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, SVP Global Supply Chain, 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 a few of our veteran employees on how the Program carves a path toward career success.

Rodney Dilts – AVP Cybersecurity

United States Air Force Veteran

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 – Professional Technology Security

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.”

Roberto Ramirez – Cybersecurity Consultant

United States Coast Guard

How was your fellowship experience at AT&T?

“My fellowship experience at AT&T was eye-opening and rewarding. As a former Information Security Manager in the Coast Guard, I experienced firsthand how cybersecurity is practiced in the corporate environment. As I navigated my transition, it was really beneficial to see how processes and procedures differ and relate between the commercial and military sectors. My manager and teammates here at AT&T made me feel welcome and went out of their way to show me the ropes to best prepare me for a possible role as a Cybersecurity Consultant.”

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

“After 25 years of relocating back and forth across the country to serve with different units and commands, working in cohesive teams to accomplish a mission and communicating clearly are some of the skills I was able to transfer and contribute to my team during my fellowship. Also, the ability to quickly adapt to changing environments is definitely a transferrable skill.”

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

“The DoD Skillbridge program allows transitioning service members the opportunity to connect with companies and corporations that they might not otherwise have. It offers an excellent firsthand experience of best practices and environments of commercial companies and enables service members to decide if it is the route they want to take post-military service. Additionally, the DoD SkillBridge program enables participating companies the ability to tap into the vast and unique backgrounds and experiences of those serving our country. It’s a win-win for everyone!”

Trevor Criss – Cybersecurity Associate

United States Air Force Veteran

How was your fellowship experience at AT&T?

“My fellowship experience with AT&T was great! The people I met and got to work with throughout this process were helpful. They wanted to put me in the best position to succeed within AT&T. It was beneficial to learn the different processes, perspectives, experiences, and job knowledge of so many members. Everyone was welcoming and really made me feel like I was part of the team.”

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

“Some of the soft skills that translated from the military to the fellowship were problem-solving, critical thinking, time management, and adaptability. With working in IT and Communications in the military, those skills translated well to the work being done with cybersecurity at our Security Operations Center here in Austin. You must be able to assess these issues that customers are facing and be able to come to the best possible resolution in a timely manner. Having worked in a relatable field definitely made the transition smoother!”

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

“The SkillBridge Program is an excellent way for any military member to set themselves up for success! A lot of members come up to their separation date unprepared or worried about what’s next for them. With this program, getting the chance to work with a company six months in advance, is a valuable experience whether you end up staying with the company or not. It makes the mental transition from military to civilian life a lot easier!”

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 about AT&T Military Fellowship Program Opportunities