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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.
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Stress is an interesting animal. A little stress isn’t always bad: it can be an effective motivator, and the adrenaline that stress creates can help improve both mental and physical performance. But too much stress can negatively affect your performance on duty, your relationships, and your physical and mental health. Fortunately, there are many ways to control and reduce stress and increase health and wellness. You can learn and apply stress management techniques to help limit your stress and stay more relaxed in your military and home life. Continue reading 8 Tips for Managing Stress for Service Members
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American-made label Oscar Mike grew into a successful T-shirt company by appealing to military vets—and their supporters. Continue reading How A Startup Founded And Operated By Paralyzed Vets Made A Clothing Line That Matters
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Civilians may not be aware of the unique challenges that separating from military service and returning to civilian life can present. Here, we highlight some of these challenges. Veterans may find difficulty with the following:
Relating to people who do not know or understand what military personnel have experienced (and many civilians don’t know that they don’t know!).
Reconnecting with family and re-establishing a role in the family.
–Families may have created new routines during absences and both the family and the Veteran will have to adjust to changes.
Joining or creating a community.
–When moving to a new base or post, the military helps military personnel and families adjust. This structure is often not automatically in place when someone separates from the military. The Veteran and his or her family may have to find new ways to join or create a social community.
Preparing to enter the workforce.
–A Veteran may have never looked for, applied for, or interviewed for a civilian job, especially if he or she had a career in the military. These are new skills he or she will have to learn and master.
–In applying for a job, a Veteran will have to determine how to translate his or her military skills and duties into civilian terms and create a resume.
–A Veteran may have never created a resume. Instead of a resume, the military uses a Field Service Record to detail qualifications, training, and experience.
Returning to a job.
–If deployed with the National Guard or Reserve, a Service Member will have to adjust to resuming their previous job or another similar job at the same company. For some recently returning Service Members, they may find themselves behind a desk in as little as three days after leaving a combat zone.
–Returning to the job may include a period of catching up, learning new skills, or adjusting to a new position. It will also include adjusting to social changes that may have occurred in the workplace.
–During the transition back to work, some Veterans also experience worry and fear about possible job loss.
–The military provides structure and has a clear chain of command. This does not naturally exist outside the military. A Veteran will have to create his or her own structure or adjust to living in an environment with more ambiguity.
Adjusting to providing basic necessities (e.g., food, clothing, housing).
–In the military, these things are not only provided, but there is often little choice (e.g., you eat at determined times in a certain place, duty station determines your dress).
–Given the lack of choices while in the military, the vast array of choices in the civilian world can sometimes be overwhelming.
Adjusting to a different pace of life and work.
–In the military, personnel do not leave until the mission is complete. In a private sector business, an employee might be expected to stop and go home at 5 p.m., whether the “mission” is complete or not. They may not be apparent to all Veterans.
–Civilian workplaces may be competitive environments, as opposed to the collaborative camaraderie of the military.
–Given the direct nature of communication in military settings, there may be subtle nuances in conversations and workplace lingo that are unfamiliar to Veterans.
–A Veteran may have to learn how to get a doctor, dentist, life insurance, etc. These services were previously provided by the military.
–A Veteran may also need to navigate the paperwork and process of obtaining benefits and services from the Department of Veteran Affairs.
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