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I need help balancing what I am truly passionate about and leveraging the skills and experience I've gained in the past 25+ years on active duty.


Jack Leech Fairfax, VA

There are certain jobs that I would do for free because I get so much satisfaction out of them. However, I am trying to determine if I should stay in the career field I know the best (healthcare and information technology) in order to make more money or if I should follow my heart and work in a field (say manufacturing) that I enjoy more. There is no simple answer but simply looking for some feedback/opinions from the AdvisorNet.

15 November 2018 3 replies Military to Civilian Transition



John Stammreich San Pedro, CA

Hello Jack - you're struggling with the same dilemma many of us face once we become subject matter experts in areas that may not be the most enjoyable but are in high demand and pay well. It really comes down to where your balance is - as the father of two and husband to an entrepreneur starting a new business, I am currently in the position of performing roles that I am both very good at and can justify my salary. (I'm not rolling in dough, but I'm paid well). Once my wife has got her new business going and my daughters don't mind me taking more time in the office to learn and perform a higher position, I'll likely be accepting one of the recurring offers I get to expand my experience into other areas of my company in order to prepare me for executive management someday.

My question is whether you truly know that you would enjoy manufacturing based on experience, or if its more because it's something new from healthcare and IT. My hunch is that, if you search enough, there many be a hybrid opportunity that combines those industries with the manufacturing function.

Good luck!

15 November 2018 Helpful answer


Curtis Hays Castle Rock, CO

Hi Colonel,

My opinion is to move to a company that has both. You'll get in easier doing what you know best and establish yourself as someone that can do a great job solving problems, build a network that stretches into the manufacturing side, and opportunities will come up. This means working at a large company but with your experience, most large companies are looking for people like you.

15 November 2018 Helpful answer


Tim deCordova Melbourne, FL

Hello Jack
I understand your situation, as I have faced it several times. The good thing is there is no right or wrong answer, ultimately it is about happiness and fulfillment. Leaving salary agnostic for this feedback, I have taken on several roles and assignments based on skill sets that I was highly proficient at, but found myself bored and not fulfilled. Yet those roles gave me valuable experience. I found this as a binary choice: Do I want to enjoy going to work everyday and the pay comes later, or do I stick to what I know, because in my case they weren't the same.

Ultimately, I chose to take roles I found that I liked, took a few lumps along the way but found it very rewarding. If you look at my profile you will see my career fields are all over the map. The biggest challenge I faced was positioning myself for the different career paths. You have to be able to communicate your background and education and how it can be leveraged into a new role. What is in your skill set that can fill the needs of the hiring manager? (Rhetorical). Putting that in written form on your resume is critical. In addition prepare to discuss how you can fill a role of need when speaking with the hiring team. I am a veterans advisor at my company, and many times the civilian sector can get a stove pipe way of thinking by not recognizing the talent of applicants because they don't understand how their backgrounds could be leveraged. Its up to you to inform them. I find that most companies WANT to hire a veteran but remember, in my experience, they aren't hiring COL Leech, they are hiring Jack Leech, the guy that is highly skilled in x,y,z and can leverage his experience in a,b,c to solve a need for a particular position. The leadership, training and experience as a Colonel is a bonus.
And finally, I highly recommend you grow a network of folks in the areas of interest. I found this to be the greatest help to me and helped get my foot in a few doors. The civilian sector is a different animal. The career paths are far more nuanced than in the military and I found I had to adapt to my company environment, because they weren't going to adapt to a veteran. I hope this helps

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