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Up for a Business Adventure? Try A JMO Transition To Corporate America.
When my wife and I decided on my JMO transition from the Army, one of the first questions we asked was, “Where will we live?” We quickly reached the seemingly obvious conclusion that we’d live in San Antonio. We both grew up in the Alamo City and much of our family still lives there – why wouldn’t we move home? So, I immediately started trying to connect with companies in the area. I sent my resume to 6 or 7 companies that I knew were based in San Antonio. As the days grew to weeks and week to months without even a “Don’t call us, we’ll call you”, I realized I needed a hand and called Cameron-Brooks.
As I progressed in the Cameron-Brooks Development and Preparation Program, I discovered that the likely reason no one called me back is because my background – at least on the surface, it did not relate to jobs in Corporate America. I have a System Engineering degree, I was a Field Artillery officer, and I had military work experience in team leadership, problem solving and project management. While I’d argue that my leadership experience is exactly why companies hire JMOs, my experience was not an obvious fit to them or me (at the time). You see, I built a skill set as an Army officer that does not immediately translate. Essentially, I didn’t have any business experience.
Deciding to stay in or get out of the military is a binary choice – you are either in or out; you either wear the uniform every day or you don’t. Additionally, the obvious transition out of the military is to go to work for another government agency or defense-related company. That makes sense because most JMOs have essentially “grown up” in the defense industry. It is harder to take a great military skill set and transition to business because of the complete industry change. That said, one of the differences between being in the military and being in business is once someone works Corporate America, they are always in Corporate America. It is no longer binary (in or out), regardless of company, job or location.
So what’s my point? One of the best ways to launch your business career is to interview with as many companies who: 1) understand your background; 2) are willing to place you in a position that is commensurate with your leadership experience; and 3) are hiring you with the expectation that you will grow to higher level of leadership. Basically, break into the business world and get into the very best company and role for YOU. In doing so, you’ll be pouring accelerant on your new business career. To ensure a high degree of success with this strategy usually requires an openness to different geographical areas or order to get exposed to enough of the right roles. So, go have an adventure! Go build a skill set in business to complement your military experience – in doing so, you will give yourself the leverage to truly own your career and give yourself more options down the road. And if you really want to be in San Antonio (or wherever), build a skill set and navigate your way there. My colleague, Joel Junker, summarized this point perfecting in this 4+ minute video. If you are considering transitioning and interested in learning more about this strategy, it’s worth the watch.
Best of success,
Pete Van Epps