Career paths: from top chef to Airborne Ranger to security specialist

Career paths: from top chef to Airborne Ranger to security specialist

As you get ready to leave high school, you may feel pressure to focus on a particular career path. But life after graduation can be a time to explore, experience different jobs, and discover opportunities. Career Web sites like, careerbuilder.com, estimate that a person will have up to five careers in his or her lifetime.

Mark Jones, 42, is a great example of a person whose career path has taken many rewarding turns. Growing up in Biloxi, Mississippi, Jones studied business at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. When his wife suffered an aneurysm, Jones found his family in a difficult financial situation. Needing to earn money, Jones went down to his local Army recruiter and signed up. He began his military career as a cook, and quickly developed a reputation as a great chef. He even competed in ice-carving around the world, At the same time, Jones went to “jump school” to become an Airborne Ranger.

“I got over my fear of heights fast,” says Jones. He logged over 3,600 jumps and quickly rose through the ranks. He reached the top of his career when he became Senior Aide to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After leaving the military, Jones opened a security business (QuickServices LLC at www.quickservices.com) with three other veterans. The firm is now doing a brisk business providing training for the Department of Homeland Security, security consulting, and executive protection services.

“No matter what direction you take in life, knowledge is power,” says Jones. “Education has always been the key to getting ahead in life.”

COMBAT IDENTIFY THEFT

While some students go to college to find their identifies, a growing number have theirs stolen. Identify theft is the fraudulent use of your name and identifying data to obtain merchandise or services. To protect yourself, Consumer Reports offers these tips:

* Shred papers that you throw away that display your Social Security number, birth date, and account numbers.

* Opt out of information-sharing at your financial institution.

* Beware of strange ATMs–they can be rigged to skim data off your bank card.

For more tips, visit ConsumerReports.org.

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