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Is it too late for a transitioning Army officer with 37 years of experience to find meaningful work in the private sector?


James (Jim) Pringle Honolulu, HI

Team Advisors, Good morning from Hawaii! I'm looking to continue my service in Corporate America and leverage my management expertise in program, operations, personnel, or IT management. I'm open to anything where I can be a contributing and valued member of a team. I am a communications, information assurance, cyber, and networks officer by training; a Signal Officer in Army lingo. I believe that people, relationships, and reputation are important and when trust is established there is nothing that can't be done. What advice do you have for someone who is "older" but not old and still looking to make a difference. Thanks for your time and for what you do for all of us in transition. V/r Jim

19 January 2021 11 replies Military to Civilian Transition



Jeff Martin Ashburn, VA

I’d suggest that you network at the target company or industry. Use LinkedIn to find people already working there and reach out to them. Ask them the process they used to get hired and ask them to help you navigate the hiring process and if they are willing, ask them to submit you as a referral. These activities require much more time on your part but in my opinion would greatly increase your chances for success. Good luck!

22 January 2021 Helpful answer


Byron Andrews Houston, TX

Hi Jim- I have to differ with a few of the other comments, despite them being from apparently successful/knowledgeable guys. Specifically regarding your age. At 50+, you should plan on facing additional challenges. Age discrimination is a well-known fact in the private sector. Unfortunately, I think you will face it at nearly every level, from trainee/intern, to C-level. Can it be overcome/compensated for? -of course! Just be realistic in your expectations, especially with respect to the time it will take to find the right fit.
I think you will do well to target large defense contractors. I also like Michael Horn's suggestion of buying an existing business, especially if you have entrepreneurial tendencies.
Finally, I see alot of older guys getting hired into civilian intelligence jobs after they retire from military. My agency seems to be hiring nothing but vets. You would be a natural to come in as a GS13 making $80-100K+ depending on locality. I can talk further about that with you if you have an interest.
Best of luck, and be sure to enjoy yourself.

20 January 2021 Helpful answer


Roger Bhalla Houston, TX

I agree with Chip. You're still in the "prime earning years" band of your career, so not to late. Consider two angles: first, businesses that work with the military that would put a high value on your military background. You'll potentially have an easier path, but these are more limited. Second, translate your military experiences into the core of what you did that applies in any organization - managing people, establishing plans and executing, allocating resources, improving efficiency & effectiveness, etc. While Military to Corporate may seem like a "big change", many within corporate make similar changes when they jump industries.

20 January 2021 Helpful answer


Chip Brown Durham, NC

I read your question and had to laugh. In short the answer is NO it's not too late. If you are like me as a retired Army Infantry Officer, you have leadership and numerous skill sets accumulated from varied staff and command positions. There is corporate bias toward older resources however there is also a great need for leadership. I would reach out to your network, research business' you think you'd have a good fit with and start testing the waters. Your already living in paradise IMHO.

20 January 2021 Helpful answer


Michael Horn Marietta, GA

Buy an existing business that has owner financing. It's what I did. I bought a manufacturing company because I was an Infantryman. You can make money, support your family, and enjoy your work. Take a course like, Entrepreneurship for Transitioning Warriors. You can do it. Don't worry about the money part. It is out there.

20 January 2021 Helpful answer


Christine Kuffel Westchester, IL

Thank you for your service.

Have you considered work at a community college? Not exactly the private sector - but a wonderful place, nonetheless.


James Vickery Ogden, UT

Hi Jim,

You are not too late. I was in your same position a year ago: over 30 years of military service, over 50 years old and starting a new job. Do not undersell yourself, you have a wealth of marketable skills to bring to a company if that is your desire. You may have to put in some work, but as a fellow Mustang you know how to do that.

I can point you to some employment opportunities in the company I am now working for if you are interested, with a variety of locations available. This is a key point in your 'new normal' - you have more flexibility now, with more selectivity in what you can do.

Another odd facet of work outside the military is that if there is something better for you, an opportunity you want to pursue, take it. As I was told a few months ago, "there is no loyalty on this side of the fence." That is somewhat hard to think about coming from our background, but I have seen that happen several times already.

Another consideration is to manage your expectations (as a Colonel, I am sure you are familiar with doing that already). I mentioned this to another vet: your skills and abilities will become evident, but do not expect CEO pay and benefits the first day on the job. Prove yourself, and those will come. Some companies are wary of hiring high ranking retired officers - they do not want the 'military mindset' taking over. While we bring dedication and integrity with a strong work ethic, we have to temper that somewhat to match the culture and environment we expect to work in.

If you want to pursue some extra certifications in IT or business to help your qualifications, Syracuse University offers training courses through the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) Onward to Opportunity (O2O) Program ( This also applies to spouses, so there is additional help there as well.

Happy to provide other insight and discuss other questions you might have.

Jim Vickery


John Dyck, Ph.D. Spring, TX

You say you have a lot of management experience; experience managing what?

As a potential employer I want to know how can you:
1. Save me money
2. Save me time
3. Reduce my stress
4, And most important, help me grow the company.
Answer these questions and I will hire you.

Good luck


Doug Bohrer Northbrook, IL

You should look for small companies to work for. Small companies are much more concerned about what an individual can contribute than the age of the individual.

You will likely face age discrimination at a large company. I did. I beat it because, among other things, I am a Vietnam Era Veteran and a compliance specialist. Twice, I convinced them I had a good case for discrimination and would sue them. It was unpleasant. I fought because I had nowhere else to go. They started trying to get rid of me at 63. I retired at 66. I'm telling you this not because I'm bitter, but because I don't want you to waste your time.

I am good with resumes. I will work with you personally over the phone on fixing yours. I've done this for lots of vets here. My email is For other vets reading this, my offer isn't limited to Jim Pringle.


Louis Schwarz Somerville, NJ

Hi Jim, Thanks for your service.
At your age and experience level, you will be getting a position in a area that is being restructured or is a problem area. All the easy jobs are held by someone else.
The best way to see the industry from the inside is to work for a consulting firm. That will get you some experience and you can determine the next steps for yourself. You have valuable experience but you have to get into the game to hone it. Private industry is a bit different than the military.
It will take time and you may change direction when you start. Have fun and do not give


Todd Cloutier Woburn, MA

Hello Jim,

I work for Raytheon Technologies in Cybersecurity and your experience would be a fit here. Please let me know if you would like to pursue any opportunities at the organization and I will be happy to submit an Internal Referral for you. Just send me a private message on here and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

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