Deloitte, Veterans, and Advisors, thank you for taking the time to assist transitioning service members! I am one year from retirement from the Army and plan to enter the accounting field. I understand that I will need to change on a fundamental level, but I'm not sure what "bad habits" I have. What are some of the military habits that will interfere with my interview process and integration into the corporate environment? I am specifically looking at the norms within the accounting and audit community.
Thank you for your service and your question. I wouldn't say there are "bad habits," but there is a cultural shift when switching to the private sector. The transition from active service to private sector can come with a few frustrations, usually around understanding the different management structure, the need for networking, and how performance is evaluated. When interviewing for positions, culture is an important component to look at for you to find the best fit for yourself. While switching to almost any corporate environment will be different from the military environment, the cultures of each company can vary. Specifically from an integration into the corporate environment perspective, the best advice is to remember that asking questions is always a good way to go. Deloitte has veteran-focused groups that discuss questions that veterans have such as how to network effectively, how to approach seeking new projects or opportunities within the company, and any frustrations veterans face when first navigating the corporate environment. These areas vary from military service in that it is more self-driven. Looking for and participating in similar groups could provide support and answers to common questions on corporate environment. If no such group exists, a mentor within the company, whether a veteran or not, could provide insight into how the company operates and give advice on how to successfully navigate the corporate environment. Veterans provide great experience and positive qualities, such as a great work ethic, leadership, training, and discipline that actually give you an edge. I wouldn’t consider the habits you have from the military to be a negative - it is just a matter how to best use the training and qualities to successfully integrate into a company.
This is an excellent question. I can speak from my own personal experience, as a former Marine Corps officer who transitioned to the consulting field.
I wouldn't say there are ever 'bad' habits. Instead of emphasizing 'bad' habits, let's focus on behaviors you'll want to adopt instead. I'll list a few things that were particularly helpful for me:
-Take initiative and be proactive! Never be afraid to reach out to someone and ask questions about what they do.
-Embrace networking and making personal/professional connections. Networking is a semi-foreign concept to the military community, but it is critical to success in the corporate world. Many service members network now without even realizing it. Any contact you have with your personnel manager/detailer/monitor regarding future duty assignments is technically networking so that you can influence your career's trajectory. So just keep that in mind!
-Communication. Instead of telling people to do/execute tasks, just ask them to do it instead. Also, be sure to ask their opinion on matters. It goes a long way with building a positive team working environment. I struggled with this at first, so I made a point of focusing on it in my own personal development.
Happy to help further! Let me know what other questions you have. And thank you for everything you've done for our Nation.
I believe there are two main challenges and I'm sure others will chime in as well...the first is relating to communication and the second around hierarchy. Communication is absolutely critical to success in almost every corporate position. The veterans that I work with frequently have to learn a new language when entering the corporate world and learn how to translate some of their military jargon into terms that others can identify with and understand. Acronyms are killers - even in Deloitte we are guilty of this! Also, switching from an environment where there is a clear chain of command to an environment where tasks may be divided up sometimes in a strange way with lower level professionals taking ownership of a task or having multiple people to whom you report can at times be confusing and frustrating. For years I've tried to explain that I don't really have a boss. Individual accountability and drive are also keys to success here. Partner that with networking at all levels and you are on the path to the top. Happy to have a conversation or further the discussion.
Hi Christopher and thank you for serving. From my own experience in interviewing service members/veterans I will tell you to be sure to explain any experiences you have that relate to the field you are trying for and make sure that you do not use acronyms or military terminology as the civilians will very likely not understand what you are talking about. I would instead highlight your leadership skills and mission accomplishment skills that come as a part of your military service and show how they would help the prospective employer accomplish their business objectives. If possible research the company online prior to going for the interview and if possible the branch/section where the job openings are so that you can show how you could easily fit into the company and further their objectives. If possible practice with some "mock interviews" which are often available at local colleges(especially if you are enrolled) of via friends at the VSOs such as the legion or VFW. These organizations have service officers in every state that can put you in touch with organizations that can help you prepare for interview. Good Luck.
I think Julia, Maggie, and Dan all made great points. In addition, I would like to provide a link to an article written by a Deloitte practitioner who transitioned from the military to the private sector that highlights some of the challenges he faced. I hope you find this article as helpful as the advice above, and most importantly, thank you for your service to our country!
Hi Christopher, thank YOU for your service… I think my colleagues have provided excellent responses on the “transitions” from military to corporate. I would like to offer a civilian’s point of view having worked amongst veterans; I think that “bad habits” is a bit of a misnomer. From my experience, veterans have the discipline team members rely on tight project timelines; commitment to execution and delivering quality work product; and the straightforward communication skills that Deloitte stresses and cultivates in all of our talent. I suppose the purpose of my post is to highlight the many “good habits” that veterans have, based on my experiences, so in addition to the other suggestions, to accentuate and recognize all of the things you are already doing correctly.
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