I am sure that I am like many military servicemembers and didn't do 80% of what I needed to set myself up for a smooth transition from military to civilian. Will I be okay? Yes, I'm lucky and have an immediate pension.
What are your top 3 bits of advice to impart on your troops? Peers?
Networking. Networking. Networking.
Networking. Networking. Networking.
The number one thing I wold have done, honestly, would have been to sign up for ACP during my transition. The relationship(s) you will build with your mentor and their network are invaluable and having an industry professional as a sounding board is incredibly important as well. It builds confidence and reinforces good habits- an unbiased person that can keep you accountable.
Second, I would have started saving for retirement the DAY I entered active duty, instead of waiting until two years into my service.
Finally, I would researched formal learning opportunities at local colleges and universities (online or on campus- night school) that I could use to show potential employers in my industry of choice that I WANT to learn more about their industry so I can be a part of it.
Hope this helps.
Thanks for your question. I'm sure that everyone has a different take, but in my experience transitioning out from the Navy a few years back, I found that identifying goals was the easiest part. "I'm going back to school," "I'm moving to Utah to be close to family," but it wasn't until things started to get to crunch time that I found I was at a total loss as to HOW I would get started on those goals, let alone how I would accomplish them. I still got everything done, but it involved a lot more stress than it should have.
This would be my guide (if I could go back in time):
Identify goals (this should be getting done ALL the time)
Identify timeframe to start and achieve goals
ASK FOR HELP
I was somehow averse to asking for resources when I still had the opportunity to do so. The other suggestions I would have would be:
Start two years before you separate (AT LEAST)
Make a financial plan
Determine health care coverage and make all arrangements to transition
Build a network for wherever you may be relocating
And if I may ask, what are some of the things you are GLAD that you did?
I would have started my BS sooner. For no other reason to potentially have more Post 9/11 GI Bill left to pursue a second MS. I would have researched certifications sooner and started one, CPLP, perhaps instead of my MS. I also would have done far more research about where my chosen career is “hot” and made a decision about where to live based on those findings.
Good afternoon Alexander, First and foremost - thank you on behalf of a grateful Nation for your faithful and honorable service. Looking back I found Networking to be the most valued tool in my toolkit. For example, I had tracked well in my military career. My first job as a Department Head, JROTC was because I knew two retired Colonels that pointed me in the right direction. My second job had been Economic Development, Second Congressional District, U.S. House of Representatives, but the Member of Congress that appointed me was based upon past networking. Education or experience are also helpful tools. Education can be a substitute for experience and vice versa. Financial literacy is good for helping you find a safe haven if a rain comes. Network at every possible opportunity. Best of Luck! CW4 Kent T. Watson, US Army, 34 years and 7 months.
I want to share my thoughts on this matter. Once I realized it was going to be difficult to put on E7, I started 5 years from the day that I wanted to separate. I’ll try to layout the timeline. I started researching my dream job in 2014, which included networking with family members who were corporate, because thats the direction I wanted to go. I knew that I’d need a degree and a solid wardrobe to pull it off. In 2014, I also began my BS in HR Management and minored in business law. I put my schooling first in front of my military career because I was focused on preparing for my future. Over the next course of years, I charged hard to complete my degree within 4 years and I started building my wardrobe by buying a business suit every quarter. I joined a fraternity, which gave me access to the strongest network that I could ever build. After I completed my degree in 2018, I started researching professional certifications and seeking out military transitioning programs to help me out. I joined Hire Heroes who took all that I had and helped builda resume’. Afterwards, I joined ACP and began linking up with advisors, who put me on to a few lesser known military transitioning organizations. I joined Veterati and met some powerful mentors who helped critique the resume and cover letters that were previously built by Hire Heroes. As far as certifications, I applied to the Onward to Opportunity program which would allow me to access the certifications, which compliment my degree and I was accepted into the program. In addition, as a backup, I joined Operation New Uniform which is another organiztion which helps with military transition. This organization turned me on to a DoD program called SkillBridge, where if you could find a company to start me off as an intern or apprentice, the DoD would allow me to go TDY/TAD for up to 180 days prior to separation. The tricky part is building the package and getting it approved once you have your hiring letter signed by the company CEO. So after my package got approved, I joined the The Wounded Warrior Project for them to assist with my VA Disability claims. Even though I am retiring in August as an E6, I have my BS degree, professional certification, a network, and a wardrobe. In addition, I will be going TDY/TAD to start my internship in March 2019 where I will remain until my retirement date at the end of August 2019. At that point, the company who spent 6 months training me will make an offer. But here’s the other catch, they can either make the offer worth my wild, or they can risk losing someone that they have already invested in.
I hope that this information will help you during your transition.
I like all of those recommendations. Especially, networking to where you think you'll be moving to.
I am ~ 60 days out and as I mentioned in my initial post, I have it easy (-ish). My pension will cover the mortgage as bills.
If I could name the top 3 things that I am glad that I did, they'd be:
1. Treating everyone that I was in charge of with respect. Some of them are hiring managers, have reviewed my resume, and have just been good to me. Their hard work made me look good in the military on so many occasions. Their hard work helped me in my career. I've always been grateful for that.
2. Lifelong networking. I was taught at an early age that if you couldn't give money, then give time. I've volunteered countless hours (and some voluntold) over my career and I've met so many great people that have looked after me and my family over the years. They still do. They've made my transition stress and anxiety free.
3. Realization early on in this process that I can't do or undo the past. I've wasted money, been married & divorced, made dumb decisions, dis-enrolled from a commissioning program, etc. Those "mistakes" helped mold me into a better Marine, husband, and father.
If I were to do a few things differently, I would have made more time for myself (education, physical health) as I got closer to my 20-year mark. I am still way behind in my medical/dental health. I always put it off for the mission and my Marines.
Lessons learned, but I do feel that the best is yet to come.
Great insight and I agree. Those are 3 realistic and attainable goals in your first 4 years. I personally don't think that we teach our younger servicemembers to network as well. Also explaining to them that networking doesn't have to be cheesy or fake. Church, cultural events, community events, veterans service, et cetera are great places to make friends and find mentors as well.
Thanks for your response.
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