at MEPs or the recruiting station or wherever you may be that you want this rate. Those who get it are infinitely lucky in my opinion and I would trade the world to be back in that position.


Thank you for sharing your story with us Charlet.  Hang in there.

Monday, October 13, 2014


Photo by SSgt Chad Usher.
The best part of working at Defense Media Activity is all the cool gear we get to play, I mean work with.  This rail system means I can push forwards/backwards and left/right in a nice smooth Hollywood manner.

In the video below, I used the slider for the shot on the couch.

(On a side note, the Orioles better win tonight.)

Photo by SSgt Chad Usher.

 It's not mechanized.

Just crank the wheel and the camera moves along the track.

Photo by me.

MC1 Laird noticed the wistful look I got every time someone talked about jib shots, so he showed me how to use it.  The travel jib is another piece of gear that's stupid easy to use, but adds a professional look.

It's basically a miniature crane.  The pole extends and hooks onto a tripod.  Then you can move the camera up and down.

Don't be me.  Make sure you have a compatible tripod before you get to the shoot.

The proud creator.  Photo by me.

And then there's the Sailors that just invent their own stuff.  MC2 Kevin Steinberg attached a SKATE DOLLY to this camera.  Brilliant.


I've got some dog rescue photos to put up, as soon as I figure out how to convert them from the raw format I received them in.  Not having Photoshop on this computer sucks.