My First Days at Work

I’ve taken quite a bit of time off writing this blog!  Being in the midst of moving, taking some time off to spend with family, and starting a civilian career, it’s been an absolute whirlwind.  But now that I’ve been working for a little while now (and loving every minute of it!) I thought I’d compare/contrast my old vs. new workplace just a little.  Obviously every workplace is a little different, so my transition was mostly from a staff officer to a corporate workplace perspective.

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My Civilian Job:

Hours:  There’s no PT, so you basically work from 8 am to 5 pm.  Sometimes more, sometimes less… it’s about getting your work done, not staying a certain amount of time.

Attire:  It is so weird to pick out an outfit every day and not throw on a uniform!  Seriously!  And since I have a casual workplace, I can wear jeans if I want to, or dress up/down depending on who I’m meeting with.  It’s really cool, actually… so long as I have an idea of what I want to wear.

Coworkers:  Everyone legitimately wants to help!  It’s an unselfish environment.  It’s not about rank structure, it’s about working together to achieve company goals.

Bosses:  It’s not a command presence.  First name basis, total accessibility, and we’re allowed a level of autonomy I’ve never experience before.  It’s really nice, actually… you always know where you stand.

Time Off:  Weekends don’t count against you for vacation, there are flex holidays, and you can work from home when you’re sick… without a note from the doctor or trip to ‘sick call’.  Amen!

Meetings:  We still have a lot of meetings, but it isn’t “death by PowerPoint” like I used to experience.  It’s an open forum, participative, and anyone can speak their opinion freely.

Needless to say, this is all a huge contrast to what I worked in before, and I can already tell this is much more “me” than the military ever was.  I really have no regrets about my choice to transition, and the only thing I miss about the military is my friends.  I’ve found Corporate America has the real mentorship I’ve craved, an opportunity to make an impact and participate even as someone new, and a more happy, balanced lifestyle.

There will be times I work late into the night, or feel stressed, or miss certain things about my military experience.  But I anticipate it will be nostalgia more than anything, not something I really want to go back to.

What Not to Wear

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One of the things that may be most foreign to a transitioning veteran (depending upon your background) is the idea of a professional wardrobe.  Sure, we have dress uniforms, but for years we’ve been wearing what we’ve been told to.  There are entire regulations with instructions and standards for what to wear… but in the corporate world, we have to dress ourselves.  And that can take a little bit of getting used to.

Every work environment is different.  Some will require traditional business suits, others a form of business casual, and some more creative companies will allow more flexibility.  In some jobs, safety add-ons like steel-toe boots and the occasional hardhat may be necessary for work.  But when it comes to the interview, it’s best to stick to the basics.

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