Do you consider yourself a creative professional? Service members are often known for their rigidity, but those who have served in uniform know ingenuity is just as important as the ability to follow orders. Service members aren’t intimidated by situations that would cause most others to cut and run. But fear and intimidation often plays out when service members leave the military and embark on a job search – sometimes without knowing what career path or job they should pursue.
I recently attended a military transition conference in Fayetteville, N.C. The Project Management Institute (PMI) Metrolina Chapter and Program Management Professionals (PMPs), Richard Sabedra and Nealand Lewis organized the event. We had a few hours together over the weekend to talk about personal goals and objectives. Nealand informed me of his current work on a dissertation regarding intimidation and creativity.
Nealand spoke about how these diametrically opposed behaviors can impede those desiring careers or professions in fields such as music, art, or sports. His concept resonated as I considered military service members and transition. Intimidation may be keeping service members from the inspiration and creativity needed to consider a successful life after the military.
Some military personnel already know what they are going to do professionally after the military. However, there are many service members who have not given transition much thought. Some have not taken time to think about their life after the military. Lacking a post-military career destination is intimidating. For some, this intimidation is based on fear of the unknown. These reservations are often due to lack of transitional knowledge; including selection of a commercial career field, putting together resumes, cover letters, professional branding and/or surviving the interview.
When a lack of information or understanding is blocking the path, creativity is inhibited. Transitioning service members may be so fixated on the “next steps” that they fail to look at the big picture. In other words, military transition becomes so intimidating that procrastination rules the day. Some fall victim of focusing on the “way” and not on the “what”. This is dangerous, as some may find themselves in a job or career field that is not well-suited to their strengths.
Reducing Military Transition Intimidation
What if you are in a similar situation? How do you reduce your transition intimidation? First, start a personal self-awareness and education program. Read books on various career fields of interest, such as IT, project management, logistics or cybersecurity. In the end, you may not select any of these fields. But by studying various occupations, you will begin to eliminate undesirable professions or displeasing work.
If you are significantly intimidated and have no idea what career field to pursue, try reading books like Dick Bolles’ What Color is Your Parachute? or The Transitioning Combat Arms Professional. Both of these books provide practical information for job hunters and career changers.
Once you have begun self-education, seek out professionals in the commercial career field you are leaning toward. How? Join a professional networking group such as PMI, Toastmasters, Rotary, Optimists or Business Networking International (BNI). Here you find civilians who are interested in helping you make your transition. You might even find a mentor.
These first few initial steps will assist in reducing any intimidation or vacillation, enable your creativity and motivation, and initiate your post-military career journey.
Wishing you a lucrative and inspirational transition!
~ Jay Hicks