From Battlefield to Business Suit

Ever since I was out of high school, I’ve a military man. I went from algebra and PE to combat training and PT and honestly that’s all I’ve professionally known in my adult life. I know how to survive in the desert under enemy fire, behind enemy lines. I know how to ration my food and water to last me on extended patrols. Anybody who’s ever served will understand this: I know how to clean something that is already clean. When I got home from my third deployment, my second term of service was coming to an end and I felt it was time to go another direction with my life. I had a family to support and I wanted to enter the civilian world but what am I going to do with these skills? I was a rifleman. How does that translate into corporate America? I was 26 years old and I had risen to the rank of Staff Sergeant in the Marine Corps., did I really have to start at the bottom again?

The answer is no. 

While my survival and combat skills didn’t directly translate to the corporate world, values like communication, leadership, and overall awareness that were instilled in me by the military did. It’s easy to get discouraged, especially in today’s job market, but I remembered my training and these values helped me through civilian life the same as they helped me through the military. Three qualities in particular were especially helpful in the search for a civilian career:

  1. Determination to help me push through when it seemed helpless. I never gave up
    the job search or faltered in my steps toward becoming a successful civilian, no matter how
    discouraging the process. Beyond the search, I never gave up a promising lead as a marketing
    manager. I am an immovable, undiscouragable marketing machine now thanks to some
    marketing seminars and good old boot camp.
  2. Discipline to stay on task and get it done in an efficient and timely matter. There
    were plenty of distractions, but I just kept on keeping on. Just like combat or even PT, you
    keep going until it’s done. Additionally, I have the the discipline of years of
    military drilling to follow my chain of command and lead an efficient work place.
  3. Self awareness to know myself and my team, know their skills and know
    our limitations. I was able to properly apply myself and my resources in an effective manner to
    avoid wasting my time and energy on dead ends or lost causes.

I also found out fairly quickly in my search that I was wrong about there not being any call for my survival and combat skills in the American work force. A career in the police force or as a security personnel would incorporate many of the skills that one develops through time in the military including strict discipline, weapons handling and how to diffuse potentially violent situations. These are noble, interesting professions that are a logical next step to take after you exit the military as your time in the military often counts as a form of job experience!

If you’re still struggling to find a job and law enforcement and security don’t appeal to you, your best resource is going to be the Tip of the Arrow Foundation. They were the first organization dedicated entirely to military veterans like me who are looking to enter the job market, but only known the military and have little or no civilian work experience. They’re a non-profit organization so you don’t have to pay to join like many other employment pages. Volunteers are standing by to help any veteran who comes to them and these folks are good at what they do. These professional job-getters not only help you build a resume and find a job for yourself, they follow up and help you keep your job and advance quickly through the ranks. The idea behind the business is that they are paying vets back, helping veterans states-side who have kept them safe while on deployment. This is my number one suggestion for any person in a similar situation to my own.