While visiting Dallas in July 2014, Marine Cpl. Leah Nicholls heard a radio bulletin about a DAV/RecruitMilitary
Veterans Career Fair in the area and decided to attend.
Nicholls, who returned from a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan in February 2013, was on military leave and planning the next phase of her life.
“I knew I would have to create my own luck,” she said. “I had brought interview clothes and resumes with me.”
Out of the Marine Corps for almost two years, Nicholls said that when she reflects back to her transition, she would encourage veterans to take advantage of services from organizations like DAV and advises not to expect a lot of help from the military.
“I think [the military] focuses on the wrong things when service members are transitioning out,” said Nicholls when describing her journey from camouflage to business attire.
Nicholls, now the senior talent acquisition manager with Epic Health Services, said that when she entered the Marines, she was thoroughly taught how the military works. However, she left the armed forces with little knowledge of the corporate world.
“This is a really big problem in my eyes,” she said. “We spend millions training [service members], and you’re rewired in boot camp to have a military mind.”
In contrast, she said, those transitioning out of the military are often only given one week of training and preparation before separating.
“I thought I should go into heavy equipment because that’s what I did in the Marines,” she said. “That’s what everyone thinks. But the job fair was more diverse, with more employers than I anticipated.”
Nicholls said she wanted to visit every booth at the career fair for networking opportunities. That’s where she discovered Epic Health Services, where she met President and Chief Operating Officer Chris Roussos.
Nicholls joined the company as a junior veteran employment recruiter. Soon after, she designed and launched the Epic Veteran Employment Program (EVE) with the goal of hiring 900 veterans. In 2015 alone, they hired 300.
“We’re committed to making this a priority because we know the challenge veterans face as they come home and look for jobs,” said Roussos, who is now CEO of Epic Health Services. “Not only do we appreciate their service to our country and want to serve them in return, but also we feel that veterans make great employees.”
DAV National Employment Director Jeff Hall said Nicholls’ success can be emulated by other veterans.
“Leah is proof the DAV career fairs work,” he said. “She arrived in professional attire, had her resumes ready to go and wanted to network as much as possible, which is key to gaining the most from any career fair. She maximized her opportunity, and I wish her continued success.”
Citing her own company as an example, Nicholls advises fellow veterans not to limit their career interests based on their military specialty.
“We don’t hire for education or experience,” she said. “We hire for drive, motivation and the ‘want to do it.’”
Source: Disabled American Veterans