Learning career skills in the military is an excellent way to prepare yourself for a great job after your discharge. However, the transition is not always instantaneous. There may be some steps you have to take to get the full advantage of what you learned while serving your country. You might have trouble adjusting to a new lifestyle and work culture. There are many resources to help you with your adjustment. Here are three things to do to help with the transition from military service to your new career path.
Educate Yourself While You’re Enlisted
Before you even sign your final papers to receive your discharge, you can have a head start on your civilian career. The growing number of online colleges for military personnel makes it easier than ever for service members to further their formal education, even when they’re deployed. The flexible scheduling permits you to complete coursework between assignments, regardless of the time of day.
For veterans looking to add some credit hours to their transcripts, there are many programs available with special consideration for them as well. Many colleges offer scholarships and special benefits for military students. You can greatly reduce your tuition fees this way. Some schools might also offer a way to get credit for training you receive during your service. Thus, you will transfer your skills directly into your degree. Don’t let these choices pass you by. A civilian degree could put the winning touch on your job application.
Establish Civilian Credentials
You learned valuable skills during your time in the military and you have lots of documentation to prove it. However, civilian employers may not be familiar with the particular qualifications that you will present to them when you apply. The particular language of the military might be foreign to them.
For that reason, it’s helpful to make immediate contact with the various certification agencies in your state to see what needs to be done to translate your military qualifications into documents and terms that will be understood in the private sector. There are three basic steps to this process: First, find out what credentials you will need, if any. Second, find out how and where to get them. Third, make a plan.
Because the process can vary widely from state to state as well as from profession to profession, it can be overwhelming. Your branch of the military might have an online tool to help you find out what to do. The department of Veteran Affairs can also give advisement on how to proceed. You can also reach out on online veteran communities who have already made this adjustment and get their advice. There are many people who have been through this experience before and can show you the way. You are not alone.
Acquaint Yourself with Civilian Workplace Systems
For a military unit to run effectively, the command structure must be top-down and beyond question. Rank-and-file personnel have one source for orders, and they follow those orders to the letter. That’s the only way the mission can be safely accomplished. Obviously, the civilian world is different. Communication is often circular, with considerable autonomy given to line personnel. As you already may have experienced, this can be a tough adjustment for military veterans. Many jobs, even those that directly rely on your military experience, might require you to be more independent. As you start into the workforce after your service, you may benefit from reading a few basic books on corporate structure and private sector management or even just reading a guide or two on being a good employee.
However, it can be difficult to transfer your practical knowledge to your emotions and daily life. Talk with other veterans who have had similar experiences and ask them what they did to cope. Discuss problems with your HR department or union representative to see what assistance you can get. Visit a therapist and gain tools for focusing and living your everyday life. You can find many paths forward, so don’t get discouraged if you face difficulty and pain initially. Reach out and get the help you need.
Your time in the military sets you apart in many ways. It establishes you as one of the select few who step forward to serve their country. It also makes you uniquely qualified for many different careers in civilian life. Whatever your specialty in the military was, there is likely a civilian job for you. However, those qualifications need a little adjustment as you return to non-military life. These adjustments might come from a professional level, like needing credentials, or a personal life, like adjusting to a different work culture. Whatever your difficulties, you deserve resource to work through these problems. The simple tips above will help you make a smooth transition into a career outside military service.