May 26, 2023 – Transitioning from the military to the civilian workforce can be a challenging move for veterans who are looking to use their skills in a different setting. In the latest episode of Schein Chats, Josh Lewis, a Marine Corps veteran and Carry the Load ambassador, and Rusell Williamson, U.S. Army veteran and VP of Global Strategic Partnerships at Henry Schein recently discussed how companies can support veterans during that transition.
Carry the Load is a non-profit organization founded more than a decade ago as a grassroots effort by two Veteran U.S. Navy SEALs to restore the true meaning of Memorial Day and to raise awareness of the sacrifices surrounding men and women in uniform. The program has since turned into a nationwide movement.
Lewis laid out three key ways to make that succession from military life to the civilian workforce successful:
- Be great where you’re at – No matter what role you are in, it’s important to serve that role to your highest ability. If you’re looking to move ahead in the company, you first need to be great where you are. Lewis said, “I know a lot of veterans who come in wanting to be a VP. To be that VP, the first thing you have to do is be great where you’re at. A lot of people lose sight over that.”
- You need a mentor – Mentors are a critical component to entering the corporate world, giving you deeper insights into the company and the industry from someone with years of experience. When the time comes to move into a new position, they can provide support and encouragement during that transition. “I had a mentor who taught me how to navigate the firm and she was a huge cheerleader for me when it came time to take that next step,” Lewis said.
- Create your brand – When you’re in the military, it’s easy to wear medals and other regalia to show your accomplishments. In a professional setting, it is much more nuanced. Figuring out how to brand yourself and acknowledge your accomplishments at your organization is critical to your success. Lewis said, “I needed to figure out how to tell people that I did x amount of dollars in business last year. Other people need to understand that you’re doing a great job and looking forward to other positions in the company.”