Helping students who are vets get internships and jobs

November 1, 2011 at 8:52 am | Posted in Finding internships | Leave a comment
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Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

A growing number of college students have military service backgrounds and need career advice. Among vets ages 18-24, unemployment is at a staggering 26.8%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s about three times the general unemployment rate, which is still hovering at 9.1%. To help combat the problem, the Labor Department has just issued 22 grants, totaling $9 million to various states to help with workforce development. The fall issue of USAA magazine suggests several ways that you as a career services professional can help the vets on your campus:

  • Educate employers:  Remind your employers about the benefits of taking interns or hiring employees with service backgrounds. These men and women offer discipline and commitment and a willingness to accept training and follow direction. They bring value to the work place and are good role models for other interns or employees. Many of their  skills are transferable to the civilian lifestyle. Most of the employers that you work with are simply unable to relate to the experiences of service members, so it’s up to you to help bridge the communication gap, making them feel more comfortable around vets.
  • Educate vets:  Students who are vets need additional training and guidance before they write their resumes and apply for internships or jobs. First, they have to translate their military experiences into civilian language. For example, instead of using the word “reconnaissance” on a resume, select “survey, analysis, or data collection.” Instead of saying “reassemble a rifle in a minute,” try “expertise in mechanics.” Advise your students not to talk about battles or shooting or wartime experiences, but to offer stamina or ability to work long hours. Since vets turned students often lack confidence, you might name some former vets who have found great success, such as Bob McDonald, CEO, Procter & Gamble.

Identify most veteran-friendly employers:  Visit for the best list of potential employers. For example, ManTech International, national security, hired over 4,000 employees in 2010, and 50% were military. Also, Amazon, online retailer, has built a military talent program, including a team of dedicated military recruiters. Follow them on Twitter at USAA, financial services, reports that 20% of its 22,000+ employees are former military. Other companies range from DaVita with healthcare to Chesapeake Energy Corp. with energy. And emphasize the power of social networking. Suggest that your former vets tap into groups on LinkedIn that are military specific. Many vets take special pride in helping other vets.

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