PS First Draft....Feedback Appreciated

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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thementor31337
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PS First Draft....Feedback Appreciated

Postby thementor31337 » Sat Oct 23, 2010 4:59 pm

Based on the feedback that I recieved in another thread, I chose to write a PS draft on the impact of the suicide of one of my superiors in the military. It is a bit long (1000 words), but it was hard to paint the picture accurately without the length. My top choice doesn't have a length minimum or maximum, so even though it's a bit long, it could still work. Any advice is appreciated!

It was towards the end of a particularly grueling Monday in January, and I was busy preparing for an inspection by the Marine Corps Administrative Audit Team as well as for the most challenging group of student officers that are instructed at The Basic School were due to report in a few days. As my officer-in-charge called for everyone’s attention, I looked up from my computer screen and saw that the Sergeant Major and Chaplain were accompanying him. The solemn looks on their faces told me that something serious had happened and I was about to receive bad news. My officer-in-charge announced that our recently departed Sergeant, Sergeant Barrera, had committed suicide over the weekend. Immediately, I broke down in tears at the thought that someone I had respected, looked up to, and worked closely with over the past six months had chosen to end his own life with what seemed like no provocation. In those days after the news, I was devastated and could not understand why a stellar Marine who was being promoted to Staff Sergeant on February 1st would end his own life. I was not provided with many details regarding the actual events surrounding Sergeant Barrera’s suicide, nor the method in which he took his own life. The lack of information provided after his suicide was nearly as upsetting as the news itself.

Sergeant Barrera came to work at The Basic School Administration Center in July 2009 and was appointed to the billet of Staff Non-Commissioned Officer-in-Charge. He was to manage our small office of six Marines and ensure that everything was running smoothly. At the time I was a Lance Corporal and at first we butted heads because I had been working in the office for two years and felt our office procedures were working well, but he had ideas for changing things in hope of a better working environment and increased productivity. After many conversations outside the office, I came to respect him not only as a person, but as my supervisor. Towards the end of August, he notified me that I was selected for promotion to Corporal, a promotion I had been chasing for the last year and a half. As he congratulated me on my selection, he stated that I would be an outstanding Non-Commissioned Officer. On September 1, 2009 I was promoted to the rank of Corporal with Sergeant Barrera standing to my side to help pin on a new rank insignia on my uniform. After the ceremony, he presented me with a Corporal coin which is symbolic of achievement in the Marine Corps, as well as the book The Gift of Valor by Michael Phillips in which he wrote “I hope this book inspires you to be the best Corporal you can be not just for you, but for your Marines.” I took this statement to heart and tried in the months that followed to be the best Corporal I could be with Sergeant Barrera as my example. Sergeant Barrera unexpectedly received orders to report to another area of our base meaning that he would be leaving our office after only six months of leadership. He was less than thrilled about the transfer, but reminded me that the needs of the Marine Corps trump all others. This left me to command our office as the senior enlisted Marine, which was a daunting task for a newly promoted Corporal. Due to the leadership example that Sergeant Barrera set for me, I was able to successfully manage five junior Marines in his absence. After he departed, we communicated on a regular basis and he often provided me with valuable advice on leading Marines and how to deal with difficult situations.

When I heard the news of Sergeant Barrera’s suicide, I was shocked that the Non-Commissioned Officer that I looked up to for leadership advice would take his own life. Often we participated in group discussions about suicide and it was him that always stressed that suicide was never a solution. In the aftermath, the junior Marines looked to me for strength and leadership. I provided the best leadership that I could given the circumstances. Less than a week after Sergeant Barrera’s suicide, the most challenging group of student officers that The Basic School instructs each year reported for duty. I was able to manage these student officers flawlessly and provide them with excellent customer service. In addition to dealing with an especially difficult group of student officers, the Marine Corps Administrative Audit Team was due to inspect the office in February. Using the knowledge and leadership that Sergeant Barrera imparted on me, I was able to lead the Marines through a successful inspection which led to a Certificate of Excellence for the command as well as a by-name mention of my performance to The Basic School Commanding Officer during the post inspection brief. The results of this inspection were in stark contrast to the dismal performance of the office during an inspection two years prior. At the conclusion of the inspection, I made a point to say to the junior Marines that Sergeant Barrera would be proud of us. In addition to an outstanding performance during the inspection, I was able to ensure the successful administration of the challenging student officer class which later earned me a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Award.

Sergeant Barrera’s leadership provided me with invaluable advice and examples on which I could base my military leadership style. His death only enforced those values that he imparted on me and made me want to exemplify them even more. Although he chose to take his own life for reasons I will never understand, he provided me with mentorship and leadership that continues to live on in the leadership of my junior Marines. I believe the leadership principles that Sergeant Barrera taught me will also guide me in my study of law. The leadership traits and dedicated work ethic that Sergeant Barrera imparted on me contributed to my success as a Non-Commissioned Officer in the United States Marine Corps and it will also contribute to my success as a student of law at X Law School.

tourdeforcex
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Re: PS First Draft....Feedback Appreciated

Postby tourdeforcex » Sat Oct 23, 2010 5:07 pm

i think your PS is good. most definitely personal and well-written.

one thing an audience would be curious about is why law school is for you. if you could incorporate some kind of hint to that, that could make the PS better. however, i think it works w/o it also.

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thementor31337
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Re: PS First Draft....Feedback Appreciated

Postby thementor31337 » Sat Oct 23, 2010 7:37 pm

tourdeforcex wrote:i think your PS is good. most definitely personal and well-written.

one thing an audience would be curious about is why law school is for you. if you could incorporate some kind of hint to that, that could make the PS better. however, i think it works w/o it also.


Thanks for the feedback. I don't know how I could connect why law school is for me with the subject matter without disconnecting from the main topic. I've always thought about law school, but I never really thought it was attainable until this point in my life. I feel like now I can really go for it, whereas when I was younger, I felt anything like this was way out of my league. The Marine Corps definitely helped my confidence in this area, and because of the military I feel like I have the confidence to take on pretty much anything.

tourdeforcex
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Re: PS First Draft....Feedback Appreciated

Postby tourdeforcex » Sat Oct 23, 2010 8:26 pm

respect.

a small tactical suggestion:

for "My officer-in-charge announced that our recently departed Sergeant, Sergeant Barrera, had committed suicide over the weekend." Consider removing "our recently departed Sergeant," to shift the emphasis for a stronger sentence.

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thementor31337
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Re: PS First Draft....Feedback Appreciated

Postby thementor31337 » Sat Oct 23, 2010 8:51 pm

tourdeforcex wrote:respect.

a small tactical suggestion:

for "My officer-in-charge announced that our recently departed Sergeant, Sergeant Barrera, had committed suicide over the weekend." Consider removing "our recently departed Sergeant," to shift the emphasis for a stronger sentence.


Again, thanks for the feeback. After re-reading that sentence, it seems like removing that part would strengthen the sentence especially since I explain later on that he left the office. Also, two Sergeants in once sentence might be a bit much.

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NorCalBruin
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Re: PS First Draft....Feedback Appreciated

Postby NorCalBruin » Sat Oct 23, 2010 11:04 pm

The first sentence is too long... there's just too much in it. Try thinking of something that would hook the reader in the first few words. If that's not possible, at least just break it up a little.

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2014
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Re: PS First Draft....Feedback Appreciated

Postby 2014 » Sun Oct 24, 2010 2:03 am

It's pretty lengthy and at points I think you give more information than you need to effectively make your point. Just read through it with a critical eye and try to think whether any given sentence or whatnot is needed to tell the story you are telling. There are points where you get close to shifting the focus off of you, and while you obviously want to glorify your Sergeant and show how he influenced you, make sure the focus stays on you and what you bring to the table or how you were influenced.

Also I wouldn't refer to what you do with Student Officers as "Customer Service" that makes me think you were manning a call center or a desk answering questions whereas I think you did something of more active training than that, and at the very least customers isn't the best word to describe their relationship to you anyways.

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thementor31337
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Re: PS First Draft....Feedback Appreciated

Postby thementor31337 » Sun Oct 24, 2010 12:00 pm

2014 wrote:It's pretty lengthy and at points I think you give more information than you need to effectively make your point. Just read through it with a critical eye and try to think whether any given sentence or whatnot is needed to tell the story you are telling. There are points where you get close to shifting the focus off of you, and while you obviously want to glorify your Sergeant and show how he influenced you, make sure the focus stays on you and what you bring to the table or how you were influenced.

Also I wouldn't refer to what you do with Student Officers as "Customer Service" that makes me think you were manning a call center or a desk answering questions whereas I think you did something of more active training than that, and at the very least customers isn't the best word to describe their relationship to you anyways.


Sadly, customer service is exactly what I provide. I am manning a desk 11 hours a day usually. I work in the administration office, so literally all I do all day is answer questions and handle paperwork. I got assigned a different MOS than what I contracted for, so I am basically a secretary/bookkeeper in uniform. I definitely joined with the intentions of being in a more active MOS, but the "needs of the Marine Corps" came first. I've done the best that I can at the job. Although having prior experience working in an office (insurance agent) for several years gave me a leg up on the type of work I do in the military.

tourdeforcex
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Re: PS First Draft....Feedback Appreciated

Postby tourdeforcex » Sun Oct 24, 2010 2:14 pm

Sadly, customer service is exactly what I provide. I am manning a desk 11 hours a day usually. I work in the administration office, so literally all I do all day is answer questions and handle paperwork. I got assigned a different MOS than what I contracted for, so I am basically a secretary/bookkeeper in uniform. I definitely joined with the intentions of being in a more active MOS, but the "needs of the Marine Corps" came first. I've done the best that I can at the job. Although having prior experience working in an office (insurance agent) for several years gave me a leg up on the type of work I do in the military.


Let's just keep that information on anonymous internet forums. Definitely find a better way to spin that if it is scrutinized in interviews, which I don't think will happen. Either way, there is no reason to apologize or be apologetic about the Corps putting you where you are. It is. We've accepted and now move forward. People apologize too much these days. If you wake up in the morning and can respect yourself, you can walk straight down the street without bending for anyone else.

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thementor31337
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Re: PS First Draft....Feedback Appreciated

Postby thementor31337 » Sun Oct 24, 2010 2:22 pm

tourdeforcex wrote:
Sadly, customer service is exactly what I provide. I am manning a desk 11 hours a day usually. I work in the administration office, so literally all I do all day is answer questions and handle paperwork. I got assigned a different MOS than what I contracted for, so I am basically a secretary/bookkeeper in uniform. I definitely joined with the intentions of being in a more active MOS, but the "needs of the Marine Corps" came first. I've done the best that I can at the job. Although having prior experience working in an office (insurance agent) for several years gave me a leg up on the type of work I do in the military.


Let's just keep that information on anonymous internet forums. Definitely find a better way to spin that if it is scrutinized in interviews, which I don't think will happen. Either way, there is no reason to apologize or be apologetic about the Corps putting you where you are. It is. We've accepted and now move forward. People apologize too much these days. If you wake up in the morning and can respect yourself, you can walk straight down the street without bending for anyone else.


I can definitely spin the information, however, the above is the honest truth. And to top it off, my MOS (admin) is getting phased out and replaced by civilian workers so even if I wanted to re-enlist, I wouldn't be able to because of the scale down. Not just for LS admissions, but in general, I wish I had been able to have a more "active" military career as opposed to spending 4+ yrs on a non-deployable training base. However, I've done the best with the hand I was dealt, and I'll be moving on at the end of my contract.

I wanted to try and stress my military service because, even though I'm a desk jockey/POG, it still shows that I was willing to do something that most aren't.




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