Translating Military Careers into Civilian Jobs
A Challenging Transition
When Erin Nelson left the Air Force after a successful 7 ½ years she assumed her experience would quickly lead to a civilian job. Her background included work as an Intelligence Operations and Anti-Terrorism Instructor as well as several Commander positions. She completed job preparation courses for transitioning Airmen and focused her search on her interests, skills, and experience. However, after several months of job searching with no success Nelson realized her military years might not translate into civilian employment as easily as she had thought.
Identifying Strengths and Job Opportunities
Like most job seekers, Nelson frequently used LinkedIn to search for openings, veteran advice, and career coaching. Just as she was beginning to feel financially and emotionally drained, Nelson came across information about Easter Seals’ Veterans Staffing Network (VSN), a discovery that put her back on the right path to finding meaningful employment.
After contacting the VSN, Nelson began working with career coach Sin Kook, who helped focus her search and held her accountable to speciﬁc goals. “Sin answered all the questions I had; she was that unbiased person I could go to that wouldn’t make me feel like I should already know the answers. She helped me prepare for all interviews and presentations, but it was more than that. When I was down after not hearing any responses from jobs for a while she would talk me through it,” says Nelson.
Nelson soon found an opportunity with her local police department that was a great match. With Kook and VSN´s support, Nelson prepared for her interview and landed the job. She now works as a Crime Analyst at the Fairfax County Police Department where she shines, applying her intelligence background to analyzing police reports, looking for crime patterns, and making bulletins.
A Staffing Agency Just for Vets
Easters Seals´ VSN operates nationally and is an innovative nonprofit staffing agency for veterans, service members and their families. The program aims to help veterans, wounded warriors, and their spouses to transition to civilian life and navigate meaningful career paths. To date, the VSN has nearly 750 full-time, career-focused job placements.
“Our unique business model includes collaboration with businesses, government, military and Veteran Service Organizations to ensure that veterans and military family members are prepared for and secure meaningful employment, and employers receive the most qualified candidates,” says Tim Stecher, Executive Vice President of Veterans Employment, VSN.
The VSN was launched in 2013 with a $425,000 grant from Capital One. The program is further supported with a recent $1 million grant to provide comprehensive employment coaching and placement for thousands of veterans and their families and to become a self-sustaining program by the end of 2017.
“America’s veterans and military spouses have years of experience and training doing precisely the kind of work that companies are doing every day – working with state of the art technologies, solving logistical challenges, juggling multiple priorities, and meeting challenging and changing expectations,” says John G. Finneran, Jr., General Counsel, Capital One. “The support and mentorship that Easter Seals provides through the Veteran Staffing Network is helping to fundamentally change the way businesses recruit, hire and retain veterans and military spouses within their organizations. These are talented men and women and by providing job opportunities and investing in their success, the business community and our country have a great deal to gain.”