There’s a reason why transitioning from the military to a civilian career has been a roadblock for many veterans. The discipline, expectations, culture – everything changes, fast. Our own veteran employees are tackling these challenges by committing to community outreach and building organizations such as our AT&T Veterans Employee Group.

However, as much as things evolve, the right perspective can show how veteran skills can apply in a corporate career. Jason Porter, President – Public Sector & FirstNet at AT&T, said as much when it comes to transitioning veterans:

As you transition to civilian life, don’t forget that you have value immediately when you begin your career outside of the military. Never discount your strengths as a leader. Also, just like listening to a savvy Platoon Sergeant in the military, find and listen to the experts in your organization.

That’s why we work with the SkillBridge Fellowship Program, which matches civilian opportunities to a service member’s training and experience. It’s a program open to any rank, enlisted or officer, and we’re proud to welcome participants who can train within the last 180 days of their Service.

Hear from one of our veteran employees and a SkillBridge participant on how the Program carves a path toward career success.

Rodney Dilts – Director Cybersecurity

How important is it to have an opportunity like DoD SkillBridge?

“All businesses are different, but most are common in that they are not operated like a military environment. The leadership hierarchy functions differently, and the culture empowers employees to help expand the business. Therefore, transitioning from the rigor of the military work environment to the public sector can be very overwhelming.

“The SkillBridge Program allows participants to contribute in the spirit of learning the business without the stress of contributing as an employee. It’s less pressure for the participant and allows them to gradually progress and understand the new environment.”

How was your experience as a mentor?

“My experience has been outstanding. Military members bring high integrity and strong work ethics.  From day one, they’re eager to participate, learn and make the most of their experience.”

What advice would you share with leaders who are interested in onboarding a military fellow?

“Transition isn’t just about work. It’s about learning how to move from a strict environment to a more empowering work-life atmosphere. Working remotely, dress codes, meeting etiquette, HR policies, travel, promotions/progressions, and so on, are in many ways handled differently. Even flexible work hours are new.

“So, helping transitioning members focus on work culture is a big part of the program for them.”

Terry Ellington – United States Air Force Veteran

How was your fellowship experience at AT&T?

“My fellowship at AT&T allowed me to get a taste of working for a major corporation after having served exclusively in the military for over 25 years. I networked with people from many different sections of the company and learned about how the commercial world operates.”

What soft skills from the military did you transfer to your fellowship?

“The soft skills I acquired over the years enabled me to engage with people of every level, from interns to senior executives. Actively listening, paying attention, and demonstrating genuine interest in what a person is saying means a lot, regardless of status. The ability to communicate effectively and show a team player mentality is key to establishing oneself in any organization.”

What are some of the benefits of the DoD SkillBridge Program?

“Most importantly, the SkillBridge Program has shed a light on what to expect after retiring from the military. My tour was relatively short, 6 weeks. However, I had the opportunity to receive current and relevant training and experience from the company.

“Transitioning to a new career can be scary. This program helped ease my fears and introduced me to a non-threatening environment where I could explore options for my future. The most rewarding benefit to all of this for me, was discovering what “I want to do”, compared to what Uncle Sam needs me to do.”

How can one get involved with SkillBridge? Our veteran recruiters are actively supporting the organization – learn more about how one of our recruiters is currently collaborating with veteran employees and candidates to help them find their dream career. You can also visit the button below to learn more about our goals with SkillBridge.

Learn More at DoD SkillBridge Program