My reasons for joining changed a few times before I actually started. Initially it was a way to pay for college. I got an ROTC scholarship since I really couldn't afford the college I selected. Two years in I got sick and rapidly fell behind in school. I decided changing majors was my best option. Unfortunately my scholarship didn't transfer. I still liked what I was doing in ROTC and there were some unique options within the Military for my major that I liked so I decided to continue. Closing on graduation, I thought I had everything figured out. I had one place I wanted to be stationed. I knew the person I was likely to replace was rotating within weeks of me graduating. And it was close to where my then girlfriend lived. Then the day before I was commissioned I heard the phrase most of us hear at least once in their career. "The needs of the Military come first". All of a sudden I was headed to a place I had never heard of to do something that had nothing to do with anything I had learned in the past 4 years.
It didn't make sense at the time but in retrospect but it set a lot of things in motion. First - Military Intelligence really isn't an oxymoron. It's largely about creative problem solving which really was sort of at the core of what I learned in college. Most people's experience in the military involved following the rules. Mine was more about finding new ways to do things. I'm very good at finding solutions to things that others have thought to be impossible. Unfortunately most of my stories are classified.
As a result I've almost always set, if not controlled, my own path. I don't always succeed, but I continue to move forward with ideas or projects even if I don't have all the details. In the words of my first boss - "the only difference between you and the expert is the expert has slides".
I joined to avoid college and working in the family business. The military provided me with structure I was lacking, responsibility I was avoiding, and confidence I had not developed. The training and experience from the military, that was independent of my particular 'job', has and continues to directly impact everything that I do.