Transitioning from the Military
By Nick Engelbrecht
You’ve made the decision to transition from the military, Congratulations!
Now what is it you want to do?
This is a question that you will inevitably be asked. So it’s best to prepare ahead of time for that question. My advice is to begin preparing as soon as you have an inkling that you are going to get out of the military. You can never prepare too early for this transition! Don’t take it lightly and assume jobs will fall into your lap just because you are a veteran and have served your country admirably.
You are NOT Stuck
It seems that most veterans I mentor believe that they are stuck doing whatever it was they did while they served – I was one of them! If you enjoyed your rate/MOS and there’s an equivalent in the civilian job market, then by all means continue doing what you love. If not, discover your passion and find something that you can enjoy! It will make you happier to go to work and will make you more successful.
My point is the recruiter you talked with at the recruiting station four, eight, or twenty plus years ago. They do not get to decide the rest of your life! That recruiter had a job to do. Billets to fill. They talked you into a particular job. It doesn’t mean that if you were placed as an electrician. You need to spend your entire life as an electrician. You write your own story when transitioning from the military!
How do you decide what makes you happy and what you are good at? I recommend three things when I mentor veterans: First, take a personality test. There are many free ones available online – I used Sixteen Personalities. Second, talk to the people that know you best. FYI moms love to give career advice! Lastly, connect with people through LinkedIn. This will help build your network. You can get a Free Premium subscription by visiting clicking here.
When I was coming up on transition, I had it in my head that I was going to be a Project Manager (PM) since I had an education in engineering. In the military, I was a submarine officer. All of my experience and training in the Navy supported this plan. When I took my personality test, it was no surprise to anyone that I should pursue a career in customer service or sales. Something more people-centric, where I can use my personality and build connections with people. I talked to my wife and mom about the results and was told, “DUH!” Added to that, as I was doing informational interviews, I kept getting questions over and over about why I wanted to be a PM. Eventually, I listened to all of this advice and am now excelling at a career in sales that I am passionate about. I enjoy going to work and solving problems for my customers. I’ve been able to build strong relationships in a short time. And the selling is easy because they see me as a trusted and valuable asset to their business.
Look, not everyone is suited for a career in sales. Although, I think veterans are great at it! You need to take the time to figure out what it is you are meant to do with your life. Preferably, you’ll figure this out early. Before you start marketing yourself. Then you will have a much easier time transitioning from the military and landing a meaningful career. If you know what it is you want to do, build your brand to reflect that.
Have you given any thought about what it is you would enjoy doing after the military? What do you want to do after transitioning from the military?
This post was written by Nick Engelbrecht, you can learn more about him on LinkedIn.