I think there are 6 keys to a successful transition:
1) Don't sell yourselves short! Any time you start something new, you always feel a bit uncomfortable as you get the feel of the new environment and learn its acronyms. But the reality is that you already have the skills that CEOs are looking for. The Conference Board, a business intelligence company, surveyed a group of CEOs several years ago, asking them what skills they were looking for in their employees. Here's what they said: good work ethic; good values; ability to work as a member of a team; good written and oral communications skills and ability to solve complex problems. Sound familiar? You've already got the hard to train skills.
2) Learn to ask for and accept help. You've come from an environment where it was all about the team and not the individual. Your training taught you to be part of a team, so it feels awkward to ask for help for yourself. Get over it! There are plenty of folks and organizations out there from both the public and private sector that are looking to make your transition back into society easier. It's OK to use them.
3) Build and use your network. One of the things I hear most as I talk to transitioning vets is, "What I really miss is the camaraderie." Over your service, you built bonds seared in combat that you will never forget. Yet we seem to go our own ways when we leave the service and lose track of our comrades. The U.S. military is a band of brothers and sisters that should be as strong supporting each other after we leave the military as we are when we are in it. That's where networking comes in. I don't have to tell you all about the power of social networking, but staying connected can reinforce your sense of still belonging, help you through your transition, and help you find a job. Platforms like RallyPoint will keep you connected, in touch, and maybe even employed.
4) Stay fit. Any time you go through a transition, it can be stressful. Staying physically, mentally, and emotionally fit takes work, but it will keep you resilient and help you get through the process. Make time to get the gym during the week, and if you know you are having trouble with something, get help quickly. You'll be stronger and more successful if you do.
5) Graduate. You succeeded during your time in the service because you persevered through some incredibly difficult situations. Your country and your family need you to take full advantage of the GI Bill to get the education you need to move this country forward. We need leaders with character and competence in both the public and private sectors. You can't be one of those leaders unless you graduate. You’ve always finished what you started so don't stop now.
6) Be Bold. My favorite quote is the one from Theodore Roosevelt about the "Man in the Arena." Don't let your "souls be counted among those cold and timid ones that know neither victory nor defeat." Nobody succeeds all the time, so everything you try won't be a huge success; but if you learn from your mistakes, do your homework, adapt and keep moving boldly forward, you'll be surprised what you will accomplish.
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*These opinions belong to the writer and in no way reflect the views of the DoD or other departments of the US government.