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.”

Success Story: Brian

After four years at a service academy and a year as an Army officer, Brian knew what it was like to “adapt and overcome.”  But then life threw him a huge curveball: a career-ending training injury that thrust him into the civilian job market at the height of the recession.

“Like many other twenty somethings,” Brian says, “I was forced to move back in with my parents while attempting to come up with a plan for my future.”   (In these economic climes, 40-60% of twenty somethings move back home at some point, or plan to!)

Within a year, he crossed the country to begin a PhD program in History, with the intention to become a university professor… only to discover that it wasn’t the career path he wanted to pursue either.  Brian realized what many JMOs need to consider when they leave the military: your transition is the ultimate opportunity to reinvent your personal brand.

“Consider this an advantage,” Brian advises, “In the future, your personal brand will be defined by your education and career experience… Each future decision will affect your brand, so consider each option carefully with an eye to your long-term objectives.”

For Brian, that meant focusing on what he truly loved: technology.

“I focused on my career contemplation until I developed a laser-like focus on the objective of becoming a ‘techie’ and subject matter expert in a large firm with a technology focus, based out of a major city.”

Does a goal get any more defined than that?  Armed with his objective, Brian left the PhD program within a year, landing a job with one of the world’s largest publicly traded technology companies.  It’s obvious that he loves his job, and has found something many JMOs actively seek in their transition: career fulfillment.    He’s now a standout at his firm, one of the top-performing technical experts in his age group.

Continue reading

Success Story: Mark

I met Mark during my second deployment to Iraq.  We both were Army brats whose fathers left active service during the Clinton-era cuts, watching them complete their military careers in the Army Reserves while starting civilian jobs.  Mark, however, was not a traditional active duty Army officer like me.

Mark joined the Army Reserves as an Automated Logistics Specialist, attending both Basic Training and AIT.  He then attended college and completed Army ROTC, earning a commission in the National Guard.  A shortage of active duty officers allowed him to be placed on active duty orders, bringing him to join my unit in time to deploy to Iraq.

During his time as a logistics planner for our Brigade Combat Team, Mark remained on the fence about whether he wanted to remain on Active Duty or to leave upon completion of his contract.  He had close friends and mentors in the unit, and learned a lot about contracts, vendors, and business.

“More importantly,” he emphasizes, “[it] allowed me to support soldiers within our Brigade and see a direct, positive effect on them.”

Mark remembers eating at the DFAC during the deployment with a friend, discussing plans for mid-tour leave, or R&R.  They happened to be sitting beside some of the other Brigade Staff , including our notoriously emotionless Brigade Executive Officer.

“The Brigade XO turned to us and asked us where we were going for leave,” Mark said, “We told him, ‘Australia, Sir.  We’re going to see a lot of the cities, and we’re going to go cage diving with great white sharks.'”

The Brigade XO’s eyes lit up and he actually smiled.

“That’s great!” he said, “You know I always wanted to be a marine biologist and travel the world.”

Mark recalls the man’s eyes quickly dimming, his smile disappearing, as he ended, “And then I got wrapped up in the Army.”

“I knew from that moment,” Mark said, “I was getting out.”

Continue reading