OCTOBER 31, 2022 – Electrician’s Mate (Nuclear) 1st Class Caitlyn Brizzi was never supposed to join the Navy. As a member of her high school Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), her path was set for a different branch. At one point, she held the $200,000 Air Force ROTC scholarship check in her hand. The future was laid out for her to study engineering at the University of Illinois and then become an Air Force officer.
“I knew I wanted to go into an engineering program,” Brizzi said. “I went to the Air Force summer seminar at the Air Force academy during my junior year and thought ‘this is cool, maybe I’ll do chemical engineering or nuclear engineering.’”
But a local Navy recruiter talked to her about the nuclear program the Navy offered and Brizzi chose real world experience over college classes and a dorm room.
“I had a whole plan but if I don’t know what program I want to do and I think I want to do nuclear, I might as well do it in the real world,” Brizzi said. “That way I’m not wasting my money and I get real world experience before I decide to get a degree.”
She describes the Navy nuclear program as ‘the hardest thing’ she has ever done. That doesn’t mean that being a Navy recruiter is easy. While Brizzi chose recruiting so that she could learn new skills and do something outside of her standard job, it comes with its challenges.
“I get pretty tired and exhausted from having to talk to people,” Brizzi said. “Having to talk to people who don’t want to talk to me is not fun.”
Her success in recruiting comes from what she says to potential applicants. Brizzi wrote three contracts in September because her pitch isn’t really a pitch at all. She talks about the good, and the bad, because she wants people to get a whole picture of what the Navy has to offer. She wants those who are undecided about their future, or who are looking for more than a paycheck, to know the Navy can be the opportunity they didn’t know they were looking for.
“There’s a lot of people you’re going to talk to and they have no idea what they want to do and I think the best opportunity to figure out what you want to do is to join the Navy,” Brizzi said. ”People aren’t driven by money from what I’ve seen, they really just want experiences, so I talk a lot about my travels and things, but I also talk about the bad things. I think that makes people trust me instead of trying to make it look absolutely amazing, that there’s nothing that’s going to be wrong.”
The Navy, while a great experience, is not something she will do for an entire 20-year career. Brizzi has a plan to return to the civilian world after her time in Medford, Oregon, is complete and earn an engineering degree from the University of California at San Diego. Until the time comes for her to resume college classes, she touts the possibilities that the Navy has to offer.
For those who listen to her when she talks, she lets them know that, even if they have a plan, the Navy can be a rewarding path worth going down.
“I personally think the Navy is a great opportunity for everybody,” Brizzi said. “There’s so many avenues you can take you didn’t know you’d enjoy.”
Navy Recruiting Command consists of a command headquarters, three Navy Recruiting Regions and 26 Navy Talent Acquisition Groups that serve more than 1,000 recruiting stations across the world. Their combined goal is to attract the highest quality candidates to assure the ongoing success of America’s Navy.
Story by Daniel Rachal
Commander, Navy Recruiting Command