Comcast NBCUniversal Expands Military Hiring Goal

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group of diverse employees seated in a row of chairs talking amongst each other

Comcast NBCUniversal will hire an additional 11,000 veterans, military spouses, and National Guard and Reserve members, bringing its total to 21,000 military hires by the end of 2021.

Comcast’s previous commitment, made in 2015, was to hire 10,000 military community members by the end of 2017, which it exceeded.

“Comcast NBCUniversal has greatly benefitted since we began our focus on hiring members of the military community in 2010, and we are pleased with our progress. We now have thousands of military employees across the country who have translated their valuable experiences in the armed forces to our workforce,” said Dave Watson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Comcast Cable. “We are so thankful that these individuals chose to serve our country, and we are proud to call them teammates as they now help to serve our customers and make a meaningful difference in our company.”

Comcast NBCUniversal has an expansive program to support veterans who have recently transitioned into the workforce, including peer-to-peer mentorship with other veteran employees, digital and in-person professional development opportunities designed specifically for veteran and military spouse employees, and opportunities to stay engaged with the military through volunteering with local veteran-serving organizations. The company also has an 8,400-member strong VetNet employee resource group dedicated to supporting our military workforce.

“I’m incredibly proud that the entire Comcast NBCUniversal family embraced our commitment, showing our support for the military community through not only our hiring efforts, but also through support of veteran-serving non-profit organizations and work with veteran-owned businesses,” said Brigadier General (Ret.) Carol Eggert, Senior Vice President of Military and Veteran Affairs at Comcast NBCUniversal.

The company announced that its Internet Essentials program expanded eligibility to low-income veterans, nearly one million of whom live within the Comcast’s service area. The expansion will be furthered through new nationwide partnerships with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation and the PsychArmor Institute, two of America’s leading veteran-serving non-profit organizations that will help support the creation of veteran-specific digital skills training videos and supplementary materials, which will be made available online and delivered in classrooms at Comcast-sponsored computer labs in 10 markets. The goal is to connect more low-income veterans to Internet resources, including: online social support networks, health benefits, access to colleges and scholarship programs, digital and technical skills training programs, as well as news, games, and entertainment.

Additionally, this year, the company became a founding partner of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring 100,000 Military Spouses campaign, which is raising awareness of military spouse unemployment and encouraging employers to make military spouse hiring commitments, ultimately resulting in a combined 100,000 military spouses hired by the end of 2021. Military spouses are still unemployed at a rate of 16 percent, over four times the rate of their civilian counterparts, and Comcast NBCUniversal is committed to helping to close that gap and hiring these talented individuals who have already given so much to our country.

Source: Comcast Corporation

Ways to Boost Your Confidence While Transitioning

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Man using smart phone to search online for companies hiring

Transitioning from military service to a civilian career comes with a host of emotions—excitement, hope and perhaps some uncertainty, especially in the wait for job offers.

As you establish your “new normal” and move into a new civilian career at VA or with another employer, maintaining a self-care routine can make that shift easier.

Here are seven ways to boost your confidence as you transition from military to civilian employment.

1. Check in with your friends
During your military career, you built a support system of contacts, and some of them may have already transitioned to a civilian career. Get talking! Opening up about your experiences solicits stories from other service members who made the move. Gain confidence knowing that you are not alone and learn strategies and tactics from others.

2. Keep an exercise routine
In general, physical activity is great for our health. But in times of transition, it’s even more important to care for your physical and mental health. Exercise boosts your mood and gets you out of the house. Consider trying out a new sport or fitness class. Need to join a gym? Check out your local YMCA, which may partner with the area VA facility to offer special services and rates for veterans.

3. Attend military transition classes
The U.S. Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP) offers military transition classes at every military installation, online and at other locations such as VA offices. TAP classes begin during your last year of service—after you have an identified separation plan. The program includes group classes particular to each service branch, briefings from VA and other agencies with veteran programs, and job and transition counselors.

4. Find a mentor
We all benefit from hearing stories from folks who have paved the way ahead of us. A mentor is a great resource in any job search, and especially for service members transitioning to civilian careers. Find someone who shares your values and have a clear idea of what you want to get out of the relationship. If you don’t have an ideal candidate in your network, search online for veteran mentor matching programs like Veterati (https://www.veterati.com/).

5. Seek out VA services
VA has you covered! We know the value of hiring veterans and have many programs available to transitioning military service members. VA works with DoD to create TAP classes and briefings. VA for Vets aids transitioning members seeking post-service jobs. And through VA Careers, veterans can identify themselves in the application process and get support from VA throughout the hiring process.

6. Leverage online resources.
There’s a multitude of online resources available to transitioning service members. You can find trainings, job boards, employers who specialize in hiring veterans, mentoring resources and online chat help. VA Careers’ Transitioning Military Personnel page and TAP are good places to start.

7. Volunteer your time.
If job offers don’t come right away, giving back is a great way to make new connections and establish yourself in the community. Volunteer in a field that’s similar to your chosen career path to get experience and build your resume.

Source: Department of Veteran Affairs

RedWhiteandCool Program Draws Vets into Refrigeration Industry

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Five RedWhiteandColl founders stand in line together smiling

The Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians Association (RETA) and Smithfield Foods, Inc. are pleased to announce RedWhiteandCool, an initiative focused on recruiting, training and hiring transitioning military veterans into the natural refrigeration industry as refrigeration technicians.

“There is a shortage of skilled labor in our country, and the commercial and natural refrigeration industry is not exempt,” said Lois Stirewalt of RETA. “There are currently more than 40,000 jobs open nationally for refrigeration technicians. At the same time, many veterans remain unemployed once they transition to civilian live. RedWhiteandCool is taking action to address this very issue.”

The RedWhiteandCool program will work hand in hand with the Department of Defense and transitioning military personnel, family members and veterans to recruit them into the commercial refrigeration industry. The partnership, administered by RETA’s non-profit arm— RETA-Training Institute (RETA-TI)—in conjunction with the Department of Defense SkillBridge program, is the organization’s newest Career Skills Program (CSP).

Transitioning military veterans met with program staff during an information session in February to learn more about the training program and refrigeration industry. Participants will receive certification testing at the end of the program and have the opportunity to interview for a career with Smithfield Foods as part of the company’s veteran hiring initiative.

“Supporting the men and women who have served our country is core to who we are as an American company,” said Keira Lombardo, executive vice president of corporate affairs and compliance for Smithfield Foods and president of the Smithfield Foundation. “We owe a debt of gratitude to our veterans; this training and transition program is just one way we demonstrate our appreciation.”

For more information, please visit: www.RETA.com and/or www.smithfieldfoods.com

Photo:
Bruce Owens, Director, Infrastructure Engineering (Smithfield Foods); Clarence Scott, Talent Acquisition Specialist (Smithfield Foods); Lois Stirewalt (RETA); Jim Barron (RETA executive director); Troy Vandenberg, Military Talent Acquisition Manager (Smithfield Foods)

5 Ways Veterans Can Leverage Facebook to Grow their Career or Business

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By Payton Iheme, U.S. Public Policy Manager, Facebook

Each year, an estimated 200,000 service members return to civilian life and for some, this brings uncertainty to what’s next in their career, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

However, these service men and women continue to contribute to their country, even when they return, albeit in a different way.

I have spent more than 15 years on active duty and continue to serve—from being an officer in the Army’s Special Operations Command and a White House Senior Policy Advisor to currently a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army National Guard. In addition, as the co-owner of a home remodeling business, I know firsthand how important it is to have the right tools and support, whether it’s in the military or as a veteran small business owner.

Everyday Facebook serves as a platform for veterans to find and be a part of groups that help them build community. In fact, more than 900,000 people in the US participate in more than 2,000 groups for military members, veterans and their spouses on Facebook.

As a proud supporter of the military-veteran community, Facebook has also made it easier for veterans transitioning into civilian life to find career opportunities and draw on their unique skills to start their entrepreneurial journey.

That’s why we recently announced the launch of the Military and Veterans Hub to provide an all-encompassing resource for veterans to continue to build their community, find job opportunities and enhance their digital skills through Facebook to grow a business or a career.

Facebook also partnered with SCORE, the nation’s largest network of volunteer expert business mentors, to provide business education and mentoring to military members, veterans and their families who want to become entrepreneurs.

I utilized SCORE’s resources during my transition into civilian life and it helped me not only build on my experience and skills to find a new career, but it also gave me the confidence to start something new. I’m particularly thrilled about our partnership with SCORE and the opportunities it will unlock for fellow veterans.

Whether you want to build a business or a career, here are five ways military members, spouses and veterans can use Facebook’s Military and Veteran Hub to their advantage:

  1. Connect with a mentor from a cohort of SCORE’s experienced business mentors, who are also U.S. veterans themselves, through the Mentor Match program.
  1. Access our veteran-focused educational toolkit for launching a business that includes steps

for developing a business plan.

  1. Attend a veteran-focused interactive workshop to receive guidance on starting a business.

We’ll be working with ten local SCORE chapters to bring these in-person workshops to cities that we’ve determined to have a high concentration of military members and veterans.

  1. Find employment opportunities through the Facebook Jobs Tool. Frank Diaz, an Army veteran and owner of Tin Hut BBQ, uses the Facebook Jobs Tool, for example, to source employees at his mobile restaurant with an objective to hire discharged veterans in need of work and mentorship.
  1. Test out the Facebook Military Skills Translator, designed to help people find careers on Facebook relevant to their military experience. As the Public Policy Manager at Facebook, I’m proud to be a part of a company that values my experience and allows me to use my military skills to make an impact on the business.

Facebook’s Military and Veteran Hub make it easier for military spouses and the military community to find and access Facebook’s resources, tools, events and groups. For more information, visit: https://www.facebook.com/boost/milvethub?path=milvethub

Payton Iheme (Facebook US Public Policy) focuses on policy issues on a range of topics, but works closely on issues related to the Internet, digital economy/small business, counter terrorism, cybersecurity, data privacy, and partnerships. Previously, she served as the Senior Policy Advisor for Communication Technology at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. She holds honor degrees from the University of Texas and a master’s degree in Government Policy from the George Washington University. Iheme currently serves as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army National Guard.

Air Force general confirmed as first black chief of a U.S. military service

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General Charles Q. Brown in uniform

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Gen. Charles Q. Brown to be the next Air Force chief of staff, making him the first African American leader of a military service as the Pentagon and the country grapple with a raft of racial issues.

The confirmation also makes Brown the second African American officer to sit on the Joint Chiefs of Staff since Chairman Gen. Colin Powell.

The 98-to-0 vote was a blowout approval for the four-star general. Vice President Mike Pence presided over the historic vote.

President Donald Trump, who nominated Brown in March, hailed the general on Twitter.

“My decision to appoint @usairforce General Charles Brown as the USA’s first-ever African American military service chief has now been approved by the Senate,” Trump said, though the tweet came before the confirmation vote. “A historic day for America! Excited to work even more closely with Gen. Brown, who is a Patriot and Great Leader!”

Brown’s nomination had been in the works for months, yet the vote came amid nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd in police custody. Top Air Force officials led the way in speaking out over the past week and calling for dialogue on racism. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Kaleth Wright, the service’s top enlisted leader, became the first senior military official to speak out, and was followed by outgoing Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein.

Brown, who is currently the commander of Pacific Air Forces, delivered an emotional message Friday about his experience as a black airman.

In addition to becoming the first African American service chief, Brown will be the most senior African American Pentagon leader since Powell chaired the Joint Chiefs from 1989 to 1993.

“I’m thinking about how full I am with emotion, not just for George Floyd but for the many African Americans that have suffered the same fate as George Floyd,” Brown said. “I’m thinking about a history of racial issues and my own experiences that didn’t always sing of liberty and equality.

“Without clear-cut answers, I just want to have the wisdom and knowledge to lead during difficult times like these,” Brown said of his nomination to be the service’s top officer. “I want the wisdom and knowledge to lead, participate in and listen to necessary conversations on racism, diversity and inclusion.”

Continue on to Politico to read the complete article.

From Battalions to Business Degrees

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Graduating group of veterans lined up to accept their business degrees in caps and gowns shown from behind

If you happen to be one of the millions of veterans leaving the military for civilian life, you face a daunting challenge. You may have flown a gunship; you may have driven a tank; you may have commanded a unit…but how do you convince a corporate recruiter that this counts as management experience?

Tom Tarantino, chief policy officer for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, admitted to US military newspaper, “The civilian business community does not understand military service skills and how to translate them. But they want to.”

Business education can help those with a military background segue into the business world, by equipping them with the means to see how the skills from their previous career can be utilized in a different context. Simply put, an MBA teaches you to speak the language of business.

After years, or even decades in leadership positions, today’s veterans have considerable professional experience – which is very applicable to the business world. A military background, therefore, means that they are often well-prepared for management roles. Despite this, hiring executives are often skeptical and wonder how frontline experience translates to the front office.

To help uncover the challenges and advantages of an MBA education for a veteran, we spoke with Major Grégori Bassaud, who at the time of writing, was pursuing an International MBA (IMBA) at EMLYON Business School in France.

Being a veteran can mean management experience

A married 43-year-old father of two young children, Bassaud is a career officer. He spent 21 years in the French marine corps. His service was primarily spent in airborne units where he rose up the ranks as a platoon leader, a company commander and finally as a staff officer (deputy chief ops in his battalion). He’s been deployed abroad several times, including one-year tours in French Guyana and two-year tours in Réunion Island and Martinique. A skydive specialist, Bassuad has 600 freefall jumps to his name and has been awarded the National Order of Service Merit.

During his time at EMLYON, Bassaud has been impressed with the school’s lecturers, particularly with “their in-depth knowledge in their respective fields; their ability to make it simple whatever the difficulties may be.” He notes that he considered alternative graduate degrees which were less expensive than an MBA, but in the end was convinced that the return on investment would make it worthwhile. “The advantages include relevant events like the career forum, with more than 300 companies, regular testimonies from alumni through the IMBA mentoring program, which gives you access to people holding great positions. Being at EMLYON is already being in business, already being in a professional environment where you learn everyday through the context alone.”

What advantages do you think people with a military background have when they pursue an MBA?

Seniority and maturity, which offer two advantages. First real management experience: the average age of my cohort is barely 30. Only a few of my classmates have real management experience and even that is very limited—they only managed four to five people; I had to manage more than 200.

Secondly, both of your feet are on the ground. When you have gained professional experience in more than 15 countries, worked with a huge and various range of stakeholders – belligerents, allies from various countries, NGOs, diplomats, politicians, religious representatives – you have fewer certainties than your classmates. Your approach to case studies is more careful and exhaustive, you pay more attention to the details and your judgement is often rather softer than your colleagues’ – which might not be what people expect from those who’ve served in the military.

Why do you think people with a military background should consider earning an MBA?

A military background can be useful in terms of soft skills, but you also have to take into consideration your weaknesses when it comes to hard skills such as accounting, finance, marketing, and corporate strategy. Although an MBA does not provide deep insight into all of these fields, except strategy, the very broad range of topics covered gives you the sufficient tools to successfully take up your targeted position.

You should not ignore the benefit of spending a year with people younger than you when pursuing a full-time MBA. Despite their limited background, they have already gained interesting experiences and they are up-to-date, always aware of the latest technology, the latest apps, the latest online tools, etc. A year with them is an accelerated course of training in the latest trends.

How do you think networking is different for someone with a military background?

MBAs are not as widely acknowledged by employers in France as they might be elsewhere, on top of which companies can be hesitant when dealing with candidates with atypical profiles. Even companies that are aware of MBAs expect a classic career path—for instance, an engineering degree followed by an initial professional experience, then an MBA. When coming from the army, networking is much more complicated. You have to rely more on the network of former military personnel who made the switch than on the school’s alumni network. Due to this additional difficulty, having the intensive support of your career services office is useful.

After adhering to a regimented military timetable, how do you handle the challenges of attending study and social functions that happen in the late evening?

As a matter of fact, veterans are used to extended shifts. Being accustomed to early morning hours makes your life easier. You are always on time. Many of your classmates are not, despite regular warnings by the faculty. The main challenge is combining the workload with your family life, which is definitely a huge challenge. Only 10% of my classmates have children. The pace of the course is definitely set for monks, or at least for people with total freedom.

Studies suggest that people who are physically fit are also more successful in their careers. If this is true – do you think it’s another advantage for a military person?

The first thing to point out is not all military veterans remain physically fit. However, in my case, some of my classmates were surprised that I was so physically fit for my age. I also had a comparable feedback from a headhunter, telling me that it presented a good image. So I agree that it is a kind of presentation skill.

Source: topmba.com

Healthcare Careers in 2020: An In-Demand Industry

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Confident black doctor in healthcare face mask and gloves

Healthcare careers are part of the fastest growing industry for job growth and development in the United States. This trend is expected to continue over the next decade.

Projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that healthcare jobs are expected to increase by 18 percent from 2016 through 2026. This means that the industry will add about 2.4 million new healthcare jobs.

Why Healthcare?

There are several aspects that lead people to consider an exciting and rewarding career in healthcare. From potential financial reward and a diverse environment to career growth and personal fulfillment, there’s plenty of opportunities available and reasons to enter the field.

Healthcare Industries

Healthcare is a wide-spanning industry encompassing a variety of jobs. The profession is no longer tied to some of the more traditional positions in doctors’ offices or hospitals. In fact, the last two decades have seen an eruption in non-doctor roles. Today, healthcare providers are also needed in less mainstream sectors such as marketing, tech positions and more.

Healthcare Career Shortages in the U.S.

This field will add more employees than any other occupation in the coming years, according to the BLS. This is largely due to the accessibility of healthcare and the aging baby boomer generation.

Most recently, retired doctors, nurses and other medical professionals have been recruited and asked to return work to help provide medical attention to patients infected with Covid-19 virus. The US was projected to face a shortage of doctors before the pandemic hit: The Association of American Medical Colleges had estimated that it could reach 46,900 to 121,900 physicians by 2032. And in rural areas, particularly in states such as Mississippi and Arkansas, doctors were already in short supply. Many states are also projected to face significant nursing shortages in the coming years, particularly California and Texas.

Accordingly, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has forecast that healthcare job opportunities will continue to soar through 2025.

Top 10 Medical Careers in Demand For 2020 and Beyond:

Physicians

Registered Nurses (RN’s)

Physical Therapists

Occupational Therapists

Respiratory Therapists

Home Health Aides

Medical Assistant

Physician Assistant

Healthcare Information Technologist

Pharmacy Technician

An Industry Full of Opportunity

Choosing a lasting, profitable, fulfilling career that you can be satisfied with means choosing a profession in healthcare. Many career benefits of healthcare include improving the lives of others and making a difference. The financial benefits, tremendous growth and high paying careers are limitless. It’s never too late to pursue a career in the medical field.

Source: medbrainmedia.com, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, gmercyu.edu

Wells Fargo Employee Veterans Share their Transition Story

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military people in uniform walking then transitioning to civilian professional attire. Side view.

In May and throughout the year, Wells Fargo pays tribute to service members, veterans, and their families for their contributions to the U.S.

It is also an opportunity to spotlight and elevate the many women in leadership at Wells Fargo who come from various branches of the U.S. military.

These women have transitioned to the corporate world and continue to make an impact in their corporate and civilian lives.

Meet two dynamic women who have influenced Wells Fargo’s commitment to engage members of the military, veterans, and their families, thereby supporting the financial health and success of the military community.

Learn their background, transition from service, workforce challenges, and advice for other women who are looking at their next opportunity beyond military service.

Senior Vice President, head of Team Member Philanthropy

Wells Fargo employee Chanty Clay, PhD headshot

I am Chanty Clay, PhD, head of Team Member Philanthropy at Wells Fargo, which means I am responsible for the enterprise volunteer and workplace giving programs and initiatives at the company. I made the decision to enlist in the military when I was a 20-year-old college student, and served in the U.S. Air Force for the next 10 years.

After serving in a lead role in the Air Force, I questioned if my leadership skills were strong enough to be a leader in the civilian world. I soon realized that in order for me to maximize my transition experience, I had to own it. I started networking, connecting, and — more importantly — demonstrating the skills I learned from serving my country.

In fact, my doctoral dissertation focused on women veterans and their ability to self-identify, market, and utilize their military-learned interpersonal competencies (soft skills) in their post-military career in corporate America. Today, my role focuses on helping employees leverage their strengths, passion, and skills in volunteer, service, and leadership roles in their local communities. I also continue to serve by mentoring employees and veterans, both inside and outside the company, who are transitioning from the military to civilian life.

My advice for veterans, especially women, is to think holistically about their combined soft and hard skills, and to proactively volunteer for additional opportunities to demonstrate their skills. They should also embrace the reality that opportunities in the civilian workforce are not limited to the role or title you held in the military. The key is to shift your mindset to balance both individual contributions as well as team and camaraderie—all of which are critical in your next career.

Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Auditor

Wells Fargo Employee Julie Scammahorn headshot

My name is Julie Scammahorn, and I am the Chief Auditor for Wells Fargo. I am also a proud 10-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. Growing up in a small town in Virginia, I did not come from a military family. I had completed one year of college when one of my good friends joined the military, and it piqued my interest. I enlisted and eventually served for 10 years before returning to college and continuing a career in internal audit.

Joining the military jump-started my career by giving me intense practical and leadership training. Transitioning to the workforce was challenging—I won’t lie, I felt like I was taking a risk. However, I knew the opportunities I had in the military would translate well to the corporate world.

After holding leadership roles at several financial companies, I now lead Wells Fargo’s Internal Audit organization, consisting of approximately 1,500 employees. Our team delivers independent and objective internal audit services such as assessments and credible challenge regarding the company’s governance, risk management, and control functions. Many of the skills I learned from being in the military prepared me for my role today, including finding my voice, having confidence, mitigating risk, being resilient, and building a strong team.

My advice to women in the armed forces who are navigating their next chapter is to have a plan, know who you are and what you want, and set goals. It’s really important to acknowledge that you don’t have to have all the answers at once, but you should have an idea of the direction you want to go. Take the time to think about your next steps, aim high, and never settle!

Wells Fargo has supported service members and veterans’ financial success for nearly 170 years. For more information on programs and resources, please visit WellsFargo.com/military.

Job Interviews are Going Virtual, Here’s What You Need to Know

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As businesses prepare to open their doors again, the hiring process has begun. Nearly forty million Americans lost their jobs from the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, which means that many of those people will be searching for work and participating in job interviews.

But, as we are still adhering to some social distancing rules, many of these interviews are likely to occur via video call.

Interviewing virtually is an unfamiliar territory, but having a successful, meaningful virtual interview is definitely possible.

Here are the best tips for having the most successful interview on a virtual platform.

  • Presentation
  • As you would for an in-person interview, you want to look presentable. While this means wearing an interview-appropriate outfit, you want to make sure that your background and camera angle are also presentable. Make sure your background is clean, containing as little distractions as possible, and that your computer’s camera is catching the best angle of yourself. This will allow the interviewer to see the best version of yourself while bringing their full attention to what you are saying and not to what else is happening in your environment.

  • Make Eye Contact
  • As you would in a physical job interview, you want to make eye contact with the interviewer. It can be difficult not to look at your own reflection in the video call and worry about how you look to the other party, but remember to look into the computer’s camera to show the interviewer that you are paying attention to what they are saying and are really listening.

  • Remember the Lag
  • Unfortunately, video calls are known to lag and glitch. Neither party is at fault, but be aware of these inconveniences. Talking over the interviewer, accidentally interrupting, audio cutouts, and temporary freezes are bound to happen, so speak slowly and talk only when necessary to avoid these possible interview mishaps.

  • Use Your Resources
  • Virtual interviews allow for better access to virtual resources. Keeping interview notes on your screen and using screen share to give examples of your work will help you to remember your best selling points and show your interviewer what you are capable of.

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.

VA Jobs You May Qualify for With Military Training

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military people in uniform walking then transitioning to civilian professional attire. Side view.

You’ve spent years sacrificing for your country and working hard to protect it. But what happens when it comes times to transitioning to a civilian career? Are job opportunities available to you after military service?

Here’s some good news: You have a variety of options when it comes to a career at VA.

VA Careers has a Transitioning Military Personnel initiative designed to raise awareness about civilian careers for former service members at the nation’s largest integrated health care organization.

In fact, based on certain military occupational specialties you learned in service, you can apply for several positions immediately after your service. Other VA positions offer preference for veteran applicants or are a good fit for those who worked in military health.

The even better news? We offer employees premium-paid health insurance and robust retirement plans. Veterans working at VA also enjoy education support through veteran-focused scholarships, professional development opportunities and accommodations to make the workplace fully accessible.

Ready to kick start a civilian career? Check out these five VA jobs you may be well suited for after military service:

  1. Intermediate Care Technician (ICT)

Former military medic or corpsman should look at ICT careers. As an ICT, you apply your military medical training and skills as a health care provider at a VA medical center (VAMC). You perform complex technician-level diagnostic and treatment procedures. You also provide intermediate and advanced paramedic-level care, intervene in crises and do much more.

  1. Health Technician/Para Rescue Specialist

Former corpsmen and medics bring the skills, abilities and experience acquired during active duty to careers as health technicians. These include delivering direct patient care, taking vital signs, administering medication and communicating results. Other responsibilities include providing diagnostic support and medical assistance to VAMCs and specialty clinics.

  1. Medical Support Assistant (MSA)

MSA positions require tact and diplomacy, and that’s why former military personnel are right for these roles. As the front-line contact with patients and staff, you set the tone for customer service at VA. You use your shared experience to comfort fellow veterans coping with administrative processes or difficult health issues.

  1. Nursing Assistant

Approximately 16 percent of all VA nurses are veterans. That’s not a surprising figure. Former military personnel bring the skills learned during service—working as team, caring for others and supporting a mission—to VA nursing careers. This role involves helping licensed nursing staff provide patient care. Although certification is desirable, it’s not necessary for your application. Nursing staff may take advantage of the special education support programs we offer to earn the degrees and certifications necessary to become a Licensed Practical Nurse or a Registered Nurse.

  1. Support Services

Every team member at VA has a meaningful role to play in the care of veterans, including those in the support services role. These positions include housekeeping aid, federal protective officer, engineering technician or transportation clerk. Housekeeping aides, in particular, are given veteran preference during the hiring process. “Our housekeeping staff keep facilities safe for our patients, and veterans and their families rely on them,” said Darren Sherrard, associate director of VA Recruitment Marketing. “We are actively looking to fill these positions with quality employees, including our veterans.”

Source:  va.gov

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Upcoming Events

  1. Women in Federal Law Enforcement Leadership Training
    August 3, 2020 - August 6, 2020
  2. SkyBall XVIII By Airpower Foundation
    August 21, 2020 - August 22, 2020
  3. 2020 American Society for Health Care Human Resources Association Event
    August 22, 2020 - August 25, 2020
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    August 25, 2020 - August 27, 2020
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    August 31, 2020 - September 2, 2020