Tips to tackle our EPME (Part 2) – the NCO academy ‘experience’

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith
  • I.G. Brown Training and Education Center

Editor’s note: this is the second article in a series with tips on completing Air Force professional military education.

Following Airman leadership school, NCO academy is a U.S. Air Force Airman’s next step in Enlisted Professional Military Education (EPME) required to advance.

Airmen in this group earned rank and responsibility, from senior airman through staff sergeant, and then to technical sergeant. Becoming a senior NCO, as a master sergeant, is ahead.

After Course 15 online study and exams, Airman attend the Intermediate Leadership Experience (ILE) at a professional military education center to complete their NCO academy EPME. Five-week ILE attendance allows students to apply what they learned, said officials at the Air National Guard’s I.G. Brown Training and Education Center. That full learning process makes them “EPME complete.”


TEC has the largest and longest running EPME in the Air Force – the Chief Master Sergeant Paul H. Lankford EPME Center. Master Sgt. Jeela S. Taylor, an instruction systems development developer and instructor assigned to TEC, said that ILE is a demanding but rewarding assignment for those up to the challenge. ILE provides Airmen the means to encounter others in their EPME application, Taylor said.


Taylor’s tips here support your success after Course 15 self-study to attend ILE’s team building, critical thinking, communications and networking:




1. Break out of your shell


ILE classroom diversity requires you to hear and understand different perspectives and experiences. Feedback is a critical part of ILE, so embrace it, Taylor said. This might sound easy, but classmates will speak with you from an active duty, Reserve, National Guard, or even an international viewpoint, not to mention from more common differences in culture, experience, gender, age, and career field. “Feedback is one of the biggest components,” Taylor said. “You have to be willing to give feedback, which takes courage in sharing, and you have to receive feedback, which requires openness.” 







2.  Are you keeping your mind open?


Much success at NCOA ILE relies on the student's ability to self-reflect and be self-aware. Some Airmen find ILE unlike other military education or college. You might hear something about yourself that you did not realize, Taylor said. Some of that information is uplifting; however, some feedback may need more personal reflection. “The idea is that you listen to how others perceive you,” Taylor said. “Having an open mind is realizing that you don’t know everything, so you learn.”







3. Arrive equipped and able


Arriving without an electronic device with word processing, PDF ability and the ability to connect it to the internet through Wi-Fi can add to the demands of ILE, Taylor said. There’s a lot of homework and classwork done in the cloud. Not being able to do that puts you behind. So meet the requirements in the Student Guide before attendance.






 4. Take it seriously 


For some, PME is mistakenly thought of as a vacation or a getaway, Taylor said. But for those more smartly motivated, PME assignments are a once in a lifetime opportunity. “Give the same 100 percent to your PME as you would your regular job,” Taylor said. “For five weeks you are paid to go to go school. Be ‘all in’ every day.”






5. Exercise time management 


Leonardo Da Vinci said, “Time stays long enough for those who use it.” In that regard, keep track of your time. Prioritize your day according to the academic schedule. “Develop a consistent routine for studying,” Taylor said. “You don’t want to hand in sloppy work.” Although the days pass by fast, that month-and-a-half is also too long to manage without proper rest, diet and exercise.






6. Decide to attend


TEC’s staff said that the skills studied in Course 15 are better gained in your career through applying them through ILE. Read the flyer “Experienced Based Development Equipping Today’s Leaders for Tomorrow’s Needs,” linked at this webpage, to find out why you should attend or support another Airman’s attendance, then watch the video above, and linked here, on NCOA ILE to learn more.