By Sandra Long
Over one million young American men and women are in the process of leaving the military between 2011 and 2016. They all enlisted for different reasons, but many did so in hopes of getting a college degree after their military service commitment was completed. American college campuses are now adjusting to this influx of unique talent. Veterans have a higher rate of unemployment so special attention is warranted from schools and employers.
Internships during college are a great way for these young veterans to obtain additional relevant workplace experience to add to their impressive military achievements. All veterans work hard to translate their military skills into meaningful experiences valued by civilian hiring managers. University counselors are gearing up nationally to help these extraordinary veteran students to make successful transitions from the military on to college and career. There are also websites and software available to help veterans in this process of breaking down and rebranding some of their specific skills and competencies.
Some of America’s veterans are going straight from combat to the workforce because they already have their college degree. Those soldiers and sailors will probably not have the opportunity for an internship. For example, my son went from an Army Officer directly to a supervisory position in the oil industry.
The thousands of veterans now on our college campuses are a different story. Internships provide a fantastic opportunity for them to add to their resume and skill sets. These young people are used to the command and control structure of the military. An internship will open new doors and provide valuable experience for them. A veteran can also do an internship during the initial job search process directly after college graduation.
More companies and organizations are starting to offer paid internships for our young veterans, many of which are currently attending our nation’s colleges. The New York Stock Exchange has actively been hiring veteran interns in New York City. EMC is among several companies considered “military friendly” and a good potential internship employer. Veterans can register with the 100,000 jobs mission (veteransjobmission.com). They can also apply for jobs and find employers interested in veterans. Finding the right companies or organizations is an important first step for veterans and the college and career counselors assisting them, whether they are seeking an internship or regular full-time employment.
Veterans also need to learn to network in order to create their own opportunities. This can be somewhat foreign to the military mindset but an essential skill for a job seeker and any business professional today. Veterans looking for a professional or internship position should consider using LinkedIn because recruiters are actively searching for veterans on the site. Veterans need to fully complete the LinkedIn profile and optimize it with keywords and headlines such as “Veteran seeking Operations Internship.” A newer site, Rally Point, is also available to veterans for online networking and is more exclusive to the military community.
Internships for veterans is a great idea. It helps veterans to learn about corporate, government and nonprofit organizations. Rather than just going to an online calculator to figure out how their military experience will translate, an internship provides both the veteran and employer a “test drive”. Quality paid internships are a great opportunity for veterans and employers. Colleges and employers can and should partner together to create veteran internship programs.