Transitioning out of the Military was one of the most challenging circumstances I have ever faced. Not only was it intimidating, but it was an eye opener. We are told from the very beginning about how there will be so many jobs for veterans and how simply just being a veteran increases our chances of employment. That is true to an extent. However, most of the jobs that they are referring to will never meet most of our financial needs after being in the Military.
I served eight years in the US Army. I had one 12 month deployment to Afghanistan, then served 3 ½ years in recruiting until I opted out in September 2015. I was lucky…sort of. I started working as soon as my terminal leave started. Here’s where the ‘sort of’ came in. I was only making $13 and some change per hour. I got a job with a company that required a Bachelor’s degree, which I had. After eight years in the Army, I needed quite a bit more money to survive than that. I had gone through a nasty divorce and had a ton of debt from the experience.
I’ve found similar situations happen to quite a few of us. We assume we can make what we were making while we were in. We assume that we can start at mid-level management and that we will make more than $13/hour starting out. Fact is, that is rarely the case.
Now there’s a few times things work out. There are some circumstances that the jobs that those held in the military transfer perfectly to the civilian world. I was a mechanic. Yes, my job was transferable but with a spinal and head injury, that kind of work wasn’t going to be sustainable long term or even short term for that matter.
So, if I can lend you a few pieces of advice.
- Do your research!
- Network, Network, Network!
Start early and don’t wait until you are out to start networking. Start building those relationships. It took me three jobs, seven months of unemployment, over 1,000 job applications, and hundreds of interviews to find a career that I actually enjoy.
Now I get to work with Veterans on a daily basis and assist them in achieving their own career goals. My entire career revolves around working and helping my fellow veterans. I also get to do quite a bit of networking. It’s because of this, that I so passionately stress to every vet that I meet, to keep building relationships, even after you’ve found a job. You never know who you are going to meet!
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