I served in the United States Marine Corps, ultimately separating from the military at the rank of E-4. Once I left the military, I struggled with finding employment. The military teaches you to adapt and overcome or seize the opportunity. I found that even though I could secure a position, that position was not necessarily right for me. With the help of Operation: Job Ready Veterans (OJRV), I have been able to find my passion, which is helping people. I enjoy helping my fellow veterans be successful and get the help they need.
The biggest problem a veteran will face when looking for a job after leaving the military is knowing where to look for a job. Even though the obvious answer is the internet, there is a big difference in looking for a new occupation in the military and looking for a new civilian career. Technology and resources change all the time. When preparing to leave the military, it’s important for a veteran to know where to go for help and assistance for a smooth transition.
OJRV allowed me to become better prepared during interviews. I will admit, my confidence was not stable after several failed attempts to secure employment. I honestly thought my interviewing skills were top-notch and that employers were crazy not to hire me. Reality hit me when I couldn’t even answer questions that were in and of themselves easy to answer. OJRV gave me my confidence back. The staff helped me to get humble real fast and to study for the interview.
After a long two-and-a-half-year struggle trying to find the right employment, I am happy to say I am employed with the Veterans Benefit Administration. I am able to help veterans receive the compensation they have earned, and it’s very rewarding at the same time. Now, I have the position I wanted, and I am very happy. I enjoy helping people—and what better group of individuals to help than my fellow veterans?
If I were to sum up my military transition experience and give advice to other transitioning veterans, I would say this: Never give up because quitting is not an option!
- Michael T. Austin