I guess this is “expand my horizons”
time with The Job Stalker, as last week I had a guest post on the
new college graduate, and this week I have a piece looking at the
transition from military service to the crowded civilian job
pool. This comes in from John Durfee, who left the Marine Corps
after two terms and three deployments. He was at first overwhelmed
by the unstructured options that were out there (despite the harsh
job market), but found that utilizing the training he’d had in the
military enabled him to focus his search and get established in a new
career. He wanted to share some of his observations on making this
change with the young men and women moving out of the services.
by John Durfee
My father was a military man. So was his father before him and his father before him. So,
as you might expect, right out of high school I joined the Marines and my father supported me every step
of the way. It’s quite a transition from high school to boot camp. I went from algebra and PE to
combat training and PT. I can
survive under fire for weeks at a time with no support. I know how to ration my food and water
to last me on extended patrols. And anybody who’s ever been through military training will know this
one: I know how to clean something that is already clean. A few years ago, I got home from my
third deployment, my second term of service was about to come to an end, and I felt it was time
to go a new direction with my life. I’ve got a family to support and I wanted to enter the civilian
business world but what am I going to do with these skills? I was a rifleman. How does that
translate into corporate America? I was 26 years old and I had risen to the rank of Staff Sergeant in the Marine Corps., did
I really have to start at the bottom rung again?
The answer is no. While my survival and combat skills didn’t directly translate to the
corporate world, values like communication, leadership, and overall awareness that were
instilled in me by the military did. It’s easy to get discouraged when looking for a job,
especially in today’s job market, but I just remembered my training and these values have
helped me through civilian life similarly to the way they helped me through the military. Three
qualities in particular were especially helpful in the search for a civilian career:
Dedication to my mission. This helped me push through when the hunt seemed
hopeless. I never gave up the job search or faltered in my steps toward becoming a successful
civilian, no matter how discouraging the process. Beyond the search, I never gave up a
promising lead as a marketing manager. I am an immovable, impervious marketing machine
now thanks to some marketing seminars and the man I became through good old boot camp.
Discipline to stay on task. It is extremely important in the forces to get things done in an efficient and timely matter. There were tons
of distractions along the way. After a few days, just about anything seemed preferable to job
searching but I just kept on keeping on. Just like combat or even PT, you just don’t stop going
till it’s done. Now that I’ve got a job, this translates into the discipline of years of
military drilling to follow my chain of command and lead an efficient work place.
Self awareness. I need to know myself and my team – know their skills and their
limitations. I know so much more about myself – my strengths and weeknesses – because of my
time in the military. In the job search, I was able to properly apply myself and my resources in
an effective manner to avoid wasting my time and energy on dead ends or lost causes.
I also found out fairly quickly in my job search that I was mistaken in my initial
discouragement. There is actually a good amount of call for men of my stature in the American
work force. A
career as a police officer or a security guard (anything from private security to mall cop to
club bouncer) would incorporate many of the skills that one develops through time in the military. These include
strict discipline, weapons handling, hand to hand combat, and how to diffuse potentially
violent situations. These are noble, interesting professions that are each a logical next step to
take after you exit the military. In many cases, your time in the military often counts as job
the nation’s largest retailer of Airsoft Guns including Spring Airsoft Rifles.
I must admit, this was an area not much
“on my radar” … I grew up with the specter of the Viet Nam war
played out on the TV every night, with grim body counts and domestic
turmoil … and “the horror” of that effected my entire generation.
I was lucky in that the draft was ended right when I was coming of
age for the military, so was able to avoid being shipped off to
southeast Asia. I realize that these days, military service is a
great “starting point” for young folks, offering a lot of
opportunities both for training, and personal growth … but that
making the move back to civilian life has got to be challenging. I
hope that John’s words help!