We’ve all heard the expression, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” In a nutshell, the phrase means that culture, including structures, language and reputation take a long time to develop into something great. I think that this is an important expression for Veterans to remember when they are looking for employment. Just like Rome, great careers aren’t built in a day.
When I separated from the Navy in 2009, I landed at LAX from Jacksonville, with my sea bag, orders for terminal leave, and the confidence that my Veteran status would open doors for employment that would have otherwise been closed to a guy like me. I lived off of my savings from back-to-back-to-back deployments for a few months before I even considered looking for work. After a few months, when my savings started to diminish, I had to launchthe job search in earnest. Feeling desperate, I took employment as a shift supervisor for a private security company. The pay was not terrible, but the job was not something that I wanted to be doing for the rest of my life. My high expectations for my Veteran status being an easy start to success quickly deflated as I caught a glimpse of what would be a long voyage down a career path.
The word “path,” is defined by Encarta as: 1. A trodden track that has been worn by the continual passage of feet. 2. A route along which something moves. 3. A course of action or a way of living. These definitions are fitting, and may be the reason why we call them career paths, not career spots, career roads or career launch pads.
Veterans need to devise a plan to start on their career paths. At TAPS class they tell you to have a job lined up three months or more before you separate. While I recommend this as well, I don’t know how anyone can accomplish this task unless they already live in the community that they are separating to, or are pursuing contract work with the government in their chosen military occupation. Service members who are stationed a good distances from their post-military residence are going to have a harder time finding employment remotely.
My last duty station was Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. I could not line up employment in Los Angeles from Gitmo. It was only out of necessity that I became a security guard. It was a job that I didn’t want, but was lucky to have. I know now that I was more fortunate than many of my fellow Veterans who could not find work. But realizing that I wanted more out of my life, I devised a plan to start on my career path.
My career path beganby utilizing the Post-9/11 GI Bill. I still worked as a security guard while I finished school, and even for a while after I graduated. Now I have a great job at Military Connection, where I write for a living.
Other Veterans will have different career paths. Your path might take you to school, training, or at an entry level position. You might take jobs out of necessity, but remind yourself that they do not have to be permanent. Don’t get complacent, and don’t get comfortable. And don’t stop, but keep moving down your career path.