“Hire a Vet in Biotech” Informative for Vets & Employers

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By Debbie Gregory.

On November 12, 2013, the Ventura BioCenter hosted the “Hire a Vet in Biotech” event. A partnership between major biotech companies,  including Amgen, and local advocates for hiring Veterans, including MilitaryConnection.com, made the event possible.

The event presented the opportunity for attending Veteran job hunters to meet and network with biotech company representatives and Veteran supporters. Scheduled networking times at convention tables allowed attendees to meet with Amgen, the Ventura BioCenter, the University of Phoenix and the Veterans Affairs division of the California’s Employment Development Department (EDD). Attendees chatted over refreshments in hopes of making valuable career contacts.

The main events of the evening were two panels of guest speakers. The first panel consisted of representatives from the biotech community: Ted Bagley, Vietnam Veteran and Vice President of Human Resources for Amgen; Greg Cauchon, PhD, Director of the Ventura BioCenter and President of Amethyst Life Sciences, Inc.; and Ron Greenwood, Vietnam Veteran, CEO of Global Energy & Technology in Ventura, and co-founder of the Gold Coast Veterans Foundation. The panel members all expressed their support for Veterans.

“As a Veteran, I see today’s Veterans struggle to find opportunities,” said Bagley. “I want to help provide those opportunities.”

The panel concurred that when it comes to hiring Veterans, employers are getting experienced workers who know how to follow directions, processes and procedures. Employers should seek out Veterans. “We owe the current batch of military Veterans so much,” said Greenwood. “I challenge all employers to give Veterans a chance at an interview. You will be impressed.”

The panel also agreed that Vets are skilled workers in multiple areas, and need to be able to translate those skills into language that corporate employers can understand on a résumé and in an interview.  “Veterans have the ability to get things done,” said Cauchon.

The second panel consisted of Veteran advocates, including Military Connection CEO Debbie Gregory; Mike McManus, Veteran Services Officer, County of Ventura; and CJ Crosby from the University of Phoenix.  This panel recommended that the Veterans in attendance should not be too proud to apply for entry-level positions, and they should keep an open mind in regards to temporary jobs as a way to get a foot in the door and show employers what they can do.  “Put together a game plan for getting that job,” Ms. Gregory said. “This should include practicing interview skills, and making sure your résumé is current and error-free.”

Both panels agreed that Veterans should utilize their education benefits to help them pursue their career goals. Ms. Gregory addressed the employers present,  suggesting that hiring Veterans was in their best interest. “There are tax credits, beginning at $2,400, and going as high as $9,600, for employers who hire Vets.”

Ms. Gregory was referring to the “VOW to Hire Heroes Act,” which is a bipartisan, bicameral, comprehensive piece of legislation that is intended to lower the rate of unemployment among our nation’s veterans.

The event was mostly informative, with no résumés changing hands. But interested job hunters were told how they could apply for positions at Amgen, and what biotech companies are looking for, in terms of experience and education.