Veterans, Your Skills Transfer to the Civilian Sector

By Mahlon Braden, Sr. Software Engineer and U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer (Ret.)

Today marks another day a veteran sets down a uniform and transitions into the civilian sector. It happens all the time, and whether ending a service period of four years or retiring after more than 20 years of service, we veterans move into a world that is new and often seen as challenging. How can we possibly apply our skills in a non-military world? It starts with examining what we veterans learn through our years of service and translating that into civilian language. Then it comes down to finding the right place to work.

Military skills that transfer

The first stage of moving into a civilian career is understanding what and how military skills transfer. Service members learn skills specific to their career field of choice. They receive specialized training and the tools to succeed. But all military careers typically include:

  • Learning and practicing leadership and management
  • Teaching, training, and mentoring others
  • Communicating internally and externally, formally and informally
  • Documenting, reporting, and writing
  • Emergency response, crisis management, and strategic planning
  • Problem solving using cutting edge technologies in aerospace, intelligence, information technology, weapons, and/or engineering

All these skills are applicable to any number of jobs you enter post-military. But perhaps more important are the critical thinking skills, mindset, discipline, and values you carry with you into the next phase of your career. When you join the military service, these and other tools are passed down from leaders and mentors, tools that have been honed over generations. Each has the potential to make you a stronger part of a team. Each has the potential to make you more adaptable when confronted with different demands and environments. Often veterans leave the service and can transition into a similar or even completely different role because of what they’ve learned in the military.

For those who are unsure how to translate military skills into language that makes sense in civilian life, the military offers assistance through the Veteran and Military Transition Center as well as online tools like the Military Occupation Code to Civilian Translator. These resources can help you with research, resume writing, interviewing, and other important parts of job transitioning.

Veterans as valued team members

Once you’ve moved through the first stage of your transition and understand the value you bring to the civilian market, you are ready to think about what you are looking for in an employer. Finding the right company to work for can be challenging to anyone, but many veterans find it especially so, believing the civilian world is too different from the one they are leaving behind. Or they worry that even if they have the right skills for the job, they will not be able to apply or grow them. Fortunately, these fears are unfounded when you find the right employment fit.

As a veteran employed at Octo, I quickly discovered that veterans are integral parts of our team. When veterans come on board as employees, they join teams who invest in them, their onboarding, and their future through mentoring, an open-door policy, and education. Our teams support veterans as they navigate the company, the government contracting environment, and the world of IT.

As veterans, many of us bring with us skill sets like information technology, cyber defense, and intelligence coupled with the experience and education gained during military service, making us integral and esteemed. Because of this, Octo often encourages input from veterans, who in some cases may have been end-users on applications and technologies that are being further developed in our workspaces. Veterans’ technical expertise is critical to the success of our teams and our company.

Whether they support defense, intelligence, health, finance, law enforcement, or some other government market, we veterans at Octo have direct impact on the customer and the public. We understand the worth of what we do. We continue to bring discipline and dedication to every task contributing to personal success and the success of our teammates.

During my time at Octo, I have felt both valuable and valued. I have been able to apply my skills in operations, training, technology, and intelligence. Octo has afforded me access to education benefits and on-the-job training and has given me the support to succeed in an organization where my knowledge and expertise are not only appreciated, but also sought and utilized. Octo also supports my personal growth and all employees’ growth vertically and horizontally, bolstering education through our internal Octo University, while encouraging us to seek education externally as well.

Culture matters

In finding the right career opportunity, culture is critical. One of Octo’s corporate values is “seva,” which means, “desire to serve.” This underlying current of service and missions first makes the culture at Octo feel familiar to veterans. Serving the public in a variety of capacities is what military life is all about, and it’s the same at Octo. This focus was important to me personally and professionally.

Octo also encourages volunteerism and is active in the community. We collaborate with veterans groups while constantly looking for ways to give back to our veteran community through recruiting, supporting military transition offices, sending holiday care packages to troops, and honoring veterans whenever possible.

These efforts couple well with the core values veterans adopt during their time serving, which makes joining a high performing team at Octo appealing. Working in an environment with those who hold similar values and invest in more than just business success is a win-win!

If you are a veteran transitioning to civilian life or a veteran seeking a new opportunity, I encourage you to learn about employment at Octo. You will discover why veterans choose to grow their career here and how you can continue to use your valuable skills while developing new ones in service to our nation. Visit our Careers page now.