When I began this blog seven months ago the purpose was to document my thoughts and experiences during the last year (or so) of my active duty time in the Navy. As we draw down on 2013, I wanted to take some to reflect on my experience thus far.
First of all, I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on the project as a whole. I’m particularly grateful whenever I hear from my friends that are still years away from retirement/separation. The original purpose of this was to provide a platform to capture information in order to share it so that others may succeed and I hope I’m accomplishing that.
Back in my second post I described this transition process as trying to pull off a trapeze stunt without having the benefit of practice, seven months later that feeling remains. I’ve committed to the process and let go of the first swinging bar, and look forward to catching another. It’s not a very comfortable feeling. It’s a stage we all have to go through, though.
For those that have followed this blog from the beginning you may have noticed that the posts have become more advice oriented and less on personal reflections. Getting some of my posts picked up by other organizations has been a big reason for this. My article about the American Corporate Partnership was picked up by their website, and I’ve also had pieces shared by the local job board ClearedJobs.net as well as the recruiter organization RecruitDC.
This success, though very moderate and with zero financial gain involved, has validated for me that my real passion lies in helping organizations succeed by recruiting, training, and retaining veteran talent. Over the years I’ve come to see that making this happen is a two way street. We as veterans need to market ourselves correctly and organizations should continue to proactively seek out military members for employment. I’ve seen first hand that there is good stuff happening on both sides of this equation.
I’m also convinced that there is room for improvement. Hence, some of my posts have offered advice to veterans, and other posts have been aimed at exposing civilian organizations to the unique challenges of engaging a military audience. Working to bridge this gap is what I truly love to do and I look forward to helping individuals and/or organizations succeed by helping to get the right people into the right jobs.
Since it’s been a while since I wrote anything “personal” about my experience, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what I’ve learned.
1– Networking early and often is the key. I can not stress enough how thankful I am to the many civilian individuals that I’ve come into contact with who have helped me. They have provided great mentorship and even better they have always been quick to introduce to me to others. Networking really is exponential and there are a ton of very good people in the world. As scary as it is now, I can’t imagine where I’d be without these individuals. Every success I’ve had in this process can be directly traced back to someone in my network.
2- There are some outstanding programs out there and American Corporate Partners is a great one. My mentor has given me a fresh perspective about career paths and the organization has been truly top notch. I look forward to attending a specific ACP Networking event at the end of January.
One thought that continues to bounce around inside my head is the idea of striking out on my own. I’ve found the Small Business Administration has great information. I have also learned about an organization known as Score that provides local mentors for service members starting their own business. For those that are service disabled and looking to start your own business please check out the Entrepreneur Boot Camp, this looks like an amazing program. (I don’t qualify, but it’s worth passing along.)
3- The amount of helpful outlets can be overwhelming. For example, LinkedIn has a ton of groups that offer career advice, many of them are very good, but there are so many it can be tough to keep up. I was told that these are the key to building your network on LinkedIn and I should pick a couple and be active in the discussions forums. I’ve done that and it’s worked out just as I was told. I’m establishing myself as a “content creator” with “virtual footprint“, but sometimes I know that can get lost down the rabbit hole of LinkedIn. There’s a lot of people, on a lot of sites, saying the same things, to the same people. Sometimes I just need to remind myself I don’t need to be everywhere, all the time. I can’t read everything on the internet. I also hope that this blog doesn’t fall into that category of just regurgitating the same information.
4- I know more than I think I do. In all honesty, having the blog posts picked up by other organizations has been an ego boost. So has the feeling that I’ve become a subject matter expert, at least to some degree, for veterans and recruiters alike. This has given me a lot of confidence. The more people tell you that you can do something, the more likely you are to succeed, and as an active duty person it’s very nice to get that validation from those in the private sector.
5- I don’t know everything. Despite point #4 above, there are still some things that I need to learn and experience. Knowing this has led me to ask a lot of questions of a lot of people. It’s what motivates me to attend professional events and do a lot of professional reading. I think there is such thing as healthy amount of self awareness and that knowing our shortcomings is a critical component in preparing for the jump from Sailor to Civilian.
Over these past few months it’s become obvious that the transition process can happen very quickly, and yet at the same time seem painfully slow. I’ve always believed that you’re better off leaving the military because you are running to something, as opposed to running away from something and at this point I feel like I have found my focus in terms of what I want to do. For that I’m thankful.
Although the manner and location I ultimately do the work of connecting organizations with veteran talent is still undecided, I remain confident that it will all work out. Terminal Leave starts in June of 2014 and my last day getting paid on active duty is August 31st, so I still have some time.
I hope that my thoughts thus far have been helpful to at least a few people and I look forward to continuing to share this experience with those so inclined to follow.
Seven months into this project, has anything been helpful? Is there anything else you’d like to see addressed? Let me know in the comments section.