It is my desire to review the results of my search for employment following my retirement from the army in 2014, and the subsequent completion of my bachelor’s degree in June 2018.
Upon retirement from the army, I faced the question many soldiers face when leaving the service: Now what? I joined the Army at 17 years old, and I never had any other job in my adult life. Sure, I was almost an adult when I enlisted, but I grew in the military. My father was also in the service, and it was familiar to me. I assimilated the warrior mindset and I loved it.
I had been all over the world and dined in some of the harshest and most hostile places on the planet. I trained soldiers, fought hard, and lost friends and brothers. With my time complete, I realized that my identity as a person was wrapped tightly in my profession as a soldier. I did not realize then exactly how hard it would be to reinvent myself after the army.
In August 2014, I started my first official college course. I say “first official” because I had accumulated 93 credit hours of college credit through the myriad of courses and training provided by the army. I transferred all of those over the my university, even though only 60 would be applied to a degree because of a policy of some sort. At the time, I was enrolled in a religion program, but halfway through my studies, I transitioned over to business. As I pushed through the business program, I was notified that I had too many courses on my record, and I would have to graduate with an interdisciplinary degree. I was approaching the max credit limit of 165, and I would be unable to enroll into any further undergraduate courses. So after three and half years of study, I graduated with a B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies with focus areas in Business and Religion. It is not the degree I wanted, and it reminded me of the movie “Van Wilder”, where the dude ended up graduating with a degree in Leisure Studies. Humorous, yes, and certainly not what I was going for.
Either way, I was done with the undergraduate degree, and I faced the next challenge of what to do with it. In June, I started searching for jobs. I attended a couple career fairs on a local military base, and the initial excitement I felt generated confidence that I would soon start my next career. The problem though, was that I had no idea what I wanted to be now that I was finally grown up.
It was easy to imagine returning to the nature of my job as an Infantryman in the army and pursue some sort of employment in the physical security field. To this point, I have submitted 7 applications for positions ranging from Security Guard to Personnel Security Supervisor. I deployed to Iraq twice as an Infantryman, and I figured that I would be able to leverage that and my three years as a Drill Sergeant to land a job in the security field. I have yet to land an interview for any of those positions. I did, however, receive notice that I made the first cut for a federal security position last month. I think with the looming shutdown, yet again, the hiring process may have frozen for the time being.
(As a note, I was offered two positions to do “infantry stuff” In Afghanistan as a contractor. The offered salary was nice, but I promised my wife I wouldn’t volunteer to go back and fight anymore.)
With security not panning out the way I had imagined, I changed tactics and marketed myself in another light, this time focused solely on my Drill Sergeant experience. I searched for jobs as a Training Manager and Instructor, and I found quite a few. I revamped my resume with the help of a resume class offered on the base, and I started applying to positions in and out of government having to do with training implementation and management. To date, I have received no interview offers for any of those positions.
During that time of rebranding, I wasn’t just focused on training management. I created resumes for sales positions, administrative assistant positions, executive assistant positions, various management positions, and even a resume for entry-level positions as a librarian. I snagged a number of interviews, but I was not offered any positions.
Now, at this point, some people may start to feel like there is something fundamentally un-hireable about themselves. Not me. I could see those thoughts forming in my mind, and I smashed that notion to pieces. I am asset to any place where I am employed, I just have to get hired!
As the year’s end approaches, I’ve slowed down my job search. I may pick it back up after the new year, but I have something more important to do before then. I have to find my passion.
I have to find that one thing that I really want to do. Something I would do no matter what the pay was like, or what the hours were like. I don’t know what that is yet. I know I would be great as a race car driver, an entrepreneur, an archaeologist, or even as a writer. I mention those things because they excite me. Heck, I’ve got extra time on my hands, I may run for president in 2020…
I’ve got to find my passion before I do something dumb!