Veteran entrepreneurship is again a hot topic. America needs job creators now more than ever, and veterans are a great pool to draw from. We are resourceful, driven, work well in teams, and can get stuff done. The perfect archetype for an entrepreneur.
A few key decisions made all the difference for Justin McCarty, a former soldier now living in San Francisco. He grabbed opportunities as they were presented, accelerating the successful transition to a rewarding post-military career. McCarty, 30, now works in operations for a fast-growing startup. There he applies everything he learned in the military, college, and at previous jobs.
Brendan Hart wanted to be a fireman, not a Marine. As a New Yorker who saw the devastation of the Sept. 11 attacks first-hand, he felt a burn that all veterans can identify with: the desire to serve. He immediately tried to join New York Fire Department, but so did a lot of other people in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.The waitlist was several years, forcing Hart to reevaluate his future.
Chris Taylor stared at the limp body of a newborn baby. It was 2006, and he was in East Africa visiting a Darfur refugee camp. A young woman, too malnourished to breastfeed, was watching her own child die in her arms. “We immediately took her to our tent where we had Enfamil,” Taylor told me in an email, “We spent an hour teaching her how to feed her baby with the bottles.” Amazingly, the baby recovered almost immediately.
College is the next step for many people leaving the military. As a transition pathway, this makes a lot of sense. Yet somehow a lot of us get lost in the process: going to the wrong school, pursuing the wrong degree, and even failing to graduate. Many veterans fumble during their transition because they view college through a narrow lens, emphasizing a simplistic view of a degree as a "check in the box." These folks miss out of other opportunities that could substantially improve their lives after service.
It is not just the military that requires you to be tough and work hard. You will need to hustle no matter where you go. If you are getting out of the military pretty soon (or ever), do your best to get over the misconceptions about what to expect as a civilian.