At age 21, Specialist Jonathan Schmidt has already pursued three different career fields and served in Afghanistan. The North Dakota native started his Army National Guard career in horizontal construction engineering, moved to combat engineering, and is now about to train to be a Recruiter.
Of course, this multi-talented, rapid-fire career trajectory is what you might expect from a guy who got his first job at age 14 and really enjoys a challenge.
But the path to success wasn’t always clear-cut for this Soldier. SPC Schmidt believes he could have gone down a “dark path” after a few brushes with the law in his youth, or turned into “that guy who stays at home and becomes a bum.”
But then he saw what the Reserve Component had done for his older brother, with whom he’d always competed.
“I wanted that camaraderie and those friendships, too,” he said. “The Guard made me believe there was something more out there.”
SPC Schmidt’s first choice of a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) was a natural for a young man who grew up in the Great Plains around a lot of farmland and oilfields.
MOS 12N Horizontal Construction Engineer teaches Soldiers to use heavy machinery to excavate land, level earth for construction projects, and clear out debris. Or, as SPC Schmidt says, “dirt moving and ’dozers. It’s the perfect job skill to bring back to the civilian world.”
These skills came in quite handy in his home state, especially in 2011, when much of North Dakota had been declared a disaster area due to severe flooding of the Missouri and Red rivers.
SPC Schmidt and the rest of 815th Engineer Company went from one town to the next building dikes and filling sandbags.
After those challenges were met, he was asked by a friend and fellow Soldier to volunteer for a deployment in Afghanistan. That meant training for something a little different – MOS 12B Combat Engineer – Construction and Engineering Specialist – in other words, learning how to make obstacles for the enemy, from installing concertina wire to blowing up bridges.
At the same time this change in occupations was occurring in 2012, another opportunity had presented itself. Because the Guard offers money for college, SPC Schmidt, who grew up cooking with his grandmother, had previously applied to a culinary school and found out he’d been accepted. But having already made the commitment to go to Afghanistan with the 815th, he turned it down.
There are culinary MOSs available in the Guard, but SPC Schmidt says if he was going to be deployed, he wanted to be on the front lines rather than in the kitchen.
“I always knew I wanted to deploy. It feels like my duty to do something for my country.”
Now that he’s back in the States, SPC Schmidt is switching gears yet again and is moving into recruiting.
“I always had the gift to talk to people, and I wanted to do something with my talent.”
As a Recruiter, SPC Schmidt will be helping new recruits decide what their MOSs will be. But that doesn’t mean his career trajectory is headed for a permanent plateau. He loves that there’s a “whole list” of MOSs to choose from and thinks about joining the Special Forces one day.
If you want to see the “whole list” of job opportunities available in the Guard, visit the Army National Guard jobs board and contact a Recruiter today (perhaps even SPC Schmidt when he finishes his training — if you happen to be in North Dakota, that is).