When I separated from the Air Force in 2012, I knew that I would land that dream job based on my education and what I have done in the military. I had a plan, applied for jobs six months out, took advantage of the resources the military provided, continued my education, and so on and so forth. Well, as we all know, things never go as planned and I turned a blind eye to that. I overshot for some of the positions I applied for, turned down jobs that I felt I was too good for, and really wasn’t able to decide what exactlyI wanted to do. I thought I knew it all, which was one of my downfalls. My pride got in the way of taking certain jobs and growing within the company.
Like me and many other Veterans transitioning into the civilian world, we feel like we are owed something. In reality we aren’t. Now, don’t get me wrong, I know we can make an immediate impact if and when we are hired on, but I don’t think we should necessarily be given an opportunity because we are Vets. Once reality set in that my plan wasn’t working out as I thought it would. I took an insurance job with a questionable company, did business-to-business sales, and worked as a bank teller part-time while finishing up my MBA. I can tell you what, one of the most humbling things I have ever done is job hunt. I did go through a depression phase, question myself, and quit my MBA program 75% into it, only to start another Master’s program at another school. I did go back to my original school and finish my MBA a year later. It took me almost three years to a find a company that I can see myself with for years.
In all honesty, I did a lot right, but I did even more wrong. I failed to network, find a mentor, identify what I would like to do, and take the necessary steps to ensure I put myself in the best position to succeed.
My advice to those transitioning is to have rainy-day fun, because emergencies do come up. Identify what industry, function, and organization you would like to be a part of. Network with veterans and non-veterans and join professional societies or organizations. Find a mentor or advisor for contacts, knowledge, and skills. Don’t sell yourself short for anything or anyone. Be honest with yourself when applying for jobs. Remember it’s never too late to mend past broken relationships with coworkers and supervisors. And again, network, network, network and network. A wise man once said, “Your Network will determine your Net Worth”.
I hope my ups and downs will help others who are transitioning into, or are currently in, the civilian world overcome the obstacles in their path to achieve the level of success he or she desires.