One Candidate’s Lessons Learned for OSOs

My Story

My first application, which was unsuccessful, was in 2012 with a 273 PFT and with the same exact recommendations/letters/reason-for-joining/waivers/etc.

"Ready | Join U.S. Marines," Gary Borkan poster
“Ready | Join U.S. Marines,” Gary Borkan poster

My second visit into the office was March 2015 and it was with a new Captain and Staff Sergeant, but the same civilian secretary. Instantly, the secretary vouched for me and praised me, telling everyone in the office that I was the “perfect gentlemen,” proclaiming how he enjoyed my previous collaboration.

I sat down with the Captain to go over my options and he asked when I would do my first PFT: “How about next week,” he said. I agreed, since from the beginning I made it my goal to never turn him down.

That PFT was 14 Pulls/ 80 Crunches/ 23:55 Run – terrible. Within 2 months, I dropped 20lbs and I was doing 20/100/21:00 and my final PFT came out to 285 with 20/100/20:22.

My Best Practices

  1. I met my OSO in/around March of this year, but the OSO office staff was familiar with me and my application (previous and current) once I walked in the door. He was very accepting from the beginning and very willing to get me back into the process.
  2. From walking in the door I treated every experience like an interview:
    1. 10-15 minutes early
    2. Acknowledge and greet the secretary
    3. Stand until asked to be seated
    4. Read something that is there and wait for the Captain or instructions on what to do.
    5. The first time I went there, in March, I wore a suit and tie. The second time I was there for a PFT, so PFT clothes. The third and fourth times I was there was to go over paperwork, so generally business casual or a shirt/tie.
    6. Never really any formal interviews, but I think the Captain and rest of the office learned what they wanted to know when we sat together. Every time I was there it was “yes, sir” or “no, sir” and “excuse me; may I ask a question.” I don’t think I know or have the secret recipe, but being respectful, punctual and real seemed to resonate with them. They want to make sure you’re not socially unfit or incompetent so any opportunity to talk or greet or meet someone I capitalized on.

Recommended Questions

JUNIOR_RANK_POSTERS_18X24.inddThe questions that I recommend to ask are questions that make them see that you are interested:

  • Pay and promotions
  • Why did you join?
  • Which path do you recommend for me?
  • What would you change about your career in retrospect?
  • What are other applicants’ PFT scores? Try to gauge what your competition is like (make them know or see that you’re hungry)
  • Is there anything I can do to help? I would ask this every time I was there: Can I help organize anything; can I get a group together for PFT; can I get an email group together?
  • I would always ask “so am I waiting for you to get back to me or should I reach out to you; and when.”
  • Ask what they recommend for improving your run time or pull-ups
  • Timeline of OCS-TBS-MOS school and how long each are and how they work.

Big Picture OSO

The OSO office seems like a grind. The office depends on the applicant being self-motivated and educated. If you have questions they will gladly answer them but I think that there are so many applicants and so much information to just freely explain or offer that they would be there all day talking about it.

I recommend asking questions that you can’t answer online and utilizing their time to answer specific/intimate questions:

  • Pay
  • Timeline at OCS/TBS/MOS school
  • What numbers the Marines are looking for in recruiting
  • Acceptance rate of last class
  • The biggest question I asked my Captain is if he recommended going active or reserve, and why? He recommended Reserves for me because they had a higher acceptance rate versus the active duty applicants.

Towards the end of the process, if selected, they will provide you with all the necessary tools and paperwork and forms.

In Closing

Hopefully this helps give another perspective on the OSO relationship to others. Feel free to comment below with questions or your own experiences!

9 thoughts on “One Candidate’s Lessons Learned for OSOs

  1. Thank you for the great info! When would you recommend scheduling to speak with an OSO? I am graduating in 8 months and am trying to plan a timeline for myself in getting everything together.

    Thank you in advance!

  2. I just spoke to an OSO and asked her questions in regards to a tattoo i have on my hand and age limitations. She told me about all the waivering that would have to be done but the bottom line is that she wont be able to work with me unless the tattoo on my hand is removed completely. I am in the process of getting it removed currently so it’ll take some time. She asked me to keep her updated on the process. What would be the best option for keeping her updated so that she doesn’t forget me, consdiering im not exactly a candidate as of yet?

  3. I had shoulder surgery five years ago from a wrestling match. It healed completed and I went on to wrestle in college. Any insight on applying for OCS needing that kind of waiver? Are those waivers usually granted?

    1. If you’re going to do a PFT with your OSO, wear modest and comfortable fitness clothing, perhaps layered depending on the weather. If you’re interviewing with an OSO, roughly business casual would work great.

      1. How often can one apply for O.C.S?? Say I apply and get rejected how long do I have to wait until I can apply again?

      2. It’s really more up to your OSO and their recommendation. You can definitely apply multiple times. By then you will know if it’s a realistic goal for you or not.

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