Tips for Transitioning to a Fulfilling Civilian Career

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By Todd Skiles

My service in the military was rewarding and invaluable to my development not only as a professional but as a man and an American. It gave me life lessons, a support system and an inner strength that few experiences could replicate.

Returning from active duty can feel a bit like starting back at square one. But if you understand how your time in the military sets you ahead of the pack, you can go from strength to strength in your transition to civilian life. In the corporate world, veterans have the skills that are needed across different fields and industries.

When I first stepped into a management trainee role with Ryder System, Inc., I never expected it would evolve into a successful career in logistics and transportation solutions spanning decades at the company. Over the years, I’ve learned tips and strategies that I believe each transitioning serviceman or -woman can use to set them on the path to success.

Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable

No plan survives first contact with the enemy. But in civilian life, no plan survives the opportunities and challenges of finding a job, a house, a car or obtaining further education. That’s why preparation — learning about your options and taking stock of your military career — can position you to handle whatever life throws at you.

Before you even begin to think about signing your discharge papers, you should familiarize yourself with the vast array of resources for transitioning servicemen and -women. One example is the Transition Assistance Program the Department of Veterans Affairs offers. Your post-military support system is extensive. From the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program to the hundreds of private sector initiatives that recruit and train veterans to the totality of your VA education and training benefits, understanding your unique opportunities is the first step toward success.

Ryder’s Pathway Home program is another great example: The 12-week technician training course gives participating soldiers hands-on diesel technician training during their final days of service. Service members who complete the program are offered employment.

Next, you should take the time to lay out everything you’ve accomplished in your service career — basic training, any courses and certificates, your awards or recognition, plus any deployments or missions you’ve been a part of. It may be helpful to put each experience on its own notecard. On the back, write the names of commanders or teammates you worked alongside, their contact information and a list of the skills or qualities you demonstrated in that experience.

Taking stock of your service career can help you determine your strengths, weaknesses, interests and skills. It may also help you understand where you can provide unique value in the civilian workforce. Most importantly, it may help you tell your story to prospective employers. Watch how quickly your cover letters write themselves!

Know your worth and your values

As you begin your job search, do not underestimate the qualities you convey through your military service. Even values as fundamental as honor and trustworthiness can be worth their weight in gold to prospective employers. In my role in sales and solutions, for instance, my military service translated to confidence in my ability to engage with people honestly, in good faith and with my full commitment to their success.

With sought-after attributes like loyalty, dependability, leadership, teamwork, attention to deadlines and detail, and the ability to make critical decisions under pressure, employers recognize that veterans are an immense asset to their teams. And for veterans, I also think it’s essential to search for and find the right culture that values the same things we value.

My military training served as a springboard in my development as a leader, enabling me to rise through sales and sales leadership positions within Ryder over the past 34 years. Today, I report directly to the president of our division and our chief sales officer with sales goals of just under half a billion dollars and a team of 100 sales professionals and support staff in three countries.

The key is understanding your unique value and the tangible and intangible skills you can leverage in the next phase of your life. That’s why I always urge veterans to think outside the borders of their military occupational specialty (MOS) beyond their direct experience and help their prospective employer understand their immeasurable worth as part of their team.

The only easy day was yesterday

Taking that first job, that first class, that first mentorship opportunity after your service can be daunting. Will the opportunity meet your expectations? Will people relate to you?

The unity and camaraderie of military service do not have to end when you step into civilian life: I encourage you to seek out opportunities where you can have a shared sense of purpose with your team and your employer. Many companies have veterans-only resource groups, trainee classes, as well as group chats and Slack channels where you can ask questions and get advice. Ryder, for instance, has a Veteran Buddy program that pairs veterans already employed at the company with new veteran hires. This adds a layer of support that can help ease the onboarding process and transition to civilian life.

When I was 26 and serving in Desert Storm as a company commander in a war zone, I was ordered to pull together resources from all five units in my battalion and lead a convoy of over 200 transportation assets through Iraq. Although I look more like a PowerPoint Ranger these days, traveling between warehouses, customer locations and Ryder logistics centers, my fundamental mission to serve people hasn’t wavered. You may find that you, too, can carry that purpose into civilian life.

Todd Skiles is the Senior Vice President of Sales for Supply Chain Solutions (SCS) and Dedicated Transportation Solutions (DTS) at Ryder System, Inc., focused on matching Ryder’s solutions with the real and vital needs of customers. Todd is responsible for overseeing the sales and solutions team for SCS and DTS. Under his leadership, sales revenue has grown by more than 130% and sales productivity has doubled.

5 Growing Careers in Mental Health

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An army soldier standing with his wife, speaking to a doctor.

The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that more than 1 in 5 U.S. adults live with a mental illness. Among adolescents and people of color, the prevalence of mental disorders can be even higher. Along with a growing awareness of the importance of mental health and the need for treatment, the demand for workers who can help is increasing.

If you’re interested in a career supporting mental health, you may want to consider these five occupations that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects will grow much faster than average over the 2021–31 decade.

Together, they employed about 761,000 workers in 2021—and they are expected to have more than 91,000 openings on average each year through 2031. The education typically required to enter these occupations ranges from a high school diploma to a master’s degree, and they all pay around or more than the $46,310 median for all occupations in 2022.

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors advise people on a range of issues, such as those relating to alcoholism, addictions or depression. They provide support, including for prevention, to help clients recover from addiction, modify problem behaviors or improve mental health. They may work with patients individually or in group sessions, helping those struggling with mental health, and may find ways to discuss their addiction or other problems with family and friends.

  • Projected growth: 22.1%
  • Average salary: $49,710
  • Education needed: Bachelor’s degree

Community Health Workers

Community health workers advocate for residents’ needs with health care providers and social service organizations. They implement wellness strategies by collecting data and discussing health concerns with members of specific populations. They typically work closely with health education specialists, but their expertise lies with direct interaction with those needing assistance in the forms of informal counseling, providing basic health services, advocating for individuals and conducting outreach programs.

  • Projected growth: 15.9% (Average growth is at about 7-8%)
  • Average salary: $46,190
  • Education needed: High school diploma

Marriage and Family Therapists

Marriage and family therapists help people manage problems with their family and other relationships. They bring a family-centered perspective to treatment and work with individuals, couples or even whole families to work out any issues they may be having. Marriage and family therapists are also responsible for evaluating family roles and development to understand how clients’ families affect their mental health and address issues, such as low self-esteem, stress, addiction and substance abuse.

  • Projected growth: 13.9%
  • Average salary: $56,570
  • Education needed: Master’s degree

Health Care Social Workers

Health care social workers help clients understand their diagnosis and adjust their lifestyle, housing or health care. They can help people transition from the hospital back into their communities, provide information about home health care services and support groups, and work with doctors to understand the effects that disease and illness have with mental and emotional health. Health care social workers may also receive a specialization in geriatric social work, hospice and palliative care, or medical social work.

  • Projected growth: 11.1%
  • Average salary: $60,280
  • Education needed: Master’s degree

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers

Mental health and substance abuse social workers help clients with mental illnesses or addictions. They provide information on services, such as support groups and 12-step programs, to help clients cope with their illness and are licensed clinical social workers who may perform some of the same tasks as health care social workers.

  • Projected growth: 11.1%
  • Average salary: $51,40
  • Education needed: Master’s degree

Sources: The Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Mental Health Support on the Job: Reasonable Accommodations

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When you think of work accommodations for someone with a disability, you may immediately think of people with physical disabilities, such as those with mobility issues, hearing impairments or blindness. But did you know there are many possible accommodations for employees who have a mental illness?

What is a reasonable accommodation?
A reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment or in the way things are customarily done that enables an individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities. Equal opportunity allows a person to attain the same level of performance or to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment.

Examples can include:

A flexible schedule
An accommodation might include a request to work a specific time shift. For example, if you’re more mentally alert and sharp during the day, you can ask to be scheduled for a day shift instead of a night shift. Another area of flexibility can include the timing of your commute to work. If driving or using public transportation during heavy daytime traffic causes anxiety or even panic attacks, you can inquire about going in for a nighttime shift when the roads are less busy. You may also be able to request that breaks during your shift be adjusted. After working for a while, you may find that one long break works better for you than several short ones.

Communication preferences
If you have problems understanding when your supervisor gives you instructions, it’s a good idea to share what communication style works best for you. If you retain written instructions better than verbal ones, ask your boss to give instructions by email or on paper. This could make a big difference in your everyday tasks. Or, if you are in a meeting, but the presenter often speaks very quickly, have a conversation with your supervisor and ask if you can record meetings. This allows you to listen later at your own pace and take notes.

A private workspace
Working in a noisy, open area can make it hard to concentrate. If you’re unable to focus on your work, ask about a quiet workspace. There might be a conference room that’s not in use or a quiet corner to work in. Ask if there is an available office for you to work in that will create a calm environment. If you already have an office, but there’s an “open door” policy and noise in the hallway, ask if you can close your door. You could also ask for permission to wear noise-canceling headphones.

A job coach
A job coach can be with you at work to help you learn the job’s responsibilities, explore other helpful accommodations and reduce anxiety. This person can closely monitor your progress and assist along the way as you learn tasks and start doing projects with co-workers. A job coach can join you at meetings to ensure you understand the main points and complete any work you’re assigned. This one-on-one help at work can positively impact your job performance and confidence. As with any accommodation, your employer will review the approval for a job coach on a case-by-case basis.

Source: Ticket to Work

Employers Need Veterans in the Workforce

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Larry Broughton in black suit seated

Veterans may find it challenging to move from a military career to the civilian workforce, but don’t despair! Our country’s employers and civilian workforce need veterans now, more than ever. The unique skill set, discipline and knowledge of military veterans are highly valued by employers in a wide range of industries.

Ask any entrepreneur, business owner, hiring manager or talent acquisition professional about the top characteristics they seek in candidates when recruiting for key positions in their organization, and you’ll find some variation of the following:
 

1. LEADERSHIP AND TEAMWORK

Among military veterans’ most significant assets are their exceptional leadership and teamwork skills. If you’ve spent more than a year in any military branch, you’ve likely had direct experience (however small) leading, as well as following, and seen firsthand the power of high-performing teams. Candidates who possess the ability to effectively work on a team are highly valued by employers because they promote collaboration, productivity and a positive work environment. Veterans usually honed their leadership skills in high-stress situations where they were responsible for managing teams and rendering key decisions under challenging circumstances.

The leadership structure among both the conventional and the Special Operations communities teaches discipline, accountability and a strong feeling of duty. These characteristics enable members to take the initiative, inspire
and motivate others, and coordinate efforts to achieve key objectives. Additionally, veterans tend to be excellent communicators who can give directions clearly, distribute tasks effectively and interact with coworkers through active listening.

Veterans who can blend into a civilian workforce by shedding the hard-edged, command-and-control style of communication (i.e., “do so because I said so”) may help businesses looking for strong leaders who can inspire and guide their teams to success because these traits are highly valued in any professional setting.

2. RESILIENCY AND ADAPTABILITY

These skills are critical in the military environment and are highly transferable to the workforce in the civilian sector. Most employers are aware that veterans have handled a wide range of situations, frequently in challenging and constantly changing settings. Through this exposure, they develop the abilities needed to handle uncertainty, accept change and remain composed in stressful situations.

Most veterans are accustomed to integrating themselves into new environments, cultures and technology developments. Thanks to their strong work ethic and quick learning curve, they succeed in challenging job conditions. People who make an effort to fit into their company’s culture and take the initiative to learn new tasks and skills are rewarded by competent employers.

Because of their resilience, veterans may also persevere in the face of business adversity, bounce back from setbacks and maintain a positive view even under tough situations. These qualities make them valuable assets in any industry where resiliency and adaptability are prerequisites.

3. PROBLEM-SOLVING AND ANALYTICAL SKILLS

Employers place a high value on employees and team members who can think critically and solve problems. Because of their experience, education and training, veterans usually possess exceptional analytical and problem-solving skills, as well as the ability to quickly analyze hazards, establish effective strategies and make decisions based on limited information. Veterans excel at scenario analysis, risk assessment and solution formulation, making them stand out in the civilian workforce. Their knowledge of recognizing and lowering risks, executing well-thought-out plans and adapting strategies (when necessary) has given them a unique perspective.

Employers go to great lengths to recruit team members who can effectively identify issues, provide solutions, enhance processes and assist in the growth and success of the company. Businesses strongly value the special skill set that veterans who are transitioning from the military to the civilian economy possess. Because of their aptitude for leadership and teamwork, flexibility and resilience, as well as their capacity for problem-solving and analytical thinking, they are highly sought after in most industries.

Savvy employers recognize the benefits of integrating veterans’ experiences into their workforces and are conscious of the unique abilities that veterans possess. To maximize chances of securing a career in the civilian workforce, veterans should focus on exhibiting these qualities when looking for employment. I encourage veterans to find ways to explain situations and circumstances in which they have demonstrated flexibility, emphasized their problem-solving abilities and highlighted their leadership duties. During the initial military-to-civilian workforce transition (and throughout their civilian career), vets should search for networks of support and resources that are appropriate for their needs, including career counseling services, networking events and mentorship programs.

By recognizing and making use of their skills, military veterans can successfully transition into the civilian workforce. If you’re a civilian business owner or employer seeking resilient, highperforming, goal-oriented, problem-solving leaders and team members, I urge you to consider hiring a veteran.

If you’re a veteran, it’s time to lean into your spirit of service and help these employers grow their teams and organizations.

Now, go do something significant today!

Larry Broughton is a former U.S. Army Green Beret, bestselling author, award-winning entrepreneur, keynote speaker and leadership business mentor.

TheLarryBroughton.com

Your Next Mission (Critical)

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By Carrie Goetz

Many veterans may not be exposed to the mission critical industry—aka—the data center industry. Veterans serving on the IT side will undoubtedly understand the concept of a data center. For those that didn’t serve in the technology sectors, don’t think this industry is not for you. As a brief explanation, the mission critical industry is responsible for constructing, operating and maintaining data centers. By way of explanation, every known digitally documented thing “lives” in at least one data center. Every bit, every byte, every conversation and even transitory data will have some stint in a data center.

According to Arizton, the global data center market is set to reach 288.3 billion by 2027, up from 215.8 billion in 2021. Plainly put, the industry is not going away. The depth and breadth of jobs within the industry are vast. While some veterans will have directly transferable skills, other skills map well to skills needed to fill the over 300,000 open jobs requiring people over the next couple of years. The industry is a bit of an enigma for those without an IT background. At a recent Heroes in Transition event in San Diego, the overall theme was to show transitioning Soldiers some of the industry’s opportunities and the purpose surrounding the industry.

As we discuss the industry, let’s tie this back to the “every known digitally documented thing” statement above. That one sentence discusses the need for diversity within the industry. If everyone’s data is in them, shouldn’t everyone be represented in the industry that supports that data? The need for TRUE diversity is vital. We haven’t reached gender parity (not even close). We aren’t in every country on the planet. We don’t represent everyone yet. But we do have jobs for every background, skill level and education level. In fact, the majority of the positions within the industry are learned on the job. Veterans are in great demand.

Site Selection

Building a data center starts with site selection. Telecommunications, power and latency are the prime considerations for the site. Not that these necessarily need to be in place, but the ability to get them to the site is critical. Envision a piece of land somewhere. Everything you can imagine that needs to be at a home site is required here, at a much grander scale. Site selection involves real estate, logistics and liaising with telecommunications carriers, power companies, municipalities and the state or country. These jobs exist with all data centers, and many cities with large data center allies have their own liaisons, too.

Construction and Build

Careers in construction and building design are private commercial versions relatable to anyone in construction from the military. Jobs range from engineering and drafting to hands-on trades. In fact, we owe the trades everything! If it weren’t for the trades, nothing would be built. There are many construction firms out there that specialize in mission critical buildings. Some are design-build, and some are just construction. Some larger colocation (colo) data center builders that lease space have in-house construction arms. While others rely solely on contractors. Regardless, the building, power, cooling, telecommunications, generation, electricians, plumbers, masons, carpenters and heavy machine operators are just a few of the skills in demand for construction.

It’s Built, Now What?

Once constructed, the building becomes an ecosystem supporting information technology and systems within the space. Every single thing that gets installed must be maintained within the ecosystem. The information technology systems also must be installed, maintained and at some point, replaced. Many jobs in operations lend well to skills obtained in the service. Operations personnel must think fast on their feet and react calmly to find a solution. And while you may be thinking, “I don’t understand the ecosystem,” there are books to help and certifications that will fill in your skills gap. In fact, many college-trained individuals get the exact same certifications to learn to support the data center.

Operations jobs can be chaotic, so if you thrive on chaos, operations could be right up your alley. If you don’t thrive on chaos or have had enough, thousands of jobs in and around the industry support operations without the frenzied pace.  Vendor companies need sales, systems engineers, designers and customer service personnel. Human resources, marketing, accounting and logistics are also in demand.

Where’s the Purpose?

The purpose is yours for the taking. Whether you find purpose in helping others or being a guardian within the industry, there are plenty of ways to gain fulfillment. For those in the military that crave working as a team, this entire industry is a team. People here are helpful. This industry is one of the most extensive ongoing apprenticeships ever. People learn from each other. We need diversity to keep groupthink in check and ensure that our platforms are kind, serve all and, most importantly, are safe.

The stark reality is that the internet isn’t completely safe. Our children are not inherently safe on the internet. We simply can’t assume it’s always someone else’s job to foster safety. But then, veterans don’t. Veterans have stepped up and shown character through their service. We need these guardians in our industry, from construction to the cloud and everything in between.  If travel is a passion, many of these jobs lead you around the globe. Want to be a homebody? These jobs are everywhere. You probably look at data centers every day and don’t even realize it. Most every company either has one or uses one someone else runs. The cloud is technically a data center that provides services to users.

If you are transitioning or a prior service member, rest assured you are in demand. Training is available. Organizations such as Salute Mission Critical, Overwatch, iMasons and others will help you find your path. I, too, am happy to help and make introductions. Lastly, thank you for your service. We are all in your debt. It’s time to pay it forward, and our industry is working to do just that!

Carrie Goetz is an Amazon best selling author of Jumpstart Your Career in Data Centers and associated educator’s reference with an extensive career in the data center industry. She is published in 69 countries. She is the inaugural AFCOM/ Data Center World Lifetime Achievement Award honoree, 2023 Top 25 Women in Mission Critical and 2023 ICT Woman of the Year recipient.

Leading by Example Means Failing by Example

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By Brent Yeagy
Wabash CEO on Redefining Failure and Embracing Setbacks

Failure. No one likes it; no one wants to experience it, yet, no one is immune from it.

For leaders, admitting failure can be extremely difficult if they’ve bought into the fallacy that leaders should have all the answers, always be right and be infallible in their decision-making.

That kind of leadership is not going to get you very far. As leaders, our visions and dreams of what is possible should be big. We must lay out the strategies and pathways to make them real and actionable. If we are pushing ourselves and our organizations to change for the better, setbacks, obstacles and failures are to be expected.

To quote Henry Ford, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

We must accept that acting on a vision of purposeful change is a messy place. Instead of having the right answers, leaders should bring optimism to fuel the dream and skepticism to drive the deliberate process of experimentation, or trial and error, that helps us—and others— find the path to success.

I’ve experienced my fair share of failures.

In college, I walked onto the Purdue University football team after turning down an Air Force Academy appointment, only to face a career-ending injury shortly thereafter. I also changed my major four times during my first four semesters and dropped out of school twice. When beginning my job search after college, I submitted dozens of cover letters that went unanswered. During my first interview, the hiring manager told me, “You don’t have the attitude of a leader.”

What I didn’t know at the time was that all these setbacks were setting me on a different path to success. Although each one hurt in the moment, I had the tenacity to keep going and the growth mindset to learn something from each experience.

After dropping out of Purdue for the first time, I joined the U.S. Navy and went on to become a nuclear plant engineering officer. Following my service, I re-enrolled at Purdue, where I received my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. I decided to continue my education at Purdue after getting accepted into a PhD program but later dropped out a second time to pursue an opportunity to serve as a manufacturing leader at Wabash, which led to my current role as president and chief executive officer of the company.

Had I let my failures define me and stop my journey, I would not be in the position I am in today. That’s why we must redefine failure instead of letting it define us. Failing means choosing to take on a challenge outside of your comfort zone and embracing the uncertainty that comes with it.

The best leaders understand that failure is not a reflection of them or their team but simply the result of a process followed, and an idea explored. They seek to understand the types of failure involved and the mechanisms that led to the undesirable outcome for learning purposes.

When we view failure through a lens of discovery and objectivity, we’re able to separate emotion and personal biases from the outcome. And that’s what keeps us grounded in the purpose, vision and optimism that allows for constructive learning.

Whether you’re navigating a personal life change, taking a business risk or leading a team through uncharted territory, it’s important to recognize that failure is a required output of growth. The sooner you’re able to embrace setbacks as an opportunity to improve, the more prepared you will be to lead yourself and others through the uncertainty of failure to achieve success.

Connecting Military Service and Agriculture

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By The U.S. Department of Agriculture

It is not every day that you meet a real hero—someone who shows great courage coupled with patriotism. If you were lucky enough to work for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) in New Jersey, then you would look no further than Robert “Bob” Andrzejczak. A Purple Heart and Bronze Star with Valor recipient, he exemplifies all the attributes of a military hero, although you would never hear him say so.

Andrzejczak is a loving husband to his wife Trisha and a devoted father of two, who served two tours in the Army in Iraq and seven years in the New Jersey legislature. Today, as the State Executive Director for FSA, a presidential appointment, he leads a group of 37 USDA employees. He and his team support production agriculture in New Jersey by administering an extensive portfolio of federal farm programs. These programs help agricultural producers access capital, recover from natural disasters and manage commodity market volatilities.

How does a military hero become a USDA leader? For Andrzejczak, the journey has been a winding path fraught with adversity. His hard work, dedication and sense of duty led him to where he is today. Andrzejczak’s values are common attributes of military service personnel and also synonymous with farming, ranching and rural America, making a career with USDA or in the agriculture sector a natural fit.

A Seed Planted

Andrzejczak’s Garden State roots run deep. He was raised in rural Cape May, New Jersey, a town that places value on family, good friends and the importance of agriculture to the community. Andrzejczak recalls, “Growing up, my grandparents lived next to a lima bean field, and I remember being fascinated watching the beans grow, and then harvested, each summer.”

As a teenager, Andrzejczak worked as a laborer on a small specialty crop operation in his hometown. “I have a vivid memory of busheling sweet corn as the sun was rising over the fields.” During those long days, working for hours in the sweltering sun, he developed a deep appreciation for farmers and agriculture. Little did he know then that, years later, this appreciation of agriculture would lead him to a successful career with USDA.

Into the Fray

After graduating from high school and starting college, Andrzejczak felt a call to serve. In 2005, he joined the Army as an infantryman and attended basic training. After basic training, he was stationed in Hawaii for six months before his first tour in Iraq. “During that first tour, it was just non-stop action,” Andrzejczak explained. “We were working out of Hawija. It was a constant barrage of attacks, and we lost a lot of really good guys during that time.”

His second tour seemed relatively calm. All that changed during a patrol on January 7, 2009, when a grenade exploded and ripped through Andrzejczak’s truck. Although he’d experienced combat before and was injured in previous missions, Andrzejczak realized immediately this was different. “The pain I felt was like nothing I experienced before. At one point, I looked down and knew my leg was gone.” Had it not been for his fellow Soldiers applying a tourniquet and helping him reach medics, Andrzejczak’s outcome would be different.

Recovery on the Homefront

Andrzejczak spent two months undergoing surgeries that would save his life. Once stable, he was flown to Walter Reed Army Medical Center for continued treatment and physical therapy. He spent two years at Walter Reed under the care of the nation’s best physicians, nurses and physical and occupational therapists.

Volunteerism and Political Service

“As soon as I was able, I started volunteering with different veteran organizations. I joined the VFW and DAV, helping whenever and wherever I could,” Andrzejczak explained. Giving back and getting involved set him apart, and eventually, his work was noticed by local political leaders.

Ultimately, Andrzejczak served six years in the New Jersey General Assembly as Chairman of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and as the New Jersey representative on the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee of the Council of State Governments. “We constantly visited farms to figure out what the needs of the agricultural community were. During my time in office, we made some huge improvements in agriculture for New Jersey.”

In Feb. 2022, the Biden-Harris administration appointed Andrzejczak to the position of FSA State Executive Director, and he immediately jumped back in with the members of the agricultural community. Andrzejczak explains, “For farmers to put their trust in me and want me in this role is very humbling, it drives me to do the best job I can do.”

Preparing for a Career with USDA

When asked how his military career prepared him for his USDA career, Andrzejczak explained, “Going through what I have, nearly dying, gives a unique perspective and a different view on life. Many times, the things we see as big problems or issues, unless they are life-threatening, are not. I bring that mentality into my everyday decision-making and look at everything from a logical versus an emotional standpoint. This is one of the greatest attributes my military experience and training gave me—preparing me to lead by example and choose a positive perspective.”

He continued, “I bring to my position as FSA State Executive Director a compassion for farmers and for the USDA employees who work alongside me. In the military, you have leaders who lead by example and those who lead through fear. I learned early on that leading with compassion is my leadership style.”

For those transitioning to a new career after military service, Andrzejczak offers some advice, “One of the things you learn in the military is you can do anything. I feel sometimes, when you get out of the military and you’re no longer in that environment, you forget. I believe the only real limitations we have are the ones we put on ourselves. I think veterans really need to remember that you can do anything if you put your heart and mind to it and have the determination to see it to the end.

“If your dream is starting your own farm or gaining the confidence to take over the family farm, those are big steps in life. USDA has programs that can help you take the leap into production agriculture. The resources USDA offers mean you are not alone—we guide you along the way.

“Starting or working on a farm or ranch is not a path for everyone, but USDA offers many job opportunities, from engineers to procurement officers. There is a place for everyone. Many programs are designed to assist veterans transitioning to their next career. Remember, you cannot accomplish anything if you don’t take those first steps. USDA stands ready to help you transition to a civilian career.

“Statistics show military recruits disproportionately come from rural and suburban areas, but the opportunities in agriculture—rural and urban—are endless. No matter where you land in your civilian life, a promising future in agriculture awaits. I encourage veterans to consider a career in agriculture and think of it as continued service to our country because food security in the U.S. ensures national security. And, like the military, agriculture is not only a livelihood but also a rewarding way of life.”

USDA Resources for Veterans

USDA is committed to working with our nation’s military veterans as they become involved in agriculture. To begin your journey in agriculture, visit usda.gov/our-agency/initiatives/veterans. You will find a comprehensive look at USDA programs available specifically for veterans.

Each state has a USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher (BFR) Coordinator who can answer questions and provide information specific to your state. Your state’s BFR coordinator can be found at farmers.gov.

Army Civilian Careers: Find purpose to match your passion

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

Did you know the Department of the Army employs more than 260,000 civilians in more than 500 career fields? Whatever you’re passionate about, Army Civilian Careers can help you turn that potential into a meaningful career with lifelong benefits.

Bring your skills where they can make a real difference each day through meaningful and challenging work. With a civilian job in the military, you get to work alongside the nation’s Soldiers, bringing a level of expertise and skill that keeps the Army ready for anything. While you may not work in uniform, your contributions as part of the U.S. Army Civilian Corps are just as vital as those who do. As an Army civilian, the talent and experience you add to the team improves the readiness of our force.

Visit us at booth #601 at the 2023 LULAC National Convention and Exposition on August 5, 2023 to learn more about Army Civilian Careers, interview for open positions, and potentially receive a tentative job offer on the spot.

Or contact us today at armyciviliancareers@army.mil or visit, https://www.goarmy.com/careers-and-jobs/find-your-path/army-civilians.html

About LULAC:
The LULAC Convention is an exciting, history-making convention, because it convenes the national delegates of LULAC to discuss issues, set policies, and elect the organization’s national leaders. For this reason, the LULAC Convention is covered by national and local media. It is the only convention in which participants representing Hispanic communities from across the country determine the positions and strategies of a national Latino organization.

Reach out to Hispanic America: The LULAC Convention is attended by major corporations who recognize the importance of reaching out to national Latino leaders and influential community members directly. There are opportunities to sponsor workshops and events, display products and recruit Hispanic professionals in the convention exhibit hall. In addition, all proceeds support LULAC’s mission, which is to advance the economic condition, educational attainment, political influence, housing, health and civil rights of the Hispanic population of the United States.

Navigating the VA Job application process

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Before you take the plunge and apply for your dream VA job, take a minute to better understand how the application process works. This step-by-step guide reviews the process, from the exploration phase all the way through to hiring.

1. Find your fit at VA

You need a workplace where you feel like you belong. Before you apply, you should first learn about VA and our mission of service to our nation’s heroes. Then, ask yourself if this sounds like the place for you.

What job interests you?

Once you’ve determined if VA is a good culture fit, consider what careers are right for you. If you’re a health care provider, this is probably already clear — but we also employ thousands of administrators, technical staff, and support staff.

Check out our helpful career guidance for more on the different paths to a career at VA.

What can you expect?

Applying to a federal job is not like applying to one in the private sector. We have rules that we must follow, so the process is often longer and can be affected by factors like number of applicants and urgency of hiring. Read more about the application timeline.

2. Search for a job

We post our open jobs, also called job opportunity announcements (JOAs), on USAJobs. This is the career site for the federal government.

Using USAJOBS

USAJOBS allows you to easily search for positions by keyword and location. Learn how to navigate the site with help from their extensive library of FAQs.

Job requirements

When you find a job you’re interested in, be sure to read the entire announcement to make sure you’re eligible and meet the qualifications. Carefully review the “This job is open to” section, as well as “Clarification from the agency” and “Who may apply.” If everything looks good, move on to the “Qualifications” section to see if you meet that criteria.

3. Submit your application

Once you hit apply, USAJOBS will walk you through a 5-step process where you’ll attach a resume and any required documents. Without all required documents, your application could be deemed ineligible and rejected.

Your application

Once you’ve put together your application on USAJOBS, you’ll be directed to the VA application system. Here, you’ll submit the application, as well as any other information we need. At any time, you can log in to Application Manager to check on the status of your application.

About the selection process

Once the job announcement closes, your application enters the review stage. The hiring team examines applications for eligibility and classifies qualified candidates as either “minimally qualified” or “highest qualified.”

The highest qualified applicants will be referred to the hiring manager, who will do their own review and begin the next step — interviews. If you’re not selected for an interview, you’ll be notified by email within a few weeks of the JOA closing date.

Veterans’ preference

Applications from Veterans and transitioning military personnel may get a boost through Veterans’ preference, a method that gives consideration to qualified Veterans. Keep in mind that it does not guarantee a job, and the goal is not to place a Veteran in every vacant federal job.

4. Ace your interview

Watch for a phone call inviting you for an interview! They are conducted by phone, video, or in-person, either one-on-one or with a panel, and there may be more than one round of interviews.

Interview format

VA uses a performance-based interview (PBI) process, which asks applicants to describe what they would have done in a specific situation. We ask you to pull from particular moments in your career when answering. Learn more about how to make the most of your interview.

Do your due diligence

If you take the time to research the position and VA, your effort will show, and you’ll have a chance to shine. Our own Hillary Garcia, a national health care recruitment consultant at VA, offers 10 tips on how to prepare.

5. Get your offer

Congratulations! You applied, aced the interview, and got an offer!

Once you receive a tentative offer, you’ll need to complete a background investigation, other security checks, and new hire forms and documents. Then we’ll extend a final offer and set up a start date.

You’re on your way to a rewarding VA career!

From the Battlefield to the Boardroom: Veterans Find Success in Tech Jobs

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Transitioning from military service to civilian life can be a daunting experience, but jobs in tech offer a multitude of career opportunities for veterans looking to start a new chapter in their professional lives.

Military service members possess a unique set of skills that are highly valued across all industries, including leadership, problem-solving, and adaptability. In particular, tech jobs recognize and values the discipline, teamwork, and technical skills that veterans bring to the table.

Tech jobs can be found in almost every industry, from healthcare and finance to manufacturing and retail. In fact, many non-tech companies are actively seeking tech employees as part of their workforce, making this such an attractive career option for veterans seeking to leverage their skills and experience in new ways. With the increasing number of veterans transitioning to civilian life and the growing demand for skilled workers in the technology industry, we believe this is a beneficial route for veterans.

One veteran who made the transition successfully to CompTIA, a leading IT and workforce trade association,  discusses the many tech opportunities open to veterans.

WATCH ON YOUTUBE:

Find out more at CompTIA.

Check out our job board for the latest listings!

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As a transitioning service member, or a seasoned veteran, you’ve already got a strong set of skills that make you a great asset in the workforce. Many of those same skills carry over in finding the right job for you in the workplace.

Search our job listings for companies that are military-friendly. With your skills, including integrity, physical and mental strength, problem solving, etc., you will make a great fit for many of these companies.

Begin your search today here!

Providing Business, DVBE. Employment & Educational Opportunities For Veterans

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Upcoming Events

  1. 5th Annual Business Beyond the Battlefield Conference
    October 4, 2023 - October 6, 2023
  2. G.I. Jobs Fort Liberty Hiring Event
    October 5, 2023
  3. City Career Fairs Schedule for 2023
    October 6, 2023 - March 29, 2024
  4. HIRE G.I. Hiring Events 2023
    October 10, 2023 - May 15, 2024
  5. 2023 Global ERG Network Conference
    October 11, 2023 - October 13, 2023