The military may force you to grow up and learn responsibility. Along the way, you may also learn about leadership, diversity, and decision-making. When you follow those skills into the civilian workforce, you might fall in love with a completely unexpected career. That’s what happened to Lt. Col. (U. S. Army Reserve) Jerry Quinn.
Growing up in a family of 13 kids, he joined the military in 1985 to take advantage of education benefits. He said the Army saved his life and led him to a career he loves at Wells Fargo. He now manages the Military Affairs Program at Wells Fargo, where he continually makes a difference in the lives of veterans.
Hirepurpose sat down with Lt. Col. Quinn to learn more about his journey into a veteran-friendly company.
HIREPURPOSE: Lt. Col. Quinn, give us a summary of some of the positions you have held in the military during the past 30 years.
By the time I had six years active duty, I had worked in Germany, Washington, Panama, Iraq, and
Saudi Arabia. It was a tremendous learning experience, with exposure to diverse cultures. I had orders to go to Korea, but would have had to extend. Instead of reenlisting, I decided to go to college. I wasn’t ready for college after high school, and I realize now I had a lot of growing up to do. The Army helped me do that. My commander helped me get an early-out so I could attend college for that school year.
I transitioned to the Army National Guard, doing a total of 10 years enlisted. After finishing college, I was selected for Officer Candidate School and assigned to the Field Artillery Brigade in Colorado. My previous years of enlisted experience contributed to my success as an officer. My senior and mid-grade officer career led me to the role of a Brigade Deputy Commander
HP: You earned two degrees during your time in the military: a bachelor of science in finance and real estate, then an MBA in change management. What inspired you to pursue higher education? Did you use any military programs to finance your degrees?
I would not have been accepted at Colorado State University without my military experience. The GI Bill was very important to me. I was very set on enlisting for four years and using the Montgomery GI Bill. Today’s GI Bill is a lot better. When I went to school I still needed to use student loans. My MBA was largely covered by Wells Fargo. I can’t stress enough that veterans need to use benefits like scholarships, such as the Yellow Ribbon Scholarship and Scholarship America’s Scholarships and Emergency Grants for Veterans sponsored by Wells Fargo.
HP: Why would you recommend a career in banking to other veterans transitioning out of military service?
I didn’t know I wanted to be a banker. When II stumbled across the mentor I didn’t know I needed she helped guide me in my career pursuit. That’s one reason we know the American Corporate Partners mentoring is so important. My mentor found an internship for me at a local community bank, and I fell in love with the way banking impacted our communities. At a place like Wells Fargo, it isn’t just about taking deposits and making the economy grow. We have jobs in human resources, cybersecurity, programming, management, etc. I hope veterans will view it as a world-class Fortune 50 company with diverse opportunities. Use a program like Hire Heroes USA to determine how you want to serve in your community and where you belong in the corporate world. Find what you love doing.
HP: What are some specific ways that the Wells Fargo military program is helping veterans?
We are committed to employing veterans and helping them succeed. We recognize that military
service members have volunteered to serve their country, and they thrive in settings where they can serve their communities. We have a Veteran Team Member Network of more than 8,000 people who volunteer in their communities.
Wells Fargo supports the following veteran organizations:
- Scholarship America’s Veterans Scholarship aims to help cover costs so the student doesn’t go into debt. It can start out at $7,000, and then tacks on an additional $1,000 each year as an incentive to finish school. That is the difference between veterans being able to focus on studies vs. juggling a part-time job.
- Team Red White and Blue helps veterans promote comradery, community, and service.
- Hire Heroes USA helps transitioning veterans with resume-writing and translating skills.
- American Corporate Partners provides mentors to veterans. Wells Fargo has nearly 100 mentors for veterans, having mentored over 300 transitioning veterans. Ninety-eight percent of our managers said they will do it again, and that they got as much or more out of the program than their protégés.
- Military Warrior Support Foundation donates homes to wounded veterans. Through Wells Fargo, the organization has donated more than 350 homes. Veteran team members can earn extra incentives to help renovate homes through our team member volunteer program.
- Hands on Banking: Military offers financial education specific to military service members pay, entitlements and budget. Since 2013, the program has been shared with more than 1 million military service members, veterans and their families. It was chosen by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and Guideposts as the exclusive platform for providing service members resources to budget for and use the Blended Retirement System.
- The Servicemember Civil Relief Act (SCRA) provides certain financial protections and benefits for service members Wells Fargo is committed to ensuring any benefits our mobilized or deployed service members are entitled to are provided. There is an entire team of people at Wells Fargo that assists with SCRA.
HP: In what ways do you believe military veterans make great employees?
Teamwork and sense of service are ingrained in veterans, and contribute to their decision-making.
Diversity is embedded in military culture — all backgrounds, heritages, and socio-economic conditions. I have the great fortune of working in inclusive environments that embrace an atmosphere of diversity and inclusion. That has helped with my civilian career.
Veterans are adaptable, disciplined, and want to do something meaningful. Veterans are great for positions of responsibility and for organizations that have to navigate change.
The military challenges service members’ leadership skills. They grow through those experiences. In the military, services members need to effectively executive their leader’s mission with limited information and changing environments. It can be difficult to translate those skills in a resume, but veterans should be prepared to explain and demonstrate that they are able to lead in a fast-paced environment.