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As a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a newly minted second lieutenant, I felt well-prepared to tackle the challenges facing a junior field artillery officer in the U.S. Army. When the time came to leave the Army, however, I was much less prepared to make the transition into the yet-unknown civilian sector.
One of the primary issues facing veterans after we transition is that we lack the same sense of purpose and mission that we had with our military careers. Today, more than ever, our service members volunteer to put themselves in harm's way. They are defending our freedom across the globe and should be recognized as our country's true heroes. It's critical that employers educate veterans and provide viable options so we can make informed decisions about the rest of our lives.
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.
Splunk Offers Free Data Analysis Training for Vets
For Anthony Frascarelli, his work as a SONAR technician seemed to have little civilian value. Then he found a surprising connection between the detail-oriented troubleshooting skills he forged working on a submarine and the analytical mindset he would need to tackle big-data issues for Fortune 100 companies.
Some people learn to love the jobs they have; some spend years searching for the perfect one. For some, it all comes together without even trying. For Travis Johnson, a Master Sergeant in the Louisiana National Guard, it was the latter. His civilian job and his National Guard job both bring him incredible joy and fulfillment.
Tom Schofield decided early in his senior year of high school that the military was for him — particularly the Marine Corps. "It was the hardest, the most respected, and it would be a challenge," he thought. He was right. But he never expected that four years on active duty would prepare him for a successful civilian career.
While Schofield trained as an administrative clerk, a little over half of his time in the Corps was supporting a senior general. He felt this skill set would allow him to advance faster in the civilian world, especially compared to the time restrictions in rank and grade in military promotions.
Experience or education?
Schofield began as a supervisor of over 60 couriers for a biotech company. "Among the skills the company was seeking were things I learned in the Marine Corps," he said. "Not specific things like filing Marine Corps paperwork, but skills like handling complex situations and reacting quickly to problems." He has used those transferable skills in every role since.
Many veterans worry about their education and experience levels matching up, but they don't always have to. Schofield started college classes while in the military, and finished his bachelor's degree 12 years later. He worked methodically through the program, taking one class at a time while working full time.
Schofield worked through college, but he strongly recommends that all veterans take advantage of their GI Bill benefits. It may also be worth looking at what your company offers: "LabCorp paid for a substantial part of my college through their tuition reimbursement program," he said.
Tom Schofield Courtesy of Tom Schofield
No regrets, lot of options
As an administrative clerk in the Marine Corps, Schofield learned a lot about policy and paperwork. Supporting several senior officers meant managing schedules, travel arrangements, and personnel. He has no regrets from his time in these positions.
Working at LabCorp has given Schofield a lot of opportunities throughout his civilian career. His first job was for a company that LabCorp eventually acquired; a few years later, Schofield was back working for them again. "I came back to LabCorp as General Manager, running a specialty company for about five years," he said. "Then I moved back home and called LabCorp about a position."
Thanks to networking and those who know him from before, Schofield was welcomed back to fill a unique role: "They took a chance on me, and a year later they reorganized into smaller divisions and asked me to run operations for the largest of those divisions." The new position challenges him to improve situations and grow within the changes in the healthcare industry.
Find a career that can grow
One of the most important pieces of advice Schofield has for veterans and transitioning service members is to find something where you can grow. He has seen many opportunities for professional growth during his employment with LabCorp.
What started as supervisor of couriers has turned into the strategy director of operations for one of the biggest health care companies in the Northeast. "I've reached associate vice president in this company twice," he said. "And healthcare is evolving tremendously right now." Schofield is happy in his role and looking forward to the growth and change coming in the next year.
Most people associate LabCorp with laboratory technology, but there is so much more that goes on there. "My responsibilities are to manage about 1,000 people who don't work in the lab," Schofield said. Those jobs cover phlebotomy, logistics and data collection and entry.
"The opportunity for upward mobility is there, and there are a lot of leadership roles," he said. "Companies look to the military for strong leadership characteristics," Schofield encourages veterans to highlight their leadership experience on their resume and in job interviews.
"The core values I learned in the Corps – hard work, solid work ethic, and challenging the status quo – are things I've used throughout my civilian career," Schofield said. He credits the leadership he had early on in the military with his success now. "LabCorp is looking for dynamic and inspiring leaders," he said, and it's seeking them out in veterans.
There’s something unique about Anton Lewis’ LinkedIn profile. Not only does he have an extensive range of experiences at pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, but he also is very successful using corporate terms to describe his military experience. He mentions the size of teams he has led and the monetary value of contracts he was responsible for. When HirePurpose dug deeper, we learned that his Army experience was with the Air Defense Artillery Corps. He led a Stinger platoon and was an executive officer for a Patriot battery. He successfully leveraged that experience to become a regional sales director at GSK. We sat down with Anton to learn how he made that happen.