People also view their careers differently, changing jobs and career paths more often. Military veterans have a unique perspective on being adaptable and applying leadership skills wherever they work.
Matt Malinowski has some experience with that. He majored in psychology at Kent State with an ROTC scholarship. He then joined the army, where he worked in finance, managing budgets, contracts and procurement for almost five years. When he left the army, he enrolled in a 12-week corporate training program called the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program. He then got hired by 3M, the company he trained with, working in supply chain as a supplier development supervisor in Austin, Texas.
Matt is on track to have a longer tenure in his jobs than most of his peers. According to a study by CNN Money and LinkedIn, the average Gen Xer changed jobs twice in their first 10 years after graduating from college while more recent millennial graduates typically swap jobs four times during their first 10 years out of school. And often in different industries.
Workers like Matt focus on building on new skills while applying what they have already learned.
“I was a psychology major in college and then the army made me a finance officer,” says Matt. “I had to assist in running a multimillion-dollar budget the day I showed up. So, it was a big change for me.”
Matt says four months of training helped to prepare him for the role, plus he had additional mentorship and support from other officers.
“There are a lot of skills you learn very fast in the military,” says Matt. “The first is taking care of your people. Every leader understands that their people are what make their mission successful. It’s the first and most important thing I learned.” He says the military really taught him to think beyond himself. If you are stressed or upset, you can’t let it impact the rest of the team.
He says the military also taught him to focus on the mission at hand and adjust as needed. “You may not have all the information,” he says. “You’re never going to know everything and plans are going to change all the time.”
Chris Kondo manages recruitment for military veterans and people with disabilities at 3M. He says these skills and leadership behaviors make military veterans a great fit for corporations. 3M started to participate in the Hiring Our Heroes program a few years ago. Through the program, veterans get 12 weeks of training to learn how to apply their skills to the corporate world.
“It’s hands-on, and it’s an acculturation program,” says Chris. “They possess a lot of discipline and know-how – they just need some help with learning how things are done in the corporate world.”
He says careers managing processes, like supply chain, lean six sigma and IT, are a good fit for many people who have experience with managing similar programs in the military. “In the military, you’re moving everything from weaponry to food and fuel from point A to point Z,” he says. “So, these individuals really need to be adept at having plans and executing upon them. Veterans make excellent employees.”
Matt says the program really helped him transition between worlds. “There are a lot of differences between military and civilian life,” he says. “This program paired me with a mentor who later became my supervisor. They train you in the role, plus everyday things like meetings.” In his new role, Matt works with suppliers to manage change and help them improve their performance, if needed. “I had no idea this career existed,” he says. “I’m glad I found it.”