Job Title: Military Analyst
Type of Company: My company has three divisions, including the military division I work in that supports training and conducts tests and evaluates projects for the Department of Defense. We both observe and take part in training activities conducted by the military and analyze data for them.
Education: BS, St. Cloud State University MA, U.S. Naval War College
Previous Experience: I spent thirty years as an aviator in the US Navy and later worked as a flight officer for two major airlines.
Job Tasks: My company gets contracts to evaluate the performance of aviation ordnance being bought by the Navy and Marine Corps. To do this, we gather information about the components of the weapons, the suspension equipment used to attach them to the aircraft and the systems used to fire them. We also scrutinize and evaluate aircraft systems and the software used to operate them.
When a weapon fails to hit its target or to detonate, we analyze telemetry to see why the failure occurred. Getting answers is critical, but the process of elimination by which we arrive at those answers can be painstaking, and it's only by ruling out the failures that might've occurred (but didn't) that we often come up with the cause. In the end, though, analysis can only be as good as the data we've gathered. Bad or incomplete data can lead to erroneous conclusions.
Data analysis is frequently tedious and mundane and the conditions we work under are sometimes trying. Persistence and thoroughness are the keys to success here.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the work is determining the cause of an ordnance failure and finding ways to fix it. The satisfaction of knowing I've done a good job is far more gratifying to me than getting praised.
The worst part of my job is the tedium and repetitiveness of the work. Sometimes it's hard to overcome the temptation to take a short-cut.
1.) As boring as the task may be, work through it. Be thorough. Short-cuts will only undermine your results.
2.) Don't come up with an answer to the problem until you've looked at and appraised all its facets.
3.) "Undetermined" is an acceptable conclusion when all other possibilities have been exhausted.
Additional Thoughts: The data collection and analysis efforts associated with my particular job will require some significant military or engineering experience to make you a viable candidate. There are other data collection and analysis jobs that require similar mind sets and skills, but less experience. In all of them, though, there are things to keep in mind: 1. Sample size is important, but the validity of the sample data is paramount. 2. Tedium is the enemy of thoroughness when doing a repetitive task. Don't take short-cuts. 3. Data analysis will always lead to a conclusion. When you reverse the process, collecting data to support an assumption, you'll overlook something crucial. 4. The obvious conclusion isn't always the right one....but it's not a bad bet! See Occam's Razor, just for fun.
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