The concept of “coffee meetings” and the phrase “informational meeting” was foreign when I was in the Army. My unit’s “open door policy,” designed to encourage young soldiers to seek mentorship or report issues not addressed by line supervisors, in reality equated to avoiding senior leaders at all costs. It was just unthinkable for me, in the Army, to ask someone to meet with me so I could learn about his or her career. For one thing, no one had the time for that, and two, it just wasn’t done.
In the civilian world, however, informational meetings and phone calls happen all the time. You’ve likely heard the ever-present advice that “you have to network!” — it’s true, but often leaves service members like us wondering how exactly to network with those in the industry we want to work in, when our network is all still in the military.
That’s where informational meetings, also known as coffee dates, come in handy. The first step is to identify a few people who have a career you’d like to learn more about. Could be a friend of a friend, someone on LinkedIn, or a person you notice on a company’s “about” page. Once you’ve found a few people, craft an email that explains why you’d like to speak to him or her, a bit about your background, and a line or two about what you’d like to pursue. Here’s an outline to get you going:
Subject: Career transition question from a (soldier/airman/etc) curious about (industry or position)
Your career as an (insert job position here) seems fascinating, with how (insert a relevant detail about a challenge or project that position faces).
I’d love to buy you a coffee and learn about your background and what made you choose (industry). I’m leaving the military in (# of months/weeks/days) and exploring potential career paths. If you have a few minutes, I’d love to sit down with you to discuss (something you’re interested in about his or her career).
If you can’t meet, would you be free for a short phone call on (give two dates and time options)?
If you can add something you have in common to the note, even better. This could be a shared alma mater, military branch, hometown, hobby, mutual friend, whatever. Stalk personal websites (and of course, LinkedIn), to see if you share anything in common that’ll help you personalize the note.
It’s hard, but don’t be shy. Coffee meetings and networking phone calls are more common than you think. Most people are flattered when you ask them to share their experience and give you advice. Just keep in mind this tactic works best with those who aren’t famous or at the CEO level; your best bet is to aim for someone that’s either in the position you want at a parallel company, or a few steps ahead.
The Marine lieutenant colonel removed from command of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in May was ousted over alleged "misconduct" but has not been charged with a crime, Task & Purpose has learned.
Lt. Col. Francisco Zavala, 42, who was removed from his post by the commanding general of 1st Marine Division on May 7, has since been reassigned to the command element of 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, and a decision on whether he will be charged is "still pending," MEF spokeswoman 1st Lt. Virginia Burger told Task & Purpose last week.
"We are not aware of any ongoing or additional investigations of Lt. Col. Zavala at this time," MEF spokesman 2nd Lt. Brian Tuthill told Task & Purpose on Monday. "The command investigation was closed May 14 and the alleged misconduct concerns Articles 128 and 133 of the UCMJ," Tuthill added, mentioning offenses under military law that deal with assault and conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.
"There is a period of due process afforded the accused and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty," he said.
When asked for an explanation for the delay, MEF officials directed Task & Purpose to contact 1st Marine Division officials, who did not respond before deadline.
The investigation of Zavala, completed on May 3 and released to Task & Purpose in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, showed that he had allegedly acted inappropriately. The report also confirmed some details of his wife's account of alleged domestic violence that Task & Purpose first reported last month.
On Monday, Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans received a suspended sentence of 60 days in jail, said Samantha Dooies, an assistant to the New Hanover County District Attorney.
Evans must complete 18 months of unsupervised probation, pay $8,000 in restitution, complete a domestic violence offenders program, and he cannot have any contact with his former girlfriend, Dooies told Task & Purpose. The special operations Marine is also only allowed to have access to firearms though the military while on base or deployed.