This Week’s Reads

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” -Alvin Toffler-

Military families face financial hurdles – CNNMoney

8 Ideas to Recharge Your Career This Spring – SavvySugar

What We Have Here is a Failure of Mentorship – Everyday Bright

The Ins and Outs of Saving for College – LearnVest

3 Ways to Be a Better Brainstormer – SavvySugar

Pursuing a Job? Here’s the Right Way to Do It – LearnVest

25 Ways to Get Motivated Today – Wise Bread

Dear MBA Applicant – Ms. Career Girl

Google Recruiter: Ask This Question at the Start of the Interview – SavvySugar


Success Story: Troy

I met Troy towards the end of his time in the military; he’d been working with a recruiting firm for about 10 months prior to his transition.  What struck me about Troy was his energetic personality; unlike many military officers I’d met, he oozed charisma and confidence.  I envied his ability to know exactly what he wanted to do!  He started early and found success in the short amount of time I was able to observe his transition.

“I wanted to get it right the first time, job-wise,” Troy said, “Any recruiting company can get [JMOs] a job because we are in demand, but what sometimes happens is you are placed in a job that you don’t like, leave it after a year, and then are back on the market.”

Troy ended up choosing a different firm than I did (we both agreed they were our two favorites) and liked the training and preparation.  He felt the recruiter put a lot of effort into him, though he felt the reading lists were all pretty similar amongst firms.

The most valuable part of the experience was the resume assistance.

“It was my first time doing a resume,” Troy said, “I needed help getting it down to one page, grouping things, and only listing the most prevalent and quantifiable items.”

Troy also participated in mock interviews.

“I am very appreciative of the time they invested in me and educating me on the process,” Troy said, “At the conference, I was presented with 11 companies with opportunities across the U.S.  There were a couple of companies in locations I couldn’t see myself living, but there were 7 that I singled out as my top choices.  I received follow-up interview offers from all of them, but in the end chose to visit three.”

Troy has been working as a civilian for about 5 months now, and really likes how his life has changed.  He credits the recruiting firm for his successful transition.

“They did a great job of bringing in quality companies that I could [see myself] growing in.”

Troy’s Tips for Success

  1. If you want to use a recruiting firm, shop around.  Troy decided that there were two firms he preferred, both of which had exclusivity agreements.  He chose one over the other because he felt like it was a better ‘fit’.  You should feel comfortable; they need to work for YOU!  Troy just needed someone to tell him what to do, so he could get it done!
  2. Choose the right job, something you’ll want to stick with!  “As an officer coming out of the military, you should seek a job where you can stay at least 4-6 years and reach that next level of management in a company.  You’ll then have some legitimate civilian experience and achieved pay increases and promotions more than once.”
  3. Be energetic.  “The initial interview is about likeability.  The follow-up is where the company will see if you are a good fit for them.  Treat every opportunity as if it is your “#1″ and close your interviews well.”

Hiring Our Heroes on NBC

This week, NBC is promoting the Hiring Our Heroes program sponsored by the U.S Chamber of Commerce.  As a result, there have been some great segments on their networks about veterans transitioning to the civilian workforce.  Here are some clips, in case you missed them!

NBC’s Today Show: Hiring Our Heroes

MSNBC: Program helps veterans and spouses with job search

MSNBC: US veterans face return-to-workforce challenges

This Week’s Reads

“A capacity and taste for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others.”  -Abraham Lincoln-

Jobless rate for veterans plunges – CNN Money

Best jobs if you’re leaving the military – Money

8 Things You Should Never Do When Leaving Your Job – SavvySugar

An Introvert’s Guide to Networking – Harvard Business Review (from January, but new to me!)

7 Ways to Impress Your Boss – Monster Working

A faster (and cheaper) alternative to an MBA – Fortune

U.S. Jobless Claims Drop – NY Times/Reuters

Planning Your Civilian Retirement

Unless you finish up your 20 years in the Reserves or National Guard, chances are transitioning JMOs won’t be receiving a full military retirement or continuing the Thrift Savings Plan.  I’m not.  And while I’ve been putting a little bit away for my retirement since I was a teenager, I’m not yet savvy on what retirement plans entail in the civilian world… so with a little help from a finance guru friend and internet research, I’ve got the 411 on IRAs and 401(k)s for those of us who don’t yet know the lingo.


  • free retirement account/long-term savings plan only available through an employer (replaced pensions in many cases)
  • money comes out of your paycheck (sometimes “matched” by employer!), with certain limits to contributions
  • traditionally, taxes are paid when you take the money out, not put money in
  • money is invested in money market funds, growth funds, etc. to increase over time
  • not protected by Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (which pays out those with failed pension plans)


  • can be Traditional or Roth
  • Traditional IRA contributions are tax-deductible (under certain income limits), with no taxes on growth, though you do pay taxes when you withdraw it at age 70 1/2
  • Roth IRA contributions are not tax-deductible, with no taxes on growth, and have fewer withdrawal restrictions and requirements or taxes due when you withdraw at age 59 1/2
  • Anyone can open a Traditional IRA, but not everyone qualifies to open a Roth IRA; contributions are also limited

These retirement accounts are a great way to invest and plan your future.  It’s important to diversify your investments (don’t put all your eggs in one basket!) but these accounts are a great start for when you transition to a civilian career.

Thanks to LearnVest who wrote this great article that moved me to start finding out more.

Thinking about an Internship?

One of the things I felt I missed out on in college was an internship opportunity.  I spent my summers in military training, while my sister spent time as an intern in public relations, hospitality, and event coordination.  Upon graduation, she landed a job in the hospitality industry, directly related to her internship focus and not her major.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Not everyone leaving the military will have an opportunity to squeeze in an internship before starting a new job.  But for those headed to grad school, or have a lot of terminal leave before they intend to job search, an internship is a good way to break into certain fields that are notoriously difficult to enter.  I think about Brian’s success story and how he had a passion for technology that helped him create his own personal brand.  If your goal is to work in an industry like film, television, PR/advertising, sports, fashion, publishing, tech, art, and other ‘creative’ fields, an internship might be your back door to the career of your dreams.

Intern Sushi is one great website for these specific fields, but another way to find an internship is through your network.  Find those companies on LinkedIn that you want to work for, make some connections, and see if there are any opportunities for you.  You may even find someone you can shadow for a week or so to learn the industry, as Brian suggested.  One of my friends from high school majored in communications on the West Coast, only to discover his real passion was fashion.  He networked and got an internship at a top fashion magazine in New York (very Devil Wears Prada), knowing that his internship was really an audition for a future job.  Sure enough, he was offered a position at the publication shortly thereafter.

If you want to make your resume stand out, and you’ve got the time and resources to take an internship, it might be a great way to learn about an industry you like.

Articles to Read:

How to Get a Great Internship – Lindsey Pollak

Internships: The Back Door to Doing What You Like –

13 Ways to Land your Dream Internship in Marketing, PR, and Social Media – Marketing Zen Group

Frustrated? Confused? Be prepared for the transition process.

I had a terrible time the other day, trying to get my orders for separation.  I’d received my REFRAD approval last year, begun the ACAP process and registered for classes, prepared myself for interviews, and kept my bosses up-to-date on my timeline.  But, it turns out, I had missed a step.

No one had told me that I needed to submit specific documents to the transitions personnel, who create the orders.  This was something I could have done last year, but I never got a handout, checklist, or anything to tell me so.  I only found out because a fellow officer showed me a document she’d received.  I was frustrated!  How could I have missed a step?  I’d been so organized, so prepared!  How did this happen?

I was beginning to think that people stay in the military because it’s easier than trying to get out!

After I calmed down a bit, I was able to gather all of the necessary paperwork to receive my orders.  As I talked to other personnel in the ACAP/Transitions area, I realized I wasn’t the only one confused about it all.  There seemed to be so many agencies involved and a total lack of organization.  And based on feedback from my friends, it’s like that everywhere.

Since it seems like no one else has a checklist, I’ve come up with a short one to get you started.  Hopefully it will help you out, because I wish I’d known this last year when I started.

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