Nina Semczuk served as an Army officer from 2011-2016. She earned a B.S. from Boston University prior to military service and now lives in New York and works as a writer and editor. Find her work on SmartAsset, The Muse, The War Horse, Fast Company, and at ninasemczuk.com.
The night before an important interview, I desperately researched all the latest news in the company’s industry. I tried to memorize all the skills the job description outlined and internally recited the finer details on how to operate certain software systems the position required.
Within two weeks of moving to New York City, I found myself sitting in a room at the Y. Around the table sat men and women of every race, age, and demographics. What we shared in common was our veteran status and our desire to write. That writing group — Voices From War — helped me feel part of something new, but also old, in the largest city of the U.S., one that many people find alienating.
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.
After five years in the Army, I learned pretty quickly that the job hunt is chaotic. You have to create multiple versions of your resume, craft countless cover letters, and keep track of where you applied and when. Not to mention, keep up with LinkedIn and any other social media you’ve decided to use during your job search. All the moving parts can add so many layers of disorganization.
I’d wager that almost every vet (well, at least those who served in the Army), have a better understanding of logistics than the average civilian. Even though my role in the Army was intelligence, I still had to do logistics, from planning field exercises for my soldiers as a platoon leader, to equipping a company when I was an executive officer. We planned and executed the movement of people and equipment on a daily basis — all aspects of logistics.
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.