A year ago, my wife and I decided that we were at a decision point in my military career.
Would we stay in after 10+ years of active service or transition to the civilian world?
I have since spent countless hours trying to figure out what I really wanted to be when I “grew up.” Recently, after helping several people at the start of their military transition, I decided to compile the top 10 lessons learned over the last year that could have saved me time and effort from the beginning.
Take what you can use, leave what does not make sense or apply to your situation. At least I can stop writing the same email to my colleagues over and over again!
These are not necessarily in any chronological order, are not intended to replace your own military Transition Assistance Program classes, and are not meant to be relied on for a transition plan. However, they have been incredibly important lessons learned from my “foxhole.” As a transitioning Junior Military Officer, many of these lessons changed my outlook on my future, however most of these lessons will apply to anyone transitioning from the military.
After reading these lessons, be sure to register for the upcoming G.I. Jobs Virtual Career Expo, where you can chat one-on-one with recruiters looking to hire veterans. Registration is free, but seats are limited, so be sure to reserve your spot at the link below today!
Transitioning is a process; each step builds on creating a successful plan in finding your post-military career. Know that it does not happen overnight. Start as early as you can. This will allow you to make mistakes and follow several career pathways that lead to dead ends.
Learn everything you can about interviewing, résumés, job applications, schools and certifications along the way. You can do 75% of this process without anyone knowing you are even thinking about it. Set a reasonable date in the future for when you would like to be out, before you are put on PCS orders, get offered that next big job, or take any other carrot the military throws your way. Then, set a reasonable decision point date for you to make the decision of getting out or not. You can then backwards plan your transition until you reach your decision point. This will allow you flexibility and allow you to not totally surprise your chain of command.
I started this process in January. Personally, I chose the date when I would be expecting my next duty assignment (mid-October), backed up a month off that, and picked a decision point of September 15th. From there I made a plan of creating my résumé, networking, completing certifications, searching for careers and making a decision on higher education.
This gave me almost 8 months to come up with several courses of action, pick the best one and still be able to inform HRC and my command before I came down on orders.