Memorial Day is a day in the United States to remember those who have given their lives for our country. Many people gather with their loved ones to grill or visit historic sites such as Arlington Cemetery.
As a DC resident, I am able to take advantage of Memorial Day. I am able to attend the National Memorial Day Concert and many other events held throughout the city. As I reflect on the lives of those who gave their lives for my country, I am also thankful to those who serve today, many of whom I consider my friends.
Current service personnel face a common concern: how to make the transition to civilian life. One woman serving in the Air Force, whom we have known for many years, asked me recently about how she could use her skills as Major to become a project manager.
“So,” she hesitated, and then she handed me her resume. Keywords immediately jumped out at me: leadership, goal setting and task management, iterative decisions making, incredible self-direction.
“Absolutely,” I responded.
For veterans, project management may be the easiest job to transition to after service. Continue reading to learn why.
Veterans are accustomed to working in teams.
No military branch is complete without teamwork. Military personnel are trained to push their mission, not only for higher morals (like serving their country), but for their fellow soldiers.
However, military teamwork is different from civilian work. Lance Walker, a career coach to veterans, says, “One thing is different about the military environment… Once you have completed basic training, everyone is pretty much on one mission.” He also notes that civilian organizations are quite different. He said, “Getting people together, a lot if times in my experience… is kind of like herding cats… they just don’t accept orders well.” It takes a lot more to get people to do what you want. This makes teamwork look very different.
This is where the military experience comes in handy. Veterans are able to communicate clearly, concisely, and concretely with their subordinates. They also know what can happen if they don’t. The military excels at organizing human capital. This is an area where veterans can transfer their skills to civilian life. Project management is a great way to do this.
Veterans have high levels of independence.
Vets can also be independent and self-reliant. They care deeply about their teams, but they are not afraid to make difficult decisions for the mission. Soldiers are a great choice for this job, as employers are looking for project managers who are both highly independent and team-oriented.
A staggering 65% of veterans leave their first civilian job within two year’s time. This is largely due to dissatisfaction with their work environment. Project management is uniquely suited to the military culture and lifestyle of the private sector. This may make it easier to transition to this line, especially for government contractors.
Soldiers are open to learning new technology and new skills.
The military does a great job of educating its personnel about real-world skills. Many vets are well-equipped for learning the world of project management software and IT, from the Air Force’s technical training program through to the Naval Education and Training Command.
Derek Bennett, chief of staff of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, stated to The Hill that “We now have in most of Our Humvees, Military Vehicles almost like a Facebook — A networked community that relies upon your GPS position and data, to connect virtually with your Allies… Veterans also have experience with op.”