Eight months after leaving active duty, I still hadn’t started a salaried job. I was working two internships and a number of side jobs, but I after sending out dozens of resumes, I hadn’t yet found an honest-to-goodness full-time position. I had left the Army as a captain, making very decent money once you factored in BAH. That was in Texas, where not only is the cost of living is extremely low, there’s no state income tax. Now, living in New York City, where rent, food, transportation, and taxes are near the highest in the U.S., I was making minimum wage. The internships were always meant to be stepping stones — a brief interlude in my career transition — to a decent-paying job in my chosen industry.
There are plenty of routes to go once you leave the military. For many, it means going back to school. For some, it means stepping straight into industry. Manufacturing is often an attractive sector for veterans for a number of reasons. For one, jobs in this category can offer you the satisfaction of creating something, or being in charge of people who are creating things. Secondly, you generally don’t need to go back to school for those type of jobs. And, it’s a sector that includes a number of union positions, which come with benefits.
U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matthew C. Duncker/Released)
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When I first started telling people I was leaving the Army, I didn’t have an elevator pitch ready to trot out. I stumbled over what to say and how to say it when people asked the inevitable “So what’s next?” I knew I needed to have a succinct, snappy answer once I started interviewing for positions, but I didn’t realize how useful it would be to figure out a short personal statement before I even started job searching.
When looking for a job, you shouldn’t limit yourself to just one type of search. There are numerous resources, including the internet, career fairs, and head hunters, that can help you find a post-military job.
You’re finished with your first civilian job interview, and now all that is left to do is follow up with an email to say thank you. This shows that you really want the job and are eager to show it. Most importantly, it allows you to continue the conversation from the interview, so that more questions can be asked or information offered, as necessary.