University of Maryland University College’s (UMUC) Office of Career Services launched Government Week – a series of information sessions dedicated to students and alumni interested in employment opportunities in the city, state, and federal government – with a panel discussion for military students and alumni looking to transition into a government career.
The panel was moderated by UMUC Associate Vice President of Veteran’s Initiatives and retired Army Colonel Keith Hauk, PSAV Senior Recruiter and retired Air Force veteran Tanishia Lewis ’15, Defense Technology Security Administration’s Chief Information Security Officer and retired Air Force veteran, Gregory Barber ’07, ’12, ’15, and myself, UMUC’s Assistant Director of InternPlus and military spouse.
The panel discussion provided UMUC students and alumni with information on how to translate their military experience to civilian hiring managers, and each panelist shared some of their personal and professional experiences with this topic. Lewis shared her expertise not only about hiring veterans and civilians, but also about the unique route she took to landing her current role. She shared that she worked in various temporary jobs to build her resume of experiences and her reputation as a productive, reliable worker. Her story is a perfect example of how military members should not feel entitled to a job and that sometimes you have to take an entry level job or two in order to end up where you want to be. She also emphasized the importance of customizing a resume for each individual job posting you are applying to since companies large and small search for keywords based on what is in the job description when evaluating candidates’ qualifications.
Barber shared the perspective of moving from the military to a government job and repeatedly stressed the importance of giving yourself plenty of time for your job search, particularly if you want to get a federal job. He suggested that you plan your transition at least one year prior to separating or retiring so that you have ample time to get your resume together and to begin to search for your next opportunity. He also emphasized the importance of using UMUC’s Career Services to help you with your resume, job search, attending events, and improving your network. In addition to the technical experience you bring to an employer, Barber mentioned the importance of soft skills such as communications and leadership.
I was able to elaborate on specific resources that are helpful for a military transition based on my nearly four years of experience teaching the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) curriculum. Some of the resources that I shared with the group include:
- Veteran’s Preference Advisor: A comprehensive tool for determining eligibility for Veteran’s Preference http://webapps.dol.gov/elaws/vets/vetpref/mservice.htm
- Feds Hire Vets: A one-stop resource for transitioning service members and veterans seeking federal employment https://www.fedshirevets.gov/
- Veterans.gov: Developed by the Department of Labor, this site is a comprehensive resource for transition websites and information www.veterans.gov
- VA’s Employment Center: Provides career advice, résumé-building assistance, and access to employers who are committed to hiring Veterans and military spouses. https://www.vets.gov/employment/
- Department of Labor Employment Workshop Participant Guide: The latest guide for the Transition GPS (TAP) curriculum; revised April 2016 https://www.dol.gov/vets/programs/tap.htm
I also provided the perspective of a military spouse who can play many important roles during a service member’s transition, one of which being an accountability partner. Even if the spouse is not able to attend the transition workshops, the spouse can still ask what the service member learned, review a resume, conduct a mock interview, or do research on prospective companies, jobs, or locations. The spouse can also make sure that the service member is actively creating a resume, applying for jobs, preparing for interviews, networking, and doing all of the other various things that must be done when leaving the military.
Click here to watch the recording of this discussion.
To register for future career events, visit careerquest.umuc.edu/. If you have any questions, please contact UMUC’s Office of Career Services and Alumni Relations at 240-684-2720 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kristin Schrader is the Assistant Director of InternPLUS at University of Maryland University College where she advises students and alumni on career changes and experiential education opportunities. She has a background in human resources and has worked in career services at four universities. Most recently, she was the Lead Trainer in Europe for the U.S. Department of Labor Employment Workshop teaching transitioning U.S. service members about the civilian job search. She is also a proud Army spouse.