The Military Friendly Advantage
Make Your Career Starting Point an Advantage
The active duty military life is unique in that it is one of the few choices in life a person can make where they are literally immersed physically, mentally and financially in one institution, the U.S. military. The active duty military is all-encompassing and leaving such an institution can be a difficult transition, even for those who continue their service in the reserves. The draw-down of American military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan leaves thousands of men and women who have only known warfare for the last thirteen years working to make the change to a civilian life or a military life stateside. Aside from the usual challenges of getting used to a "normal" life, the soldier-citizens usually find themselves at a fork in the road, wondering what the best path is for them: should they take advantage of opportunities the military provides for education? Or should the former service member immediately hit the ground running to find a job without rebuilding a resume that has the focus based on the target job? The answer is evident: the job seeker should build the strongest resume possible. This is where military friendly colleges and military friendly employers can play a critical role for veterans and serving military. These “military friendly”’ institutions can help with the transitional process in a unique manner based on an interest and understanding of the soldier experience, skills, and needs. The military friendly colleges and military friendly employers are able to blend their educational and business requirements with the needs of the military member.
Determining what makes a company a "military friendly employer" has evolved to a science. As an example, the respected professional services multinational company, Ernst & Young, LLP applies the results of a +100-question survey to cull hiring data from 5,000 American companies to determine which ones are the most "military friendly."1 The industries which appear to be best-suited to their skill-sets include finance, defense, retail and security.1 Options to work for the U.S. government in a civilian capacity are also available and an obvious choice: the military training and education establish a foundational expectation of the knowledge the former military member has and how it can be applied to great benefit in areas such as the intelligence community, the Secret Service, law enforcement (such as the FBI, ATF, ICE), or any broad range of opportunities to work in the public sector.
All Careers Begin With Education
The military member can also take the education option, either prior to or during civilian employment. Seeking additional education and training shows a discipline and desire for continuous improvement that will make their resume stand out amongst competing applicants. Lists of military friendly colleges can be obtained online. The institutional characteristics of military friendly colleges should be flexible, offer quality online classes in convenient semesters or quarters, and have financial aid staff trained to help navigate through the myriad process of claiming the appropriate GI bill that provides financial assistance for education. Most of all, schools that employ former military members would have a classification of "military friendly college," as the staff are familiar with the path that the student soldier is embarking on and can provide insights and perspective that is more relatable than what may be provided by an instructor with a strictly civilian background.2
Choosing a School is Part of Preparing for Your Career
Choosing a school requires a rigor beyond just picking an institution from the military friendly colleges list. While this list is a valuable tool, the successful career-minded individual will do additional vetting of online schools as part of the career plan. A school should “specialize” in the area of interest for the student. For example, students looking for careers in intelligence, counterterrorism, and strategic security seek out schools that specialize in these education disciplines. Furthermore, the schools should staff with faculties that have both a resume of academic qualification and the proven record of success working in the real world national security areas.
1. The Top 100 Military Friendly Employers, http://www.forbes.com/sites/kathryndill/2014/11/11/the-top-100-military-friendly-employers/
2. http://www.army.mil/article/141688/Soldier_for_Life__Instructor_draws_inspiration_ from_transitioning_Soldiers/