History and the Forces by Tavis Harris

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One of the great perks of working through LCMSDS is the faculty and staffs’ varied work experiences.  Roger Sarty, my advisor always encouraged me to look outside of the ‘normal’ streams for employment for a doctoral candidate.  So I did.  A couple years ago I decided to take the plunge and join the Canadian Forces.  I thought my Masters degree and ongoing doctoral work may be of some use and it was a pleasant surprise that it actually was.

I chose to join the Navy as an intelligence officer (a little bias from Roger I suppose, but I have always had an affinity for the senior service and an equal desire to keep my beard), where academic research skills proved to be of great worth.  You are constantly faced with masses of material which you need to analyse, synthesise and create your own interpretation to brief others.  This isn’t only for trade-specific work, but also general unit work.  Thanks to my background I had the opportunity to work on the Unit Historical Report (I had seen many of these during my research) and some opportunity to assist with Naval Centennial plans.  To my mind this is very similar to my tasks in the civilian sphere – research, report writing and public speaking.  All of these core skills are requirements I gained from years of poring over books/old documents and then going to talk about the findings in front of a room full of people who then get to grill you over your interpretation.

My experience in the forces has also provided me with many useful academic connections with professors across the country and even internationally.  To a large extent one side strongly supports the other and while it’s certainly not for everyone, I love what I do and wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Tavis Harris is a PhD Candidate at Wilfrid Laurier University and a student associate of the LCMSDS



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