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

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.

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

Discussing Your Strengths in a Job Interview

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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?

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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

Unique opportunities: Five entry-level jobs at VA you might not know existed

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woman working at VA meeting with veteran about benefits wearing face mask for social distancing

While you may immediately associate careers at VA with clinical roles and medical professions, there are a number of entry-level jobs that keep the wheels running smoothly.

Let’s take a look at five unique positions that you might not have realized are available on our team.

Administrative assistant

You’ll find administrative assistants in nearly every department at VA, working to assist administrative leadership and professional staff with clerical duties.
 
As an administrative assistant, you’ll have a healthy dose of responsibilities in your day-to-day work, as you’ll be integral to the smooth management of your department. Policies, budgets, fiscal management, personnel, logistics or even property management may fall to you in your daily duties.

Motor vehicle operator

Drive patient transport vehicles – including emergency vehicles, vans, buses and more – as a motor vehicle operator.

You’ll shuttle Veterans to and from VA Medical Center facilities, private health care facilities, Veteran’s homes or even railways, bus stations or airports. You might be called upon to operate cars, station wagons, vans, pick-ups and panel, stake or open-bed trucks.

In addition to driving, you will be responsible for the maintenance of your vehicles, both interior and exterior, keeping them in a clean and serviceable condition for your passengers. Inspecting your vehicles for wear and tear and reporting concerns to the appropriate department also falls under your responsibilities.

Prosthetic representative

A prosthetic representative helps provide prosthetic and sensory aids services to Veterans. They also work directly with Veterans and clinical teams to assist Veterans in applying for automobile adaptive equipment, home improvement and structural alterations, and clothing allowances.

You may also conduct home visits with other health care providers to assess a Veteran’s home for upgrades or equipment necessary to improving patient quality of life. Record-keeping is also a large part of the job, as you will be responsible for providing documentation management surrounding your efforts to assist Veterans.

Recreation therapist

Provide recreation therapy and diversional activities for the residents of VA’s Community Living Centers as a recreation therapist.

You’ll need a general understanding of the leisure needs of a variety of patient populations to evaluate the history, interests and skills of patients to establish better guidelines for individual projects.

You’ll also administer and interpret a wide variety of creative skills tests and interviews to evaluate mental, emotional, social, spiritual and physical capabilities of patients. The ability to motivate others is essential, as you may need to encourage not only your patients, but those who assist you with the care of these Veterans, too.

Transportation assistant

A transportation assistant reviews and authorizes travel and lodging requests for Veterans traveling from their home to VA medical appointments.

As a transportation assistant, you may find yourself providing and coordinating transportation through VA resources or non-VA common carriers. You may also be making reservations for lodging for Veterans and their families, making sure all the necessary paperwork is complete to make their trip as smooth as possible.

Work at VA

Roles like these – whether administrativetechnical or support – may not immediately come to mind when you think of VA, but these roles are important to VA and the Veterans we serve. Browse these careers and more as your first step toward a career at VA.

NOTE: Positions listed in this post were open at the time of publication. All current available positions are listed at USAJobs.gov.

Military Veteran Finds Passion in Public Service: Meet NFBPA’s Demetrius Payton

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NFBPA’s Demetrius Payton poses in uniform and additional headshot within the same frame

On March 30, 2022, the National Forum for Black Public Administrators (NFBPA), the principal and most progressive organization dedicated to the advancement of black public leadership in local and state governments, will host its Annual Forum in beautiful Grand Rapids, Mich.

The four-day conference allows public service professionals to gain practical and transferable skills they can apply immediately. It was events like Forum that drew Demetrius Payton to the organization. Demetrius Payton (pictured) is a director of infrastructure & operations at CPS Energy.

CPS Energy is the nation’s largest municipally-owned energy utility providing both natural gas and electric service. Serving more than 840,750 electric customers and 352,585 natural gas customers in and around San Antonio, the nation’s seventh-largest city. He is responsible for overseeing the Technical Services department, which includes the Infrastructure Server Team, Network Engineering & Collaboration Team and Data Center & Operations, which includes business process, compliance and patching.

Payton served 15 years in the United States Air Force Reserves. He was deployed during Desert Storm and Operation Enduring Freedom. Payton retired after 10 years from military service where he served as a commissioned officer in the Medical Service Corps of the U.S. Army Reserves.

Payton, who is originally from Leesville, La., holds a Bachelor of Science in Electronic Technology and a Bachelor of Science in Business from Wayland Baptist University. Payton also holds a Master of Arts in Computer Resources and Information Management from Webster University. In 2018, he completed the National Forum for Black Public Administrator’s Executive Leadership Program (ELP), a program dedicated to grooming African American managers for the rigors of executive positions in public service organizations.

NFBPA sat down with Payton to talk about his time in the service, challenges faced in civilian employment and inspirations:

How did the military prepare you for your career in local government?
The military allowed me to understand structure and protocol. The military also gave me stewardship experience with resources for our country. I have that same responsibility in my public sector career.

What were some challenges you faced in your career adjusting to civilian work?
I think the biggest challenge was around understanding all of the visibility and transparency required in this civilian job versus my military job. We have a Board and Senior Leadership Team that is required to approve capital procurement.

Three qualities needed to be successful in your role:
My role is director for infrastructure and operations, but I feel that a CIO has to be trustworthy, be able to communicate vision and set the stage for innovation in their organization.

Can you relate your military career to what you want to do next?
I think I always want to serve my community. I left a lucrative paying job in the private sector for an opportunity to work in the public sector. I feel like it’s my calling to serve others.

Who had the greatest influence on you growing up and in your career?
I had several influences that coached and mentored me throughout my military and civilian careers. But if I had to choose one individual, I would say it was my good coach Ralph Miles at the Air Force Center for Environmental Excellence. He taught me things about being a good leader, a good teammate and a good human being.

Would you recommend local government after military life?
Local government and politics impact nearly every aspect of our lives. To me, going from the military to local government seems like a natural progression and a way for a member to impact their community.

What job in the military prepared you most for a career in local government / the public sector?
My last role in the military was Battalion S6 Security Officer.

If you could be or do anything else – what would you do or be?
Silly as it sounds, I would love to be an owner of a professional sports team. It’s been my dream since I was a little boy.

What’s one word you would use to describe yourself?
Determined.

Payton has been married to his wife, Michelle Payton for 32 years. They share three children and three grandchildren. He has been a member of his local church for over 34 years and his passion is fundraising for the American Cancer Society.

3 Tactics for Leveraging Your Military Career in the Private Sector

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Soldier working on a laptop with US Flag in the background

by Ben Garrison

The ability to find moments of joy can be a key to professional success. I find this as a Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) Dungeon Master, and I found it to be true in my 14 years in the Army.

Today in the private sector, I get great satisfaction when I’m able to walk a peer through a tech challenge and empower that person in their use of technology.

With D&D, you don’t know how things are going to turn out — but the journey is the joy. With the right mindset, the same can be true with the not-always-easy transition from military to civilian life. This uniquely challenging process faces the approximately 8.5 million veterans in today’s workforce, including nearly half a million veterans who are currently seeking employment. Employers may not be well informed about how your skills are transferrable to the private sector. Veterans may be facing the challenges of PTSD or other mental health issues associated with their service.

Fortunately, drawing on parallels can help you move beyond the challenges. So, to my veteran peers who are looking to work in or who already work in the private sector, I offer the following three tactics for success in the civilian workplace.

1. Leverage the flexibility you learned in the military.
I spent 14 years in the Army National Guard. I was aware that plans — for an individual, for the military, for our country — change instantly.

Many businesses change rapidly, too. That’s certainly the case with technology and has absolutely been the case as all of us adapt to the ongoing changes triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s strategy won’t necessarily be tomorrow’s strategy. This uncertainty can be stressful or jarring for some, but veterans have a certain kind of superpower that comes with understanding how to cope with and thrive in a shifting environment.

2. Learn continuously.
In the Army, as well as in IT today, processes and equipment changed rapidly. New active-duty assignments brought new training (and retraining) requirements. The Army also taught me how to take many things in stride.

Tapping into your natural curiosity can point you in the direction of professional success. In my case, wanting to know how things work helped lead me toward a career in IT — first in the Army, then in the private sector. Learning on the fly, always part of the military experience, is excellent preparation for the workforce.

Our economy and its drivers are undergoing rapid change. Key to individual success in the midst of it all: the ability to learn and grow. This can take many forms. Become familiar with best practices for your job search, such as how to optimize LinkedIn and other job boards. Dig into the benefits available through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA). Explore continuing education that will help you advance your particular career goals.

3. Communicate clearly.
In the military, when your supervisor needs information to make the right decision, you must be ready to provide your expertise efficiently and confidently — no matter your rank.

Interacting candidly with service members of all ranks and from all walks of life prepared me to communicate with teammates of all backgrounds. In the business world, you need to be as confident talking to your CEO as you are talking to any other colleague. Rely on your experiences to get your point across in a respectful way. Not only can this help you gain the ear and respect of senior staff, it will help you find the joy of personal “a ha!” moments when you deploy your expertise in a way that helps others.

The private sector presents new challenges and new opportunities. Remember: you’ve been in tougher situations. You can do this.

Following 14 years in the Army National Guard, Ben Garrison now serves as a Technical Evangelist for JumpCloud. He is a D&D Dungeon Master and player, and a self-proclaimed overall nerd.

How Being a Veteran Has Helped Me in the Tech Field

LinkedIn
Alexis Blakes stands with arms folded in confident pose smiling

By Alexis Blakes

Discipline, leadership, teamwork and consistency. Regardless of when or how long you served in the U.S. military, you have displayed and witnessed these four key skills.

From the belly of the motor pool to the theatre of combat, these skills guide the actions of all service members and leaders so routinely that it often becomes second nature — heavily influencing the execution of both minor and major missions. These skills were instrumental in shaping and preparing me for both my career path and personal growth within the technology field, and it all starts with the defining principle.

Discipline Is Resolute

A defining principle is the primary objective that you are in pursuit of. The defining principle of a mission could be as conceptually simple as seizing the high ground or complex as mitigating operational mission costs. In either regard, the defining principle should be clear, concise and adaptable.

During my four-and-a-half-years on active duty with the U.S. Army, I was privileged to serve under leaders who exhibited profound foresight concerning mission objectives, and this in turn nurtured my ability to adapt to changes, anticipate problems and execute directives under unfavorable conditions. In the military, this once meant an unplanned five klick convoy movement around an endangered tortoise in the dead of night. But these days it looks more like maintaining operational capacity and availability of approximately $1 billion worth of data center cloud computing hardware and equipment during a potentially devastating wildfire season.

I’ve found that being a service member has put me at an advantage at work because nearly everything we do in the military — from maintaining living quarters in the barracks to traveling home on leave — requires a thorough plan, defining principle and discipline in execution. As a data center lead at Amazon Web Services, my defining principle is to promote the safest, most effective and cohesive environment possible for my team and this guides my actions daily. Discipline is resolute — even when motivation or morale may not be.

Real Leadership is a Commitment to the Team

While discipline is foundational, leadership and teamwork are supplemental. Both in tech and in the military, I was and am a member of a team. You might be a fast solo runner, but in formation you’re only as fast as the slowest runner, and that is an incentive to help others improve. Sometimes there are shared goals that can only be achieved together.

From pride to privilege, real leaders make sacrifices for others and lead from the front. Accepting this as truth, I try to embody this principle in my work. No task is beneath me. I have days where I’m back to doing physical repairs myself and days where I’m giving classes. My service taught me that leadership is more than being in charge. Sometimes this has meant stepping up to the plate in the absence of a superior and doing work outside of my role. If my team stays late, I stay late. If my team has a grievance, I have a grievance. If you want to go far, we go together. My commitment to the totality of the team even played a role in my promotion. Valuing my team members and assisting them makes the work that I do that much more rewarding.

Consistency is Showing Up, Every Single Day

Being a squared away soldier is a sum of many smaller habits executed every single day. Being consistent creates routine which promotes flow. If you maintain positive habits then you will reap positive returns. I still lay my clothes out the night before, show up 15 minutes early to work, conduct roll call and send out end of day updates to my team. Over time I have trained other leads to do the same. It’s important to show up every single day — including when it’s hard or even when you just don’t feel like it. Tech changes daily and you need to keep the same fire in your belly to keep up and excel. More than a career choice, it’s a lifestyle of curiosity and constant self-improvement.

As it stands, I believe that being a veteran has shaped my experience in tech for the better and given me the tools I need to navigate an ever-changing career landscape. From the moment I clock in to the moment I clock out, I call on my military experiences to assist me in my work. As I reflect on my military service, I can honestly say that I am better prepared for the tech field because of it.

Alexis Blakes is a lead data center technician at Amazon Web Services and an Army veteran who served as Nodal Network Systems Operator/Maintainer. She is also a second-year college student at Columbia Basin College.

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