‘I treat school like a job’ — Meet Otis Hill, a student, veteran, and Comcast employee

The following story highlights a veteran at Comcast. Committed to including talented members of the military community in its workplace, Comcast is a client of Hirepurpose, a Task & Purpose sister company. Learn more here.

After eight years as a Navy intelligence specialist, Otis Hill was ready to continue his education. Before the Navy, he had spent two years in college, but felt like he was “just spinning his wheels.”

After his military experience, he was ready to complete a degree. HirePurpose caught up with Hill to learn more about his inspiring journey through service, education, and career.

1. Did you know what you wanted to do after the military? How did you choose a major?

I knew I wanted to continue my education. The disconnect came when I looked at jobs I thought I would be good at because they were similar to things I had done in the Navy, but I didn’t expand those options to encompass all the skills I’d acquired along the way. I thought I would be happy doing management information systems in business school, but after one or two quarters at Drexel University, I realized that wasn’t my calling in life. I switched gears pretty quickly after that. My feverish search for something that would be a good match for my skillset, helped me land on the field of law. My mind made up, I changed my major the very next day to legal studies, and have been pursuing itfor the past two years. I’m applying to law school now.

2. How was your college experience different after joining the Navy than it was before?

I was at Texas A&M for two years before I joined the Navy. I didn’t feel fully invested in college. I was there because it was what my mother expected me to do, and I didn’t want to disappoint her. The harsh reality was that I wasn’t ready for college. My advice to others contemplating college is to make sure you have your own reasons for going to school. Someone else’s reasons are not going to be enough to pull you through. Along with having my own purpose now, I’m older and more mature. I’ve led people, and I’ve had responsibilities where if I made a mistake, it could cost people their lives. Now I treat school like a job. I attend class every session, and I’m engaged, versus my original haphazard attempt.

I actually enjoy going to class now because I have an end goal in mind. It was harder to keep the end goal in mind when I didn’t see a future in my original courses. This is especially true of degrees that don’t have clearly defined career paths. If you’re pursuing a degree where”it is what you make of it,” then you better know what you’re going to make of it!

3. Tell us about your decision to enroll in Drexel University. What makes them stand out for veterans?

Originally, I chose the school based on the geographic area, because I have a sister attending medical school in the Philadelphia area. I knew I wanted to go to a school with a co-op program. Drexel has a partnership with companies throughout the area. When you participate in a co-op, local companies provide jobs that are comparable to entry-level degree jobs, so it’s very good work experience. You get out of college with one to two years of solid work experience in your field. It shows that a Navy veteran is adaptable enough to do well in the corporate world too. When I talk to people I know at some other universities, the difference I see is that there is no real structure in place to give them work experience or internships. Drexel has a very strong veteran support team.

They help us with all the paperwork, ensure we get all our payments from the GI Bill, and we can register for classes before everyone else. They really cater to veterans with events and veteran alumni contacts.

4. You felt a co-op program was valuable for your degree. Tell us how that works.

The majority of students here take six months “off” two or three times during their college program to work with those companies. If you take one class during that time, it’s free, so I always do that. I’m doing a co-op with Comcast right now. It’s great experience, and they’re very supportive of veterans.

5. In what ways does Comcast help veterans or support your education choices?

Comcast values the skillsets that are learned in the military — such as leadership, teamwork, and acting with integrity — and clearly understand how they translate to their workforce. The company actively recruits members of the military to join their team and are well on their way to achieving their goal of hiring 21,000 veterans, military spouses, and Reservists by 2021.

They have a very strong veterans network employee resource group. You don’t always see that at larger companies. They also have a team dedicated solely to Military and Veteran Affairs and recruiters across the organization focused on military hiring.

One of the really valuable things that the company will do for a member of the military community is to help go through his or her resume and translate military skills to civilian terms and to more clearly show how they could benefit Comcast, or any other company. Getting support from Comcast has been important because the military transition programs are inconsistent and just not adequate. It’s great to be able to get support and valuable information, like how to develop your LinkedIn profile, above and beyond what the military provides.

6. What types of education and employment resources would you recommend for veterans?

The GI Bill is awesome! There’s no reason not to use it. They pay for housing and everything. There are people who don’t even consider going to school. I think everyone should really look at their options and strongly consider it. I know some people who have used the GI Bill for vocational school.

I went through FourBlock, which is run by veterans who have partnerships with organizations across the U.S. They started an online program with Columbia University recently. I had the opportunity to network at a variety of different companies to get advice about resumes and interviews. Philadelphia also has some veteran resources. The local veterans group is very active, and there is a group that looks at graduate school applications for veterans. They will give assistance and conduct mock interviews. I have used them to prepare for my law school application.

My advice is to know what resources are available to you, and take full advantage of them! When looking for work, remember to include your student and military experience. During my time in the Navy, I worked with a lot of different interpreters, so we had to understand different cultures, people, and do a lot of report-writing. A lot of those skills have carried over and been relevant in the corporate world. Being able to talk to people and write about it translates easily to corporate jobs.

This article was sponsored by Comcast.