Robert Irvine: Serving Those Who Serve

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Chef Robert Irvine

By Mackenna Cummings

Robert Irvine, celebrity chef and fitness inspiration, has become well known for his work on the Food Network Channel and restaurants everywhere from Vegas to the Pentagon.

He champions for healthy eating and living, and for all current and past members of the military, having served in the Royal British Navy himself for 10 years. And now he is taking on even more to aid military members and veterans.

While visiting a military base, Irvine usually keeps things upbeat, using the time to encourage and celebrate their service. However, on a recent visit in the last year (Irvine kept things unspecified for the sake of privacy), he was approached by a service member who was contemplating ending his life. This inspired Irvine to work with the Voice Awards, a program that recognizes and honors individuals making a difference in mental health and substance abuse through education, accessibility, and support.

Veterans and active duty service members make up around 20 percent of the suicides that happen every year in the United States, and Irvine says one of the biggest problems facing both active duty men and women and veterans is that they are afraid to ask for help. Recognizing the people making a difference and providing help is a key resource in helping members of the military find and reach out to the right people.

The Voice Awards has a unique platform and is able to tell real stories of people who received help and highlight the best resources and opportunities by recognizing and awarding their success. This can have a powerful impact on anyone struggling and encourage them to reach out for support. It also works to bring awareness and education, two other aspects Irvine appreciates about the program.

While it is clear that he has passion for universally aiding veterans, his newest goal is to provide anything “that has to do that gives them a better equality at life. You know we think about the services that are tangible, we all want to help and do that, but what about the things that are not tangible; we don’t know what post-traumatic stress looks like, we don’t know how these other things that they have look like—there’s no face. So, I think that’s why I’m involved; I’m helping them find those resources in the range of things that spoke to me.”

This year, Irvine hosted the Voice Awards and does not want to end his partnership with them. He hopes to find a network to host the awards show on to reach a bigger audience. As a veteran himself, he is well aware of the realities that veterans face and hopes to be a source of positivity of what the other side of serving can look like.

Irvine recognizes the difficulties of bringing the awareness to larger audiences, but he does not let these negative aspects discourage him from seeing a bigger picture to the work he and those he partners with are doing. “If we can make a difference, one person at a time, then we are doing something,” he says.

Irvine has come a long way and continuously ties his abilities as a Robert Irvince with Marinechef to accomplish a multitude of things. He got his start in a home economics course while he was still young, and that was all it took to push him toward his career as a chef. In the beginning of his career, it was all about the food. He cooked for multiple venues, beginning with the Royal British Navy where he mastered his skills for 10 years and then for everything from cruise ships to casinos, learning more about why he loved being a chef along the way.

Irvine hosts several shows on the Food Network Channel, including Restaurant: Impossible and Dinner: Impossible, and has inspired and helped hundreds maintain restaurants and manage their culinary skills and desires. And it is through these projects that Irvine has come to realize his skills in making food are not what is most important. While the food is still a key ingredient to what Irvine does and every part of his work, it has become secondary to the way food can bring people together and break barriers.

Irvine has managed to help people all over through his passions as a chef and determination to use those skills in service to others. When discussing how he has grown as a chef, he says, “For me, it was all about food, and now, it’s about helping people. Food is the conduit to helping people.” And there is no doubt he has helped. He is working to bring better tasting and fresher meals to the Military by partnering with Sodexo. He stays in touch with the restaurant owners, who he helps on his show Restaurant: Impossible, to give advice and support long after the filming has finished. He has authored cookbooks and owns restaurants himself as well.

Irvine takes his cooking skills to military benefit events and programs, most recently inviting several serving military men and women to engage in an ice cream sundae eating challenge at a celebratory reception for Walmart’s grant to Hire Heroes USA. Even while focusing on helping and doing his job, he manages to bring an element of fun and joy to everything he engages with as a chef.

Irvine lives to support people using food and cooking as a means to communicate and bring together all the right people for the best way to move forward.

It is clear to see that Robert Irvine is much more than a chef, although he insists he’s a simple guy. It doesn’t end with the shows on the Food Network, which he hosts and loves, or his restaurants. Irvine is an unstoppable force of determination and support for everyone he encounters.

He recently opened one of his Fresh Kitchen restaurants in the Robert Irvine Ribbon CuttingPentagon, providing the best food for the people who serve our country, and it has found great success. He also recently opened his restaurant Public House in Las Vegas, to which he invited active duty service members to be the first guests. The menu is inspired by Irvine’s travels all over the world, travels he finds time to take when he’s not hosting several shows, running the Robert Irvine Foundation, managing his protein bar business, and his restaurants. Not only is Irvine incredibly busy, but he seems to strike gold with every project he puts his efforts toward.

His protein bar, FIT Crunch, has been well received, voted best-tasting fitness protein bar by Bodybuilding.com and is loved for its taste as well as nutrition. He has his own live show, Robert Irvine FitcrunchLive, which has been praised for its innovation and entertainment. The show is not a traditional cooking show to instruct, but rather an entertaining and engaging show that challenges the audience (literally) to lead fit and healthy lives.

Irvine is much more than a chef; he is an entrepreneur who has found a way to support an important community. He is open about speaking up for supporting the military, mental health, and using food to bring the people who can make a difference together. With every project, show, product, and restaurant Irvine has, he ensures to give back and help the military, among many others. His success is constantly going into his foundation, which does so much for every member of the military, from supporting financial costs of making their homes accessible if they have injuries, to (of course) serving food, and bringing awareness so others can also use their skills to help. Irvine says, “I created the Robert Irvine Foundation to serve as the cornerstone of everything I do. All of my shows, products and partnerships support my mission to grow the Foundation.”

With all of these accolades, this self-described simple man proves that you can always find a way to use your passions and skills in the service of other people. Irvine’s actions, passion, and voice are doing incredible things to bring awareness and aid to members of the military and the issues they face. To learn more about what he does or how you can help, visit: robertirvinefoundation.org/

If you or a loved one is facing a crisis, please call 1-800-273-8255 or visit veteranscrisisline.net/ for ways to chat online or via text.

Veterans Business Battle invites entrepreneurs to participate in 2022 competition

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HOUSTON- Rice University’s business competition geared for military veterans will take applications from new entrepreneurs. Applications are open for the 2022 Veterans Business Battle, an event that gives military veterans an opportunity to pitch their business plans to a panel of investors for a chance at investments, business partnerships, and prize money. In recent years, finalists received more than $4 million of investments through the program. Early-stage businesses and existing companies needing growth capital are both encouraged to apply.

This year’s event will extend networking opportunities to other business startup founders who want to attend sessions led by previous Veterans Business Battle winners.

“We’re looking forward to giving veterans the opportunity not just to share their ideas and get financing, but learn from other past winners the lessons about entrepreneurship they’ve lived through while growing their businesses ” event co-chair Reid Schrodel said.

Veterans Business Battle will award a combined $30,000 in cash prizes to winners at the event. The cash will be split between a $15,000 prize for first place, $10,000 for second place and $5,000 for third place. The event is hosted by Rice Business Veterans Association, a student organization for military veterans at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business.

To apply, applicants must submit a business plan on the competition website, www.vetbizbattle.org, by Feb. 15. Businesses must have an honorably discharged veteran or active duty founder and equity holder who is actively running the venture.

Finalists will be invited to make their business pitch April 22-23 at Rice University. All types of businesses are encouraged. Previous winners have included retail products, a commercial drone business, technology firms and more. Those interested in competing should visit business.rice.edu/vetbizbattle

Veterans Business Battle was established in 2015 by a group of Houston entrepreneurs and Rice University’s Veterans in Business Association. The competition aims to foster entrepreneurship among veterans, grow veteran-owned businesses and give back to veterans seeking to make a difference in the business world. For more information, visit business.rice.edu/vetbizbattle

Hot Jobs of 2022

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The past few years have brought about a lot of changes to the workforce. We have improved on our “work from home” systems and specific industries have grown in unexpected ways. If you’re looking for a career change this year, here are 2022’s fastest growing jobs that you may want to consider.

Healthcare

It’s no surprise that the healthcare industry has risen so quickly with recent events. Now the industry is in need of professionals in every field of medicine, and these jobs are some of the least likely to ever see a decline.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growth of healthcare careers is expected to grow by 2.6 million jobs in the next decade.

Jobs to Consider:

  • Nurse Practitioners:
    • Description: Nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners coordinate patient care and may provide primary and specialty healthcare.
    • Median Pay: $117,670 per year ($56.57 per hour)
    • Education Level: Master’s Degree
  • Occupational Therapy Assistants:
    • Description: Occupational therapy assistants and aides help patients develop, recover, improve as well as maintain the skills needed for daily living and working.
    • Median Pay: $60,950 per year ($29.30 per hour)
    • Education Level: Associate’s Degree from an accredited program
  • Physical Therapy Assistants:
    • Description: Physical therapy assistants and aides are supervised by physical therapists to help patients regain movement and manage pain after injuries and illnesses.
    • Median Pay: $49,970 per year ($24.02 per hour)
    • Education Level: Associate’s Degree from an accredited program

Information Technology

Not only is the world of tech and online presence growing, but it’s becoming more and more necessary every year. Whether you are working in the world of cybersecurity, code or maintenance, this field isn’t slowing down any time soon, with an estimated 668,00 jobs to be created in the next 10 years.

Jobs to Consider:

  • Information Security Analysts:
    • Description: Information security analysts plan and carry out security measures to protect an organization’s computer networks and systems.
    • Median Pay: $103,590 per year ($49.80 per hour)
    • Education Level: Bachelor’s Degree
  • Web Developers:
    • Description: Web developers create and maintain websites. Digital designers develop, create and test website or interface layout, functions and navigation for usability.
    • Median Pay: $77,200 ($37.12 per hour)
    • Education Level: Bachelor’s Degree
  • Software Developers:
    • Description: Software developers design computer applications or programs. Software quality assurance analysts and testers identify problems with applications or programs and report defects.
    • Median Pay: $110,140 per year ($52.95 per hour)
    • Education Level: Bachelor’s Degree

Energy

As more and more of an effort is being made to invest in clean energy, prevent climate change and work to care for our planet, specialty jobs centered around these projects have begun to increase.

Jobs to Consider:

  • Wind Turbine Service Technicians:
    • Description: Wind turbine service technicians install, maintain and repair wind turbines.
    • Median Pay: $56,230 per year ($27.03 per hour)
    • Education Level: Postsecondary nondegree award
  • Solar Photovoltaic Installers:
    • Description: Solar photovoltaic (PV) installers assemble, set up and maintain rooftop or other systems that convert sunlight into energy.
    • Median Pay: $46,470 per year ($22.34 per hour)
    • Education Level: High school diploma or equivalent
  • Forest and Conservation Technicians:
    • Description: These technicians provide technical assistance regarding the conservation of soil, water, forests or related natural resources.
    • Median Pay: $38,940 ($20.57 per hour)
    • Education Level: Associate’s Degree

Finance

No matter what the career, everyone could use some extra help when it comes to dealing with their finances. If you have a strong suit for math and an expertise in matters of money, careers in finance are a sturdy, high-paying route that might work for you.

  • Accountants:
    • Description: Accountants and auditors prepare and examine financial records.
    • Median Pay: $73,560 per year ($35.37 per hour)
    • Education Level: Bachelor’s Degree
  • Statisticians:
    • Description: Mathematicians and statisticians analyze data and apply computational techniques to solve problems, usually working in areas of the federal government, scientific research and development companies.
    • Median Pay: $93,290 per year ($44.85 per hour)
    • Education Level: Master’s Degree
  • Financial Analysts:
    • Description: Financial analysts guide businesses and individuals in decisions about expending money to attain profit.
    • Median Pay: $83,660 per year ($40.22 per hour)
    • Education Level: Bachelor’s Degree

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Best Colleges

Small Resume Mistakes that could cost you the job

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By Tawanah Reeves-Ligon

As many Americans find themselves back on the job hunt, candidates are polishing their interview skills and, of course, updating their resumes. But what exactly should one be looking for to strengthen their resume and help it stand out from the crowd and get past those pesky AI systems?

Here are some small mistakes that could be slowing your resume down in a big way:

1. Outdated Keywords
Words are important, but which words have the most impact in your field can change in the blink of an eye. As technology updates and social standards progress our business expectations, jargon shifts, thus the words that applicant tracking AI systems and human recruiters are looking for on your resume inevitably changes too. As you review your resume, make sure to use search engines and job postings from your industry to find the skills and experiences being asked for the most. Make a list. Then, use it to align your keywords with what recruiters want to see.

2. The Wrong Formatting
The number one focus of every resume should be readability! Unless you’re a graphic artist seeking a design-focused occupation or a similar type of creative role, your resume does not have to be visually striking. Usually, a simple, clean design and format that is easy to read and scan is the best option. It is alright to use a resume template but tweak it, so it doesn’t look like every other resume that hits the human resources desk. Edit your resume to have a standard font, plenty of white space, bullet points instead of paragraphs and concise statements. Also, consider changing written numbers to numerals to conserve space and using the percent sign (%) instead of the word. Finally, make sure your style and formatting choices are consistent throughout the page.

3. Bad Grammar and Mechanics
After correcting confusing formats or unreadable style choices, your next step is to run your resume through some proofreading software or hire a professional editor. After looking at it repeatedly, it can be easy to miss basic typos, grammar mistakes or other small errors. So, take your time when everything is finished to review your resume one more time and use a program or second set of eyes as well, especially if checking grammar and mechanics is not your strongest skill. Asking friends and family to assist can be helpful during this step.

4. Listing Old Positions
Always list your most recent and most relevant positions towards the top of your resume. If you have been using the same or similar resume for several years, it might be time to look it over from top to bottom and delete some more entry-level positions, especially those over 10 years old. Not only will this help consider space, but it will also make your resume stronger because it focuses on the most pertinent and fresh experience you’ve accumulated.

5. Forgetting to Update Contact Information
During your review process, it is easy to miss small details like contact information. So, be sure to confirm everything is up-to-date. Maybe it’s time to consider creating an email specific to job searches? Use a professional email address for communication and a good phone number where you can be easily reached.

6. Irrelevant/Outdated Skills
It’s time to take Microsoft Office proficiency off of your skills list. It’s almost an assumed skill nowadays for most office and administrative roles. Similar to updating your keywords, skills should be relevant and pulled directly from the job postings and online role descriptions that show up most often in your industry research. Furthermore, think about what you’ve accomplished in recent years: Were you in a new program at your current or most recent position? Did you take a class? Have you been leading team meetings? Incorporate these skills into your new resume.

7. Using Dated Phrases
An easy way to date yourself as an older or less up-to-date job seeker is using outdated phrases. For example, “references available upon request” or any mention of references is unnecessary as most online applications ask for them separately, or your recruiter will be sure to mention them if needed.

8. Saving the File Incorrectly
This last one may come as a surprise. Simply saving your resume under the filename “resume” may make organization easier for you; however, it makes your resume one amongst many unidentifiable files on the computer of a hiring manager. Including your first and last name in the resume file name along with the word “resume” helps it point to you as an individual before it’s even opened. Furthermore, unless otherwise requested, make sure to save your file as a PDF so that all of the careful formatting and style choices you worked on will be preserved.

Veterans unemployment drops to lowest level in two years

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The unemployment rate among U.S. veterans in December fell to its lowest level in more than two years, before the start of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that sidelined hundreds of thousands of jobs nationwide.

According to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday, the jobless rate among all American veterans last month was 3.2%, down from 3.9% the month prior.

In February 2020 — the last full month before the coronavirus pandemic forced shutdowns and work stoppages across the country — the unemployment rate for veterans was at 3.6%. It hasn’t been below 3.0% since December 2019 (when it was 2.8%) but had hovered around that mark for more than two years before the virus’ arrival.

The positive news on veterans unemployment was paired with improvements in the national jobless rate. It fell to 3.9%, its lowest level since the start of the pandemic and the first time it has been below 4.0% since February 2020 (when it was 3.5%).

Officials saw significant improvements in hiring for manufacturing positions, leisure and hospitality jobs and business services work.

Read the original posted on The Army Times.

How to Discover Your Ideal Career

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Maybe you’re closing the chapter on your military life and opening a new one, or you’re in the process of making long-term plans. As a service member, you have many resources available to help you with this significant change. Here’s an overview of what you need to know as you seek employment.

Explore Your Career Path

There’s a difference between a job and a career. Both pay the bills, but a career is more likely to give you a sense of meaning and accomplishment.

Finding a career that matches your skills and interests is the key to job satisfaction. Invest some time in a little soul-searching before you begin your search to make sure you’re going down the right path.

Whether you plan to continue in your current field after leaving military service or you wish to pursue a new opportunity, you should ask yourself two questions:

  1. What are my career goals?
  2. What steps do I need to take to position myself for success?

To help you answer those questions, a self-assessment can help you set goals and plan your way forward. Here are a few options:

  • CareerScope® is a career planning and assessment tool through the Department of Veterans Affairs that recommends career choices based on your interests and abilities.
  • My Next Move for Veterans is an assessment tool to enable you to explore careers, including those related to your military occupational specialty.
  • Career OneStop also offers a self-assessment that includes an interest assessment and skills profiler. The service, which is sponsored by the Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, also offers tools to help search for jobs, identify training and learn about careers.

Credential and Leverage Your Military Experience

Your military experience has given you training that converts to skills in the civilian world. The COOL program helps you translate your training into civilian credentials and speak better to what employers are looking for.

The United Services Military Apprenticeship Program provides active-duty Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard service members the opportunity to improve their job skills and to complete their civilian apprenticeship requirements while they are serving.

DOD SkillBridge connects transitioning service members to career job training opportunities. Participate in training and development with industry and employers who are seeking the high-quality skills that you bring to the table.

The Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program provides transitioning service members with professional training and hands-on experience in the civilian workforce.

Build Your Resume

The goal of a resume is to effectively summarize and highlight your qualifications in a way that will make the employer want to reach out and schedule an interview with you. These tips will help you build a resume that will stand out.

  • Collect your assets. Get a copy of your Verification of Military Experience and Training through the Department of Defense. The VMET document helps you prepare resumes and job applications quickly when you separate from service. Include essential components like contact information, job objective, summary of qualifications, employment history, education and training, and special skills.
  • Tailor your resume for the job. Translate everything into civilian terms and include volunteer experience.
  • Write a cover letter. Get the name of the person in charge of hiring, keep it to one page and always follow up.
  • Tap into resume-building tools. Check out Veterans.gov and VA.gov.

Find the Right Civilian Career

Your military experience is valuable to many employers, but it’s up to you to get out there and sell it. Start with these tips:

  • Get in touch with friends and fellow veterans. Organize your contacts and connections.
  • Tap into the services of your transition assistance offices. Get referrals for employment agencies and recruiters, job leads and career counseling.
  • Hit job fairs. Look for upcoming events to meet potential employers including:

Hiring Our Heroes career events for transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses.

DAV Job Fairs

American Legion Job Fairs

Recruit Military Job Fairs

  • Look for veteran-friendly companies. Many organizations are committed to helping veterans find a good job. Look for programs such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes initiative. Check out organizations like Soldier for Life, Marine for Life, the Military Officers Association of American, Non-Commissioned Officers Association or Enlisted Association, and United Service Organizations. Also, see the HIRE Vets Medallion Award for a list of organizations committed to veteran hiring, retention and professional development.

Other Employment Benefits and Assistance Programs

Review some of the top services and programs offered by the military and the government, focused on jobs for veterans and helping you find your new career. Also, check out these employment benefits and assistance programs available before and after you leave the military:

  • Department of Labor Employment Fundamentals of Career Transition: This one-day workshop provides an introduction to the essential tools and resources needed to evaluate career options, gain information for civilian employment, and understand the fundamentals of the employment process.
  • Department of Labor Employment Workshop: This two-day workshop covers emerging best practices in career employment, including in-depth training to learn interview skills, build effective resumes, and use emerging technology to network and search for employment.
  • Vocational Training Track: Participants complete a career development assessment and are guided through a variety of career considerations, including labor market projections, education, apprenticeships, certifications and licensure requirements.
  • Soldier for Life engages and connects Army, government and non-governmental organizations to support soldiers, veterans and families.
  • Marine for Life connects transitioning Marines and their family members to education resources, employment opportunities, and other veterans’ services that aid in their career and life goals outside of military service.
  • National Guard Employment Support Program supports National Guard Service members in finding meaningful careers and job opportunities as they face the challenges of military life, whether mobilized or in a steady-state posture.
  • American Corporate Partners: Free mentoring program connects Post-9/11 veterans with corporate professionals for customized mentorships.

Match your military skills to civilian jobs, find transition resources, and start your military-to-civilian job search with the resources and information provided above.

Source: Military OneSource

Vietnam Veteran Continues Serving Others Through Legal Advocacy & Emergency Response

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By Sophia Chapple, KellyAnn Romanych, and Antoinette Balta, Esq., LLM

Like many fellow Vietnam veterans, Scot Douglas dedicates his life to service and remembrance of others. His hardworking nature to bettering the lives of fellow veterans is exemplified by his journey from voluntarily enlisting in the Army during the Vietnam War to eventually pursuing law to close the justice gap for veterans and military families.

As a former probono-turned-staff attorney, Douglas has helped more than 1,200 veterans gain priceless peace of mind through his tireless work at Veterans Legal Institute (VLI).

In all honesty, Douglas did not want to be drafted. Despite pursuing his college degree, he was reclassified as 1-A (eligible for military service). This did not stop him from contributing to the Vietnam War effort. Instead of going the traditional route of waiting to get drafted, Douglas pursued his own niche – languages and linguistics.

While researching extensively to find a language school to learn Japanese, he found if he enlisted, the Army would offer him the opportunity to attend a language school. The only catch was he didn’t get to choose his language, and as such, was sent to Vietnamese Language School for 47 weeks instead. Due to his voluntary enlistment and language training, he was deployed to Vietnam where he served as a translator. Douglas continued to serve as a translator once he returned to CONUS (Continental United States) from deployment.

Douglas knew he wanted to pursue language learning before enlisting in the Army, however, whilst in the Army the true extent of his passion became clear. After being discharged from his first enlistment, he attended college to get a degree in Linguistics with a minor in Anthropology, simultaneously participating in the ROTC program. This allowed him to dedicate his time and expertise to the Army once again, and he served in the Army Air Defense and Intelligence units.

After a second discharge from the Army, Douglas went on to work for the United States Postal Service; another highly essential role in our country. Despite enduring multiple personal hardships during his time with USPS, he proved his resilience by completing an MBA through evening classes.

Once Douglas retired from the Postal Service, and with his wife’s encouragement, he decided to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps and attend law school. At 62 years old he began law school – a testament to his dedication to learning and his continuous commitment to contributing to society.

Impressively, Douglas passed the Bar exams in both California and Arizona. His decision to volunteer with VLI was spurred by a talk he attended. Knowing homeless, disabled and low-income veterans desperately needed free legal aid, Douglas eventually began volunteering 5 days a week. Valuing his hard work and dedication, VLI offered Douglas a stipend and the flexibility to work remotely.

Scot and Marion Douglas provide year-round, critical volunteer emergency response support with the Yavapai County Jeep Posse to protect fellow Arizonans
Scot and Marion Douglas provide year-round, critical volunteer emergency
response support with the Yavapai County Jeep Posse to protect fellow
Arizonans.

His work at VLI began with meeting exponential requests for assistance in veterans benefits, discharge upgrades, immigration, consumer issues, landlord-tenant matters and estate planning. Now, with the mentorship of VLI Board Member and pro bono attorney Sheila-Marie Finkelstein, Douglas specializes in estate planning, recognizing the importance of assisting his fellow veterans with this important legal area they would not normally consider.

Estate planning requires an unrelenting dedication as clients can face immediate concerns. In one pressing case, Douglas completed an estate plan for a veteran just weeks before he passed on, so his house would go to his son. In another, he fulfilled an immediate request for a Durable Power of Attorney, where he interviewed the client, drafted up the necessary documents, and sent them to the veteran the next day.

Douglas is an inspiring and compassionate individual who has shown unerring resilience and perseverance through his years of service to our nation. He is truly an exemplary individual, one we all can look up to, and VLI is extremely fortunate to have him in its ranks.

Join VLI and help provide free legal services to our veterans and military families. Together, we can greatly reduce veteran homelessness and suicide. To date, VLI has served more than 8,000 veterans and restored over two million dollars in veterans benefits.

To learn more please visit VetsLegal.org

Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs, Inc. is pleased to announce the appointment of Chris Ann Phillips as Chief Administrative Officer

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Chris Ann Phillips headshot

She joins Guardian Angels and brings academic and leadership experience in development, marketing, communications, human resource management and diversity, equity and inclusion.

She is a results-oriented leader and nationally recognized advocate in the veteran and disability community. As a U.S. Marine Corps veteran she brings strategic focus to the growth and development of the organization.

Chris joins us from PNC Bank where she served as the Military Affairs Liaison and Enterprise Business Lead for PNC’s Annual Community Mutt Strut – supporting veterans in danger of suicide by raising funds to provide medically trained service dogs across the country. Starting her career with PNC as a Diversity Specialist in HR recruiting, she was instrumental in the design, development, and execution of the veteran hiring strategy for PNC.

For the last 3 years Chris has taught as an Adjunct Professor of Business and Professional Communications at Duquesne University. She has held successful positions with Chrysler Corporation and the Department of Labor as a national sales trainer and regional job developer.

Her civic duties include Pittsburgh Veteran Employer Coalition and the Veteran’s Advisory Board for Duquesne University. She is an active member of the board of directors for Pittsburgh Warrior Hockey and is a highly sought-after mentor and public speaker in the military community.

Guardian Angels logoShe is the recipient of a 2013 PA ESGR Patriot Award and instrumental in PNC receiving the Secretary of Defense Freedom Award. Having twice been named in the nation’s top five finalists for Individual Excellence in Veteran Employment by the US Chamber of Commerce, her commitment and passion to the veteran community is exemplary.

Chris holds master’s degrees in Leadership, Professional and Corporate Communications from Duquesne University and will complete her doctorate from Duquesne in 2022. She has two daughters, two granddaughters and a large family. In her free time, she enjoys reading, entertaining and traveling.

Joining the Guardian Angels executive leadership team at a time of amazing growth and expansion, she will be an integral part of the transformation geared towards furthering the mission and long-term sustainability. Her proven leadership and strategic focus will offer great value to our team and all those we serve.

For information about Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs, visit https://www.medicalservicedogs.org/

Vet-Owned Cinch I.T.’s Mission is to Support Fellow Entrepreneurs

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Side by side images of before and after soldier and now businessman

Richard “Rick” Porter is the owner and president of Cinch I.T.’s fastest growing franchise model. He has an unwavering commitment to helping entrepreneurs make their dreams come true while driving innovation and delivering best-in-class customer service.

A member of the U.S. Army’s Special Operation community, Porter is the recipient of the Worcester Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 and was named one of the Top 10 Best CEOs of 2018.

He is also a board member for the Better Business Bureau of Central and Western Massachusetts and founder of the Cinch Scholarship Foundation.

U.S. Veterans Magazine had the chance to sit down with Porter and learn more about Cinch I.T. below:

How did you find your way into the Info Tech industry after leaving the service?

I joined the United State Army as an old man! At least compared to most of the other recruits. My family encouraged me to go to college and get a degree before enlisting and I thought that was good sound advice. So, after high school, I started college and began working full time for a tech company in Massachusetts. After my service, it was just what came naturally to me. I settled back into the only other industry that I knew.

Why did you create Cinch I.T.?

I am not the founder, but I was employee number 3 and eventually bought 100 percent ownership of the company as the original founder was looking to move on.

Cinch I.T. was founded in 2004 to help businesses owner become more productive and profitable through better technology. Businesses were becoming more reliant on their technology to simply operate. Business owners were also realizing that their technology was either making them money or costing them money.

There was a need for an IT company who could provide these entrepreneurs with the right technology that would give them a competitive advantage in their industries, and one that would be there every step of the way to support that technology to ensure they remained productive.

How important is it to you that Cinch I.T. is 50 percent veteran-owned and operated?

I believe that veterans can become amazing business owners. They possess all the right qualities, such as discipline, a strong work ethic, attention to detail and many more. Specifically, they can excel in franchising because they have spent their entire military careers following a proven system, processes and standards. “Task, Condition, Standard”

As a veteran myself, I have initiated so many military-inspired processes and built a culture around many military ideologies. Our helpdesk, for example, is set up in “fire teams.” The fireteams are capable of autonomous operations as part of the larger unit, the company.

Bringing veterans into the Cinch I.T. franchise system is important to me because they will fit in with our culture from day one and they will easily adopt our proven process. These two factors will lead to a greater chance of success for them as entrepreneurs. We are not successful if they are not!

How has offering Veteran franchises 50 percent off their initial franchise fee created opportunities for other veterans within your company?

Honestly, I don’t believe veterans choose Cinch I.T. because we offer them 50 percent off their initial franchise fees, but I hope that it makes their journey into entrepreneurship that much easier and that they see how much we appreciate their service and sacrifices.

Why do you feel veterans are great assets to the I.T. industry?

Military veterans learn many roles and skills throughout their service, such as strategic planning, logistics, IT, telecommunications, contingency-planning, risk management, team building, leadership development and character-building. It’s because of this that veterans can quickly master complicated new technologies.

Give a veteran a difficult technical or business problem and they will find the solution. They have the grit and determination to complete the mission.

What are your goals for Cinch I.T. moving forward?

Cinch I.T.’s goal is to expand into most major cities on the East Coast by the end of 2022 while building a strong network of amazing franchise partners who want to grow and thrive together.

Photo Credit: Provided by Cinch I.T.

Discussing Your Strengths in a Job Interview

LinkedIn
interviewees on Zoom call discussing their resumes

When you’re interviewing for a job, there’s a strong chance that a recruiter or potential boss will ask what you believe are your strengths. This is an easy question to answer. Interviewers will certainly want to know that your perceived strengths line up with the position you’re seeking, but they are also interested in whether you’re self-aware and confident. With a little practice, you can answer that question without appearing either arrogant or overly humble. Here’s how.

Show Your Strengths: STAR Method in Action

Talking about your strengths is an opportunity to show why you’d be a great fit for the job and how your skills align with the company or team. The key is to think about what strengths you have that match one or more of the aspects of the job description. A strength can be either a technical skill or a soft skill, such as teamwork or communication.

Once you’ve decided which of your strengths you want to feature, it’s time to identify real life examples where you’ve demonstrated that strength. The best way to approach behavioral questions is to use the STAR method. This helps you break down a scenario and explain how you successfully navigated it.

Situation: Offer some background on the task or challenge that you’ll be addressing.

Task: Define what your role and responsibilities were for the particular situation.

Action: Explain what steps you took or ideas you offered to help solve the problem or tackle that challenge.

Result: Share how the situation was resolved, highlighting how your actions helped reach that conclusion.

Here’s an example:

If you interview for a position that requires you to lead or even be part of a team, you might choose to say one of your strengths is leadership.

Situation: I volunteer as a gardener at a local park and enjoy working with new volunteers.

Task: The park identified a need to educate new volunteers about native plants.

Action: I organized a training session to teach my team members about native plants.

Result: The new volunteers found it so useful that the training is now part of the new volunteer onboarding process.

In this scenario, an interviewer might recognize your ability to take initiative to address needs and lead a new volunteer training. While this answer may seem simple, it demonstrates your strength in both initiative and leadership, which are valuable traits to all employers.

If you find it is hard to identify your strengths, consider your ability to:

  • Collaborate
  • Solve problems
  • Take direction and focus on tasks
  • Use technology
  • Lead or mentor

Rehearsing your answers can also help you feel prepared when heading into your next interview. Common interview questions to consider include:

  • “Why do you want this job?”
  • “Tell me about a time when you had to learn something quickly but knew nothing about it before.”
  • “Tell me about a time you made a mistake.”
  • “Tell me about a goal you set and how you achieved it.”
  • “What is one of your weaknesses?”

Reflect on your skills and accomplishments. Think about why they qualify you to succeed in the job you’re applying for. Think about the strengths of your professional role models and whether you have some of those same qualities. Consider a time when a teammate shared something they admired about you. Or think back to any times you received recognition for your work and what skills allowed you to shine.

Source: Ticket to Work

What STEM Careers are in High Demand?

LinkedIn
man working outside with safety vest on

Have you ever wondered what the outlook might be for your STEM career five or even ten years out? Or maybe you are a current student weighing your options for a chosen career path and need to know the type of degree that is required.

Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education labor trends and workforce studies experts have culled through the BLS data and have summarized the outlook for several select STEM careers.

With the right information in-hand — and a prestigious research experience to complement your education — you can increase the confidence you have when selecting a STEM career.

Software Developers
There are over 1,469,000 software developers in the U.S. workforce either employed as systems software developers or employed as applications software developers. Together, employment for software developers is projected to grow 22 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Software developers will be needed to respond to an increased demand for computer software because of an increase in the number of products that use software. The need for new applications on smart phones and tablets will also increase the demand for software developers. Software developers are the creative minds behind computer programs. Some develop the applications that allow people to do specific tasks on a computer or another device. Others develop the underlying systems that run the devices or that control networks. Most jobs in this field require a degree in computer science, software engineering, or a related field and strong computer programming skills.

Software developers are in charge of the entire development process for a software program from identifying the core functionality that users need from software programs to determining requirements that are unrelated to the functions of the software, such as the level of security and performance. Software developers design each piece of an application or system and plan how the pieces will work together. This often requires collaboration with other computer specialists to create optimum software.

Atmospheric Scientists
Atmospheric sciences include fields such as climatology, climate science, cloud physics, aeronomy, dynamic meteorology, atmosphere chemistry, atmosphere physics, broadcast meteorology and weather forecasting.

Most jobs in the atmospheric sciences require at least a bachelor’s degree in atmospheric science or a related field that studies the interaction of the atmosphere with other scientific realms such as physics, chemistry or geology. Additionally, courses in remote sensing by radar and satellite are useful when pursuing this career path.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer models have greatly improved the accuracy of forecasts and resulted in highly customized forecasts for specific purposes. The need for atmospheric scientists working in private industry is predicted to increase as businesses demand more specialized weather information for time-sensitive delivery logistics and ascertaining the impact of severe weather patterns on industrial operations. The demand for atmospheric scientists working for the federal government will be subject to future federal budget constraints. The BLS projects employment of atmospheric scientists to grow by 8 percent over the 2018 to 2028 period. The largest employers of atmospheric scientists and meteorologists are the federal government, research and development organizations in the physical, engineering, and life sciences, state colleges and universities and television broadcasting services.

Electrical and Electronics Engineers
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are approximately 324,600 electrical and electronics engineers in the U.S. workforce. Workers in this large engineering occupation can be grouped into two large components — electrical engineers and electronics engineers. About 188,300 electrical engineers design, develop, test or supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment, such as power generation equipment, electrical motors, radar and navigation systems, communications, systems and the electrical systems of aircraft and automobiles. They also design new ways to use electricity to develop or improve products. Approximately 136,300 electronics engineers design and develop electronic equipment such as broadcast and communications equipment, portable music players, and Global Positioning System devices, as well as working in areas closely related to computer hardware. Engineers whose work is devoted exclusively to computer hardware are considered computer hardware engineers. Electrical and electronics engineers must have a bachelor’s degree, and internships and co-op experiences are a plus.

The number of jobs for electrical engineers is projected by BLS to grow slightly faster (9 percent) than the average for all engineering occupations in general (8 percent) and faster than for electronics engineers (4 percent) as well. However, since electrical and electronics engineering is a larger STEM occupation, growth in employment is projected to result in over 21,000 new jobs over the 2016-2026 period. The largest employers of electrical engineers are engineering services firms; telecommunications firms; the federal government; electric power generation, transmission and distribution organizations such as public and private utilities; semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturers; organizations specializing in research and development (R&D) in the physical, engineering and life sciences; and navigational, measuring, electro-medical and control systems manufacturers.

BLS notes three major factors influencing the demand for electrical and electronic engineers. One, the need for technological innovation will increase the number of jobs in R&D, where their engineering expertise will be needed to design power distribution systems related to new technologies. They will also play important roles in developing solar arrays, semiconductors and communications technologies, such as 5G. Two, the need to upgrade the nation’s power grids and transmission components will drive the demand for electrical engineers. Finally, a third driver of demand for electrical and electronic engineers is the design and development of ways to automate production processes, such as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems and Distributed Control Systems (DCS).

Data Science and Data Analysts
Technological advances have made it faster and easier for organizations to acquire data. Coupled with improvements in analytical software, companies are requiring data in more ways and higher quantities than ever before, and this creates many important questions for them, including “Who do we hire to work with this data”? The answer is likely a Data Scientist.

When trying to answer the question “what is data science,” Investopedia defines it as providing “meaningful information based on large amounts of complex data or big data. Data science, or data-driven science, combines different fields of work in statistics and computation to interpret data for decision-making purposes.” This includes data engineers, operations research analysts, statisticians, data analysts and mathematicians.

The BLS projects the employment of statisticians and mathematicians to grow 30 percent from 2018-2028, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. According to the source, organizations will increasingly need statisticians to organize and analyze data in order to help improve business processes, design and develop new products and advertise products to potential customers. In addition, the large increase in available data from global internet use has created new areas for analysis such as examining internet search information and tracking the use of social media and smartphones. In the medical and pharmaceutical industries, biostatisticians will be needed to conduct the research and clinical trials necessary for companies to obtain approval for their products from the Food and Drug Administration.

Along with that of statistician, the employment of operations research analysts is projected by the BLS to grow by 26 percent from 2018-2028, again much faster than the average for all occupations. As organizations across all economic sectors look for efficiency and cost savings, they seek out operations research analysts to help them analyze and evaluate their current business practices, supply chains and marketing strategies in order to improve their ability to make wise decisions moving forward. Operations research analysts are also frequently employed by the U.S. Armed Forces and other governmental groups for similar purposes.

To learn more about other flourishing careers in STEM, visit bls.gov/ooh to learn more.

Source: Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education

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