When to Start Your Military Transition

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transitioning veterans

Should you stay or should you go? It’s a question everyone asks at various points in their career, and one with specific importance for service members.

The military transition process involves numerous factors—from finding a job to navigation of the VA system.

Steve Leonard—aka, Doctrine Man—is a retired Army colonel and the program director for the Master of Science program in Business and Organizational Leadership at the University of Kansas. He’s also the creator of the popular Doctrine Man, a humorous military cartoon that blossomed into an online brand with nearly 200,000 followers. Leonard discusses his own military transition and the important considerations for every service member.

“The lesson that I took from my own transition … was that you never know everything that you need to know to make a successful transition until after you transition,” Leonard said. Another fatal flaw is attempting to go through the process alone. Because the process is personal, the one-size-fits-most approach of standardized training is not going to tell you what you need to know.

Transition Tip #1: Find a Mentor

“You kind of have to find those areas that are important for you, and then find a coach or mentor to help you in the process,” Leonard said. “You don’t take on the VA without a coach or mentor.”

Whether it’s navigating the process of applying for VA benefits or health care, finding a contract or civilian job, or relocating to a military-friendly state—when it comes to almost any aspect of the transition process, you can find individuals within your military network who have faced the same questions before. If you don’t have them, be proactive in reaching out to find those who can help.

“If you want to get a job in the GS [civilian service] system, don’t wait until you’re retired, or you’re sitting in the ACAP [Army Career and Alumni Program] system,” Leonard said. “Find someone who’s done it. Find someone who understands the process.”

Transition Tip #2: Have a Plan

“I went through executive ACAP, and you could have drawn a line and split the class in two halves of the people who wanted to start T-shirt businesses and the other half, who wanted to start CrossFit gyms,” said Leonard. “No one knew what they were going to do, and they were all within months of transition.”

If you’re planning to start your own business, you should have a business plan, know the tax laws, and be prepared for the financial and administrative aspects of running a business, notes Leonard. And the earlier you do that, the better. Don’t count on the transition program to give you all of the information you need to know.

“We tend to look at things as, you’ve served X number of years, the military’s going to take care of you on the way out,” said Leonard. “That may be true to some extent. But don’t expect them to hold your hand all the way through transition.”

Transition Tip #3: Take Jobs That Push You Out of Your Comfort Zone

The skills that help you with your post-military career may be skills you acquire from unexpected assignments. That’s why lifelong learning and a successful transition go hand-in-hand. If you’ve focused on making the best of every job along the way, you’re more likely to have both skills and a network of mentors to assist you navigating that post-military career.

For Leonard, one of those assignments was running a strategic communications office—despite not being a public affairs officer or having a communications background. It was a job he didn’t want, but one that turned out to be invaluable for helping him navigate his worth and role after the military.

“That was a job that helped me learn about branding, marketing, and my own professional value outside of the bounds of what I was doing,” said Leonard. For many service members, toward the end of their career, the temptation may be to take the easy job that allows more down time versus the challenging job that requires more effort. But if you’re looking to keep gaining value from your career all the way to the finish, that’s the wrong approach.

“Maybe handing out towels at the gym for the last year you’re in the military isn’t what you need to do,” notes Leonard.

When it comes to seeking out new positions and tackling unwelcome assignments, the approach you take directly relates to what you’ll get out of every position—and how it will help you in your overall career.

“I believed all along that if I focused on making a difference, things would work out,” said Leonard. “And generally, that proves to be true. There’s a silver lining in every cloud, you just have to find it. Even the worst assignment will play out, but you have to find a way to make it work for you.”

Source: news.clearancejobs.com

From the Corps to Corporate America

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Headshot of Laurie Sayles

U.S. Veterans Magazine asked Laurie Sayles, president and CEO of Civility Management Solutions (CivilityMS), and Jackson Dalton, president and founder of Black Box Safety, Inc., to share what it was like for them to transition out of the military and into the boardroom.

Laurie Sayles with Civility Management Solutions

Founded in 2012, CivilityMS provides professional consulting services as an SBA 8(a) certified, verified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), Economically Disadvantaged Woman and Woman Owned Small Business (EDWOSB/WOSB). The firm’s status as a SDVOSB is verified with the Center for Veterans Enterprise (CVE) and the Veterans First Contracting Program.

USVM: Tell us about your transition from military life to one as a business owner.

Laurie Sayles (LS): I am from Chicago, IL, and have always sought out a means of having my own money or supplementing my income. I was a baby-sitter to single women in the low-income projects complex I resided as a young girl and I modeled professionally during high school, all before I joined the USMC. So, I often say that I have always been an entrepreneur.

But after getting out of the USMC, I returned to supplementing my income. I tried medical billing as a home-based business only to learn it was a scam. I also became a wellness coach and a bootcamp fitness instructor, to name a few.

My journey was long after transitioning because there was no outreach during the 90’s for military personnel leaving the USMC. For example, TAPS didn’t exist, and no one in the marketplace really cared that you were a veteran. Also, the Internet was not what it is today and there was no support to help translate your MOS. It was a more challenging time.

But I wanted to work in corporate America, so I took a job for $17,000 in 1989 as a receptionist. With that, the journey began to learn the difference of being a civilian in this space as an African-American woman with no degree. Within a short period of time, I began to take English, grammar and speaking courses to help me modify my means of communication.

I climbed the corporate ladder from receptionist to administrative assistant, to an executive assistant, to an operations director to a project manager over a 20-year period. Then in 2012, I became president and CEO of Civility Management Solutions.

USVM: How did your experience in the military influence your skillset as a business owner?

LS: My experience from the military has a huge influence in my skillset as a business owner. Again, being an African-American woman in business adds more challenges that many cannot identify with unless they belong to this ethnicity. But, thanks to being a woman that served in the Marine Corps, I am accustomed to operating in a man’s world and a world that is full of alpha males! The Marine Corps is not known to be, “The Few, The Proud, The Marines,” just as a slogan—it’s a culture and a lifestyle. As I often say, if you re-enlist in any branch of the military, it really speaks to you adapting and accepting that culture completely, otherwise you get out after first term. No one—and I do mean no one—that knows me personally walks away not knowing that I served in the Corps. It shows up in my demeanor and my strength as a business owner.

USVM: What advice would you give someone transitioning from the military into becoming a business owner?

LS: Make sure you start your homework early when you know your end date. There is so much to offer us when we get out of the military, and finally this country is beginning to recognize this fact. Our discipline, leadership, resilience and determination set us apart from anyone else who never served. So, with running anything … you’ve been trained while you wore the uniform; trained to operate in high integrity; and trained to leave no man behind. All three of these lead to you being a strong leader willing to take full responsibility for your actions. Help others be successful as you become successful.

Do take advantage of all the training being offered by the SBA in your State, affiliates of the SBA, and programs offered to veterans of the military. Get yourself affiliated with associations and advocacy groups that focus on the type of work you want to do as a business owner.

Lastly, network, network and network some more to find people that you can engage with. And get yourself some mentors! Each one will add different values and you can call on them as needed.

Jackson Dalton and Black Box Safety, Inc.

Headshot of Jackson DaltonBlack Box Safety, Inc. specializes in the prevention of serious injury in the workplace by supplying safety equipment for government agencies and organizations. Dalton is a Board-Certified Safety Professional (CSP) and holds a Master’s degree (MPH) in public health—only 17 percent of CSPs hold both (Board of Certified Safety Professionals, 2017) —as well as a Bachelor’s degree in business administration.

USVM: Tell us about your transition from military life to one as a business owner.

Jackson Dalton (JD): I was injured while serving in the Marine Corps. As a direct result of the injuries I sustained, I went through 3 leg surgeries and was not able to walk for a year. While serving, I was hurt at work—essentially an occupational injury. From this experience, I have made it my mission in life to ensure that others aren’t hurt at work, so that they can continue to do the things that they love to do.

As a direct result of my Marine Corps experience, I transitioned from the military into a career in occupational health and safety. I pursued a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in Public Health, and spent over 10 years working as a Safety Engineer. Three years ago, it was my desire to help more people in a more meaningful way so I left my job at 3M and started my company, Black Box Safety, Inc., which is a supplier of safety products and safety training to government agencies and organizations that are looking for ways to reduce risk and help their employees stay safe and healthy.

USVM: How did your experience in the military influence your skillset as a business owner?

JD: My experience in the Marine Corps instilled two traits: Grit and bearing. Grit is the ability or decision to persevere in the face of extreme hardship and danger. Bearing is the ability to maintain a calm and confident demeanor in the face of adversity and uncertainty. I learned that the most contagious thing in the world is not infectious disease—it’s human emotion. As a leader, if I lose my bearing and communicate emotions of fear and stress, those emotions will be transferred to those I’m leading. I served as a squad leader in the Marine Corps and today I serve as President of Black Box Safety, Inc., where I am responsible for the health and welfare of 2 full-time employees and 4 part-time employees.

USVM: What advice would you give someone transitioning from the military into becoming a business owner?

JD: This is the advice that I would give to someone transitioning from the military to entrepreneurship

  1. Take advantage of every educational opportunity available including but not limited to: Post-secondary education funded through the Post-9/11 GI Bill and Dept. of VA Vocational Rehabilitation Ch.31,; free business start-up courses offered through the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) [SBA offers free business courses online at SBA.gov]; apply for a free SCORE mentor; podcasts featuring business start-up advice; and finally an often-overlooked resource that proved to be of great value and benefit to me, Shark Tank and YouTube.
  2. Join an incubator that is composed at least partially of active-duty and veteran business owners. I benefited greatly from the camaraderie I found by applying to a veteran incubator called Tactical Launch. I went through this incubator 2 years ago, and I am still close friends with many of the members of the cohort and many of us continue to be successful in business. The camaraderie is necessary when starting a business, especially if you are the sole founder. It’s actually the number one thing that servicemen and women miss the most when transitioning out of the military.
  3. If you are able to do so, start your business now. Many business startups require very little in the way of capital and expense. Most can be started out of your home with a phone, a laptop and a lot of determination. The biggest mistake I see in other founders is the desire to have everything ready prior to launch. A good plan executed today is better than a perfect plan executed tomorrow.

Why Veterans Make the Best Candidates for the Workforce

LinkedIn
A male body wearing a suit that is half black and half camoflauge

Recently, LinkedIn released its “Veteran Opportunity Report,” a list of data that serves to better understand the reality of transitioning veterans into the workforce. The data shows that Veterans are more likely to have a college education, more work experience, and a lower turnaround rate than those who have never served in the military.

These are all ideal qualities for job hiring and yet military veterans are still having a difficult time securing jobs due to the myths about hiring veterans. In fact, the same LinkedIn report stated the unemployment rate of veterans has increased by a whopping 34 percent. However, educating yourself and being aware of the myths are some of the first steps to understanding why military veterans can be some of the best employees for a company, regardless of what the company specializes in.

Myth #1: Veterans don’t have proper work experience

Yes, the culture on the battlefield is different from the culture at home, but military personnel are trained in several areas that result in trusted and efficient employees. In the military, the consequences of mistakes and the criticalness of executing orders are much higher than that of the workplace. Veterans are trained on how to properly ensure that their missions are carried out carefully and efficiently, which transfer over to completing workplace tasks and duties. Many also believe most veterans do not have the mental health to keep a job, but this, as the LinkedIn data show, is incorrect, as they stay at their jobs longer than those who have not served.

Myth #2: Veterans don’t have the capacity to be leaders

This need for attentive, efficient workers also transfers over for a need of management. Managers undergo a significant amount of stress, while trying to manage a group of employees. Veterans on the battlefield also undergo the stress of managing those they are in charge of, but at the risk of bigger stakes and stresses. Veterans are already used to a much higher level of stress when it comes to managing others, which gives them even more of an advantage when they manage employees with a lower level of stress. In fact, veterans are 70 percent more likely to take leadership roles than those who have not served.

Myth #3: Veterans Have a High Turnover Rate

In fact, the opposite is true. LinkedIn’s Report states veterans are actually more likely to stay with their companies for 8.3 percent longer than an employee who has not seen military culture. They are also 39 percent more likely to be promoted in filling larger roles than their counterparts.

It can be hard to know if an individual can take on a needed position, especially when rumors and misconceptions fly around on an entire culture. But taking a look at the data and experiences of veterans can help potential employers to understand how efficient their businesses can be if they hire the ones who know how to lead and succeed.

A Military Wife’s Guide to Suicide Prevention

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Depressed soldier leaning against the window covering his face with his arm

Aleha Landry is one of the many people who has a military spouse suffering from a form of mental illness from military experience.

Through her personal experiences tending to her husband’s mental health conditions and her knowledge of the rising suicide rate among military personnel, Landry does everything in her power to help those suffering from these conditions.

Through her husband’s struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts, Landry has had a look at the various military-implemented mental health programs that help military personnel in these specific instances. Though in place for good reason, Landry has expressed her husband’s distaste for the programs, as they claim to be a solution for an issue that is as complicated and complex as mental health. To bring awareness to what veterans are actually feeling in times of mental health issues, Landry writes letters to Air Force leaders and members of Congress.

Though she is yet to receive a response to her letters, Landry does offer three helpful tips that she believes should be implemented into the mental health programs for military personnel.

  • Therapists working through these programs should either be stationed to stay in one place or at least have a five-year commitment to where they are currently located. Many of the therapists that Landry’s husband has seen have relocated in a short span of time, forcing him to retell his story and rebuild trust over and over again. Lancey believes that having one therapist who is guaranteed to stick around would allow for trust, understanding and healing to be better implemented.
  • Guarantee off-base counseling. This would allow for those seeking therapy to have a wider range of choice in finding the right counselor, rather than feeling the pressure to have to talk with a specific person.
  • Reduce the redundancy in progress questionnaires. Many questionnaires given to track the mental progress of military personnel are redundant and frustrating, according to Landry, who believes asking the questions once and having them answered to a therapist rather than on a sheet of paper would decrease frustration and give patients the sense of being cared for.

One Pedal at a Time

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Dan Hurd standing behind his bike which has several personal belongings tied to it.

Dan Hurd’s infectious smile and true contentment rests gently with him wherever he goes. But this hasn’t always been the case. There have been many days where the voices of fear, shame, depression, and anxiety have made it hard to smile and trust others.

The years of sexual abuse, PTSD from time served in the military, battling years of painful addictions, and struggling to ever have any real peace eventually lead to him believing this life just wasn’t worth living anymore.

After multiple failed suicide attempts, Hurd was invited to go on a weekend ride with friends that would inevitably change the course of his life forever. Here’s his personal account:

In 2017, I was in a dark place in life. I had tried to commit suicide for the third time and felt like my life was this dark void. After I was released from the hospital, I was in the stage of telling everyone I was better, but deep down, I still had no idea how to change my life or what direction to go in.

My best friend had tried for years to get me to go bicycling with him with no success. He was an avid rider and I never really had the motivation to join him. I rode motorcycles, and in my mind, it would be a downgrade.

This time though, for several reasons, I ended up taking him up on his offer. With nothing to lose, I decided to ride with him and two mutual friends. We rode 20 miles. It felt good in the moment but I still felt the same after. A few days later we rode again. This time 30 miles. Again, in the moment riding felt good, but this feeling of being in a void lingered. What changed everything was the third ride I took with him the following weekend. We took a 166-mile trip.

I remember in the first half falling asleep while riding and barely made it to our destination. What helped me get through was the encouragement of my friend, who told me, “stop worrying about what we’ve done and don’t worry about what we got left; it’s left, right, left, one pedal at a time.” After that trip everything changed.

I realized what got me through it wasn’t worrying about the past or the future but only living in the moment. Taking it “one pedal at a time” became my mantra and my turning point. Hearing that was like someone throwing a glow stick in the void. My void wasn’t as deep as I thought.

I fell in love with bicycling and started planning longer trips. I became addicted, but it was a better addiction then my past choices of alcohol and drugs.

After only a few months of riding, I knew that I needed to do something EPIC.

Cycling proved to be so transformational for Hurd that he decided to sell everything he had, get a bike and begin a journey around the country, visiting fellow veterans he had served with in the Navy. He traveled across 48 states in the continental United States. As the trip went along, it was obvious that it was meant to be more than just a trip to visit friends. The journey totaled 25,000 miles in about three years to raise awareness for suicide prevention. “Broken down on a daily basis that’s 22 miles a day, and that’s my dedication to service members that lose their battle every day to suicide,” Hurd said.

His deep passion to share his gift of cycling with others, along with his desire to raise awareness about suicide prevention, was how the One Pedal At A Time Movement was created.

Now after 20+ states and thousands of miles later, you’re invited to be a part of this journey and learn to take life, one petal at a time. Join the movement! #OPAATMOVEMENT

To learn more, visit: ridewithdanusa.com or opaatmovement.com

Standard Operating Procedures for the Military Transition Process

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Veteran looking at iPad for education news witha flag in the background

By Brian Niswander

For the past decade, I’ve conducted interviews and collected data from thousands of veterans and spouses about their transition out of the military and into the civilian workforce.

After countless hours analyzing survey data and comments, I’m convinced that a successful transition embodies five key elements.

After making this discovery, I started thinking about my time in uniform and the importance of adhering to Standard Operating Procedures.

I couldn’t help but remember how we had procedures and checklists for important mission activities, and I think we owe the same level of rigor to veterans as they consider their future transition.

Based upon extensive research conducted by the team at Military-Transition.org, I developed a 5-step process to reduce confusion and increase the chances for success during the transition process:

#1 – Start Preparing Early

The data is clear and the majority of veterans surveyed (84%) indicate that starting early is critical to a successful transition. Unfortunately, this is seldom as easy as it sounds. Today’s ops-tempo requires military members to focus on the mission for the majority of their day. While finding time for things outside of the mission and family can be challenging, the advice from veterans is simple—you must find a way. There’s nothing unpatriotic about thinking and planning for what follows your military service. I tell serve members to start considering what’s next at least 24 months ahead of their transition. Starting this far ahead will pay dividends and will enable you to begin focusing on those transition elements which require time and effort to accomplish.

#2 – Have a Transition Plan

Your initial plan doesn’t have to be complex, but should include goals, enabling activities, and timelines. These can change as you progress, but you need to have a starting point. Your first goal might be to research and learn more about industries, organizations or positions that align with your existing skills. Maybe you’d like to do something completely different in the civilian workforce and need to begin exploring new and different opportunities which are outside your comfort zone. Activities may include reading books, journals, blogs and newsletters about these fields. Those considering an educational program might explore what programs are available and what career opportunities result from attaining that degree, certification, or license. In all cases, start connecting with those who transitioned before you, and others who can assist and might become mentors along the way.

#3 – Build Your Network

Of all the advice I’ve gathered over the past decade, this is the most recommended element of a successful transition. You can utilize social media (LinkedIn) and identify individuals to connect with, organizations of interest, and potential opportunities to learn about. You should also become active in community groups and build contacts through face-to-face networking. Engage with other military members, veterans, and civilians to understand their career experiences, education, and training programs. Successful networking not only helps you learn about post-military life, but it will also help you learn a new language which I call “the language of civilians.” Trust me, you need to speak their language—this is critical for the next element of a successful transition.

#4 – Learn to Translate your Skills

Of all the elements within the transition process, this activity will require the most effort. Translating your skills results in a strong resume, good interviewing skills, and the ability to demonstrate your value to a potential employer. Practice is essential to success and you must consistently demonstrate how your skills add value when networking. Ask for feedback and make continual improvements. This will require time to accomplish, but it’s worth the investment.

#5 – Be Patient

Almost half of the veterans surveyed (48%) claim their transition was ‘more difficult than expected’ and more than half (59%) say it ‘required more time than expected’. Take the time, do the research, build your network, learn how to translate your skills, and be patient along the way. You didn’t become a soldier, sailor, airperson, marine or coast guard person overnight, so don’t expect the transition to be quick. Remember that patience and persistence are key throughout the transition process.

Brian Niswander is the Founder of Military-Transition.org, an organization that uses data analytics and visualizations to assist military members with their transition into the civilian workforce. He started Military-Transition.org after identifying a need for data-driven-solutions which inform and guide veteran decision making during the reintegration process. Brian was an Air Force intelligence officer and now provides ‘transition intelligence’ to educate military families. His work has been featured in numerous publications along with radio and podcast interviews. His background includes analytic and leadership positions within the consumer goods industry along with management, strategic planning and marketing in public and private organizations. Brian has an MBA from the University of Notre Dame and a BS in Behavioral Science/Human Factors Engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Veterans Are Finding Lasting Peace After Taking These Free Journeys into Nature for Months at a Time

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veteran on a hike looking out at the wilderness in the distance standing near a cliff

With countless US ex-service members struggling to readjust to civilian life following their deployment, more and more veterans are finding unparalleled success in alternative forms of rehabilitation and therapy.

Warrior Expeditions is a nonprofit that has proven nature to be an effective treatment for veterans suffering from PTSD. The organization helps veterans overcome their trauma by sending them on longterm nature excursions lasting two to six months.

The charity, which also provides all the gear and supplies necessary for the journeys, typically helps 30 to 40 veterans every year with about 10 different expeditions—all of which are facilitated at no cost to the vets.

The organization’s recently concluded 53-day trip through North Carolina is the first time that Warrior Expeditions has incorporated paddling, biking, and hiking into one of their excursions.

Marine Corps veteran Sean Gobin was inspired to launch the charity after he returned to the US in 2012 following several combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. He then found peace and healing by hiking all 2,185 miles of the Appalachian Trail—and he knew that he wanted to share the experience with other veterans just like him.

There is no shortage of evidence on how spending time in nature can positively impact one’s physical and mental health. For the veterans participating in the Warrior Expedition outings, these therapeutic perks are also supplemented by the benefits of exercise, meditation, and sleeping outdoors.

Continue on to the Good News Network to read the complete article.

Find your new job: Retraining slots open for more than 2,700 airmen

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Little Rock Air Force Base

The Air Force this month has opened up retraining opportunities for as many as 2,773 active-duty airmen across its career fields in fiscal 2020.

According to retraining statistics provided by the Air Force Personnel Center, there are 1,708 slots available for first-term airmen to retrain into new jobs. There are also 797 retraining slots for staff sergeants, 258 slots for technical sergeants, and 10 slots available for master sergeants. In all, there are 111 career fields that need airmen.

That’s more than the 2,597 retraining opportunities the Air Force unveiled for fiscal 2019, which included 1,634 first-term airmen, 730 staff sergeants, 202 technical sergeants, and 31 master sergeants, and remains far higher than the retraining opportunities in the prior two years.

There are also 1,435 airmen in 63 career fields that are overmanned who need to retrain into other jobs. Only second-term airmen are eligible to retrain out.

In an Aug. 12 tweet announcing the opening of 2020 retraining, AFPC said that phase 1 of the non-commissioned officer retraining program, or NCORP, is open through Dec. 1.

If the Air Force does not get enough volunteers to retrain, it could move into a “mandatory retraining” phase.

AFPC said that these statistics, provided Aug. 19, are a snapshot in time that can fluctuate as needs change throughout the year.

The career field with the most retraining-in opportunities is 3P011 security forces, which has 312 vacancies among first-term airmen and staff sergeants. Education and training airmen in the 3F211 career field are short 140 first-term and staff sergeant airmen, and 4N011 aerospace medical service airmen have 231 vacancies in those categories.

There are also 120 first-term and staff sergeant vacancies among 1C111 air traffic controllers, as well as 112 1B411 cyber warfare operations vacancies and 100 1C311 command and control operations vacancies.

Continue on to the Air Force Times to read the complete article.

Make Your Next Job Fair Be Your Last

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veteran standing outside convention center wearing a suit carrying a briefcase

Job fairs are a great opportunity to network and be proactive in the employment process. In order to make the most of these opportunities, set realistic expectations for what you hope to achieve.

Prepare for the job fair like you would for an interview, have a plan for when you arrive, make a good impression with the recruiters, and be sure to follow up with any connections you make.

Here are some other ways to make the most of your next job fair:

•    Research: The week prior to a job fair, find out which companies are participating and learn more about them. What are some interesting things the company is currently working on? Does the company have new leadership or a new product? These tidbits can be used as conversation starters that will impress a recruiter and possibly open the door to a new opportunity for you.

•    Dress for an interview: Job fairs typically involve on-the-spot interviews, so present yourself as you would for any other kind of interview. A suit is most appropriate, even if you’re applying for a technical job. It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed.

•    Prepare: For your top employment choices, consider preparing folders that include your resume, cover letter, recommendations and appropriate work samples.

•    Carry plenty of business cards: Give the business cards to recruiters and other job seekers you meet. They need not be expensive or fancy. A simple design will do. Make sure they contain your name and contact information: phone number, email and address.

•    Organize: You may want to carry a portfolio or clipboard to easily manage and collect information. Be sure to have a pen for taking notes.

•    Relax, breathe and smile: Do your best to make a strong first impression.

•    Walk around: Get the lay of the land, see where your top companies are located and plan your connection strategy.

•    Network: Talk to other job seekers and ask questions. Find out what types of positions they’re seeking, and tell them a little about yourself. You never know who they might know, or if you might be able to help them with an introduction. Don’t hesitate to exchange information if you make a connection.

•    Visit booths: You may want to start by practicing your personal pitch with recruiters who represent companies that may not be your top choice. Have a list of companies you really want to visit and check them off as you go. This will keep you from introducing yourself to the same recruiter twice by accident. Listen to the “interviews” in front of you to get an idea what to expect and develop questions based on what you hear.

Speaking to recruiters
•    Connect: Make eye contact, smile, state your name and shake her or his hand. Use a prepared elevator speech—a 10-second summary of your bio, your skills and your achievements. Make sure to rehearse the speech until it becomes comfortable.

•    Listen: Pay attention, respond to questions and ask for more information. When appropriate, hand your resume to the recruiter and pause for them to do a quick review. Be prepared for questions about specific examples of your experience.

•    Keep it brief: Recruiters are typically swamped, so be mindful that your conversation may be limited to a few minutes. If appropriate, ask questions about next steps, applicant qualifications or any suggestions they may have for you.

•    Get recruiter contact information: Request a business card, and if one is not available, ask the recruiter for their email address. Conclude the conversation by thanking them for their time.

•    Step aside: Make time to write conversation notes before you move on to the next recruiter. If the previous recruiter mentioned she went to Florida State, capture that information. If she told you the company will hire for your desired position soon, write it down. Summarize your job fair experiences immediately in order to take full advantage of the event.

•    Call or email: After a few days, call or send an email, thanking the recruiters for their time and the information they provided. If you send an email to the recruiter who mentioned she went to Florida State, it is appropriate to write, “I’m the administrative assistant at the job fair who discussed Florida State with you.” That reminder could help her recall the conversation. Just taking the time to follow up will separate you from many job fair attendees.

•    Stay in contact: If the recruiter responds back to you, stay in contact. Keep an eye open for articles about their organization or industry and don’t hesitate to forward them on with a note. If you see the perfect job for you in their organization, and you’re qualified, apply for the position and then email the recruiter and let him or her know you applied.

•    Build your network: If you connected with other job seekers and traded contact information, you should follow up with them as well. You never know when they might have a job prospect for you, or vice versa.

If you need information or personalized assistance with your employment search, or have questions about education opportunities, visit the Military OneSource SECO page, or call 800-342-9647 to talk with a career coach.

A Guide to Pursuing an MBA

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veteran student

By Ron Kness

Whether going to school or working for a company, an important component to success is fitting in and feeling like you belong there.

If the school or business is veteran friendly, you will feel like you are “part of the family”—just like when you were serving. Others around you will understand the military lingo that you still use.

They can relate to your experiences when you need someone to talk to.

And if you have this comfort level, you will do better in your coursework or at your job.

Even though the MBA program or job may seem like a perfect fit in the beginning, you’ll soon question if you made the right choice if that veteran friendliness is lacking.

Is Your MBA program military friendly?

Choosing an MBA degree program is an important educational and career decision. After all, an advanced degree serves as a key to career advancement—with the company, position and experience being other factors. Just the difference in starting wage between having an undergraduate and MBA degree is significant—$54,000 versus $70,000 (minimum) respectively. Graduates from the top MBA programs start at six figures right out of school. Run the salary difference between the two types of degrees out over a 30-year career and the number is staggering.

But the first mission is choosing an MBA program. While only you can make the final choice, here is a thought-provoking checklist to help you arrive at a decision:

Does the school have a veterans’ association chapter on campus?

Once out of the military, veterans miss the comradery. Schools having a veterans’ association on campus not only gives veterans a place to meet, but gives the school administration ideas on how to make a veteran’s experience better while at their school.

Is the MBA program also offered online?

Many veteran students are also stay-at-home dads, struggle with PTSD or just like the flexibility of being able to study whenever the time fits into their busy schedule, so an MBA program being offered online can be a deciding factor. More and more, schools are offering the same MBA program both on-campus and online … even with the same curriculum.

Is the school part of the Yellow Ribbon Program?

This can be a true indicator of just how much a school supports veterans. If they support an unlimited number of graduate students with a maximum contribution of at least $9,000 or more per year per student, they have a great Yellow Ribbon Program. It actually ends up being twice that amount because the VA will match whatever contribution the school provides – in effect doubling the amount.

Is the MBA cost-effective?

While cost won’t be much of an issue if attending a public school under the Post 9/11 GI Bill or a private school under the same GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program, it’s a primary consideration if not using either. While going the cheapest route is not always a good decision, going the most expensive may not be either. Choose a route that will get you the best education that you can use to reach your career goals.

Does the school have an accreditation that is recognized by the career field?

Some of the for-profit schools were in the news lately where graduates discovered their school’s accreditation wasn’t recognized by their chosen career field. Not only was it costly to get their degree but not any of it was of value in getting the job they wanted.

Funding MBA Programs for Veterans

Post 9/11 GI Bill

For veterans having entitlement left from their Post 9/11 GI Bill, this can be a major source of MBA funding. When shopping for schools, check the Weam’s School Search to see if the MBA program is in the school’s list of programs—double check by asking the question when visiting the school.

With the GI Bill, the VA pays the school directly up to the resident tuition cost and eligible fees. Monthly, students receive a housing allowance determined by the zip code of the school and number of credits taken. Also students receive up to $1,000 per academic year in a book stipend.

One housing allowance difference to be aware of is for students taking all online courses—in this case students are limited to about half of what they would get if attending classes on campus. A loophole that still exists is to take one class per semester that can be applied to your degree plan (and the rest of your credits that semester online) to get the increased housing amount.

Yellow Ribbon Program

To be eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program, students must use the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Under this program, the school declares to the VA how much they will waive in tuition as well as how many students they will accept into their YRP each year, the degree levels covered and the maximum contribution per student. The VA pledges to pay an equal contributed amount.

The Weam’s School Search shows on the first page if the school is a Yellow Ribbon School or not, or you can visit the VA’s Yellow Ribbon School website to search by school.

Source: affordablecollegesonline.org

From One Battlefield to Another: 3 graduate programs for vets interested in politics

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Syracuse University

By Tom McCuin
ClearanceJobs.com

Thinking about running for office? There’s no better way to “put your money where your mouth is” than by throwing your hat in the ring.

Military service has always been a good starting point for entry into politics in America. Americans traditionally love war heroes, however broad the definition of that term might be. From George Washington, who was not only the commander of the Continental Army but a veteran of the French-Indian War, to George W. Bush, a Texas Air National Guard pilot. Thirty-two of the 44 men who have held the presidency served in uniform at some point, with 12 of them as general officers.

One of the high-water marks for veteran political activity was the election of 1946, the first held after the end of World War II. Seventy war veterans were elected to Congress that year, including three future presidents: John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon, and Gerald R. Ford.

There are currently 96 veterans of all stripes serving in Congress—77 in the House and 19 in the Senate—but only 19 are freshmen. I believe we need to raise that number.

If you’re a veteran who wants to make a difference in politics, whether at the local, state, or national level, there are several programs where you can put your Post-9/11 G.I Bill benefits to use.

These programs give you the technical knowledge necessary to get a head start on your potential opponents, whoever they may be.

Syracuse University Veterans in Politics Program

Syracuse University is the newest entry in this field. Banking giant JP Morgan Chase & Co. (where retired Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno is a senior advisor) provided a grant to Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs to begin the program.

Mike Haynie, executive director of Syracuse’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families and vice chancellor for its strategic initiatives and innovation, said, “We hope to create the opportunity to put the veterans who participate in the program on a path to enacting their aspiration for office.” Syracuse participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which covers the difference between Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits and the cost of tuition, and has a robust veteran services office.

University of San Francisco Masters in Public Leadership

In conjunction with the Veterans Campaign, a non-partisan organization dedicated to preparing veterans to hold political office, the University of San Francisco runs a hybrid program of online courses and weekend seminars. The program leads to a MFA degree in public leadership. It’s designed to prepare all students, but especially veterans, for political office as well as for careers in legislative affairs, campaign management, advocacy and civic leadership.

The seminars are available in both San Francisco and the Washington, D.C. area. Like many professional graduate programs, the faculty come more from professional life than academia—a must when discussing the nuts and bolts of getting elected. Prominent among the adjunct faculty is Patrick Murphy, the first Iraq veteran elected to Congress.

George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management

The George Washington University. The Graduate School of Political Management was the first of its kind in the country. It began in New York in 1987, branching out to Washington in 1991. It formally became part of GWU in 1995.

If you want to learn about politics from the people who actually practice and study it alongside people who are currently working in it, then GSPM is for you.

The program offers master of professional studies degrees in three areas: political management, legislative affairs, and strategic public relations. Political management would be the best choice for would-be candidates, while legislative affairs is geared towards those looking to work on Capitol Hill or as a lobbyist. Strategic public relations prepares students to advise senior political and corporate leaders on their engagements with the public.

Continue on to clearancejobs.com to read the complete article.

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