TAO Self-help

Title:Advice to newly separated veterans who are looking for a career in a different field than their military experience

Author:Lucas Velasquez

Date:September 2013

Source:Hospital Corpsman � USN

I separated from the Navy in 2007 as a hospital corpsman and decided to go to college like most veterans do. I was a nursing major because it only made sense since it is what I had experience doing in the military.

However my junior year in the program I decided that I no longer had the drive and passion to continue in this field. I then switched my major over to Information Technology as it has always been a passion of mine.

My senior year in college I saw how many jobs especially entry level jobs wanted relevant experience but I figured that my military experience should count for something, right? In fact my first couple of interviews went horrible, as they only really focused on my experience within the field and even though I learned important soft skills in the military and had experience that wasn't directly related to programming or IT, they were very weary on continuing the hiring process.

Mind you that these positions were for either internships or entry level positions. I was determined to start getting experience in my new field of study, so I took a look at my resume and said "How can I make this look more appealing to potential employers?"

  • I re-wrote my resume using my experience from the military focusing more on soft skills that potential employers were looking for as well as any relevant collateral duties or projects that I worked on that could relate.
  • I also took it a step further and got 3 professional IT certifications to make me stand out and show potential employers that I could and am willing to learn.
  • I also took my resume over to the college career center to get reviewed and made those suggested changes to my resume.
  • I also found out about my school's job database where employers in the area were looking for college students to start working in their field of study.
  • I started applying for internships on their website as well as other places with my new resume and certifications, and it was a totally different situation!
  • I got interviews for 90% of the jobs that I applied to, and all of them were paid internships or part time positions.
  • I couldn't believe the difference in success. During my 9 months at my internship, I was nearing the end of my degree and wanted to find something full-time as we just had our son and needed the benefits. I updated my resume with my internship position and sent it back out focusing only on full-time positions.
  • I also joined a program that my college was offering for veterans called ",Boots to Suits", (boots-to-suits.com), where they teamed veterans up with successful veterans in the area to mentor and guide you into getting a full time job. At the end of the program we got a free suit to interview in.

I interviewed with 12 companies and got 10 offers in 1 1/2 months of applying for jobs. I started my new full-time job before I was done with my degree and completed the rest of my classes online. I graduated with a BS in Information Technology, and am currently working on my MSBA in Computer Information Systems.

Key things that helped me get a start in my field:

  • If you're in college get an internship!
  • Get certifications in your field
  • Utilize your university's career center
  • Practice, practice interview skills. (I noticed that after my first couple of unsuccessful interviews that the questions were really similar and started working on those kinds of questions)
  • If you're in the IT/ Programming space be prepared to take technical tests in your interviews. Every job interview that I went to required me to take a test and write code on the spot. I even had a couple of tests that were proctored.

Lucas shared this through Linkedin and I felt it was a compelling first person account to share with you. I know your experiences will be different than his. This is not meant to be an outline or roadmap for you success. It will hopefully offer you some broad guidelines of ways you can approach your new career after military life.
Ron Rutherford, Business Development Manager — TAOnline.com

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