Veterans and those who love them make no shortage of sacrifices on behalf of this country. But one sacrifice that’s perhaps not as readily acknowledged is the obstacles both veterans and military spouses can face when building out their careers in the civilian realm. This Veteran’s Day, Fairygodboss and Getting Hired asked folks in the veteran and military family community to share the ways this identity has aided and at times impeded them professionally, as well as their No. 1 pieces of advice to fellow military community jobseekers.
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When you hear the words “veteran” or “reserve duty,” the image many of us are likely to conjure is that of someone in uniform. But for many people with military experience, this image — though undoubtedly a source of pride — may make for an incomplete picture.
For those transitioning from military careers into civilian ones, their professional identities are expanding to encompass an array of attributes and skill sets that may be more nuanced than the average worker’s. But whatever a veteran’s chosen career path may be, having a military background informs and gives them that much more of an advantage in their new undertaking. That’s what Marleachia McJunkins believes.
A U.S. Army Reservist, MBA candidate, and Associate Financial Service Professional at Charles Schwab, McJunkins was surprised to discover just how much her military experience has aided her as she builds a financial services career. Recently, she shared with Fairygodboss what the transition from the military to the civilian sector has looked like, and which career move has made her most proud.
Who: Marleachia McJunkins
Where: Dallas, Texas
What: Associate Financial Service Professional, Charles Schwab
How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
I have been with Schwab for one year and two months. Before working at Schwab, I worked as an Assistant Store Manager.
What factors were most important to you in transitioning from a military to civilian job? Are there any challenges associated with that transition that people may not be aware of?
When I transitioned from the military to a civilian job, the most important thing was that my civilian job understood I am still actively serving in the U.S. Army Reserve. As a reservist, it requires me to work one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer to fulfill my military obligation.
During drill on the weekends our days can start at 7AM and run until 7 or 8PM. Schwab has made it easy for me to communicate that I cannot be at work during these drills since I normally work Sundays. Compared to other places that I’ve worked, it has been easy and smooth sailing for me to work with management to step away to perform my duties. I’ve listened to peers in my unit, where they’ve expressed that their employer’s give them a hard time when they need to step away. I’m so thankful, and grateful that Schwab has not hassled me about taking time. We have a hard week leading into drill weekend and for my job to be so understanding of my needs it’s just been great. I really do appreciate it.
What did your company do to help ease the transition, and how have you felt supported working here?
Schwab has a Military Veterans Network (MVN) that allows military service members to network and provide each other with important information, as well as share our experience of being in the military and working for Schwab. Within my first week at Schwab someone invited me to a call for MVN and it was filled with information about helpful resources that we could use to make my transition into my corporate career here at Schwab go smoothly. The network here is so helpful. We actually have a place online that allows MVN members from all our locations chat online so that we can share knowledge nationally.
Later on, my manager actually connected me with the local chair for MVN so that I could feel more ingrained in the Schwab culture and have a resource that could help answer any questions that were outside of his wheelhouse. That was his way of making sure that he was actively assisting me when it comes to my transition.
You know, as far as career wise, at other companies because you may be away from your job often it can affect your civilian life- that’s what we like to call it- and for me, at Schwab, that hasn’t been the case. I feel like I have the same access to opportunity as anyone else. My manager still helps me have the same career building experience even though I may have to take leave or adjust my schedule due to military leave. I like the fact that although I may be away my career opportunities and experience here have not changed. For instance, when I left in June and came back it was as if nothing had changed-except me having to change my passwords- but it was as if I wasn’t gone. I like that.
Do you believe your military background has provided you with any unique perspectives or talents that aid your career today?
Yes, I do believe that the skills the military taught me have been beneficial to me being successful in my civilian career. The ability to be disciplined and diverse has assisted me in being a great financial service professional at Schwab.
The military helps you to assess situations quickly and calmly before you act. Being disciplined in that manner really helps when I’m in the office with a client. Clients come with a lot of different questions but I like to dig into the details quickly to figure out the best way to assist them. Also in learning more about financial services it has helped me to see the gaps in financial literacy for people of diverse and military backgrounds. That helped me to identify my passion because I really enjoy going into the details with people to better educate them on their finances.
What’s the first (and/or last) thing you do at work every day?
The first thing I do is make sure my desk is organized; I enjoy working in an organized space. The last thing I do is to make sure I have closed out any loose ends pertaining to clients’ accounts, i.e. making sure I have not forgotten to place call backs or any other follow-up assignments with other departments.
I find that follow up is extremely important to building client relationships. I had a client that was worried about a large check reaching his sons, and I put in a request with our Money Moves team to help him find it. It took a day but I was able to check this client off my list the next day by calling him back with insight on how the check was deposited with his sons. He said, “People say they’ll call you back but they don’t do it. Thank you, it means a lot.” My routine is worth finishing my day like that.
What about outside of work — how do you most enjoy spending your time?
Outside of work, I enjoy spending time practicing yoga, reading, and occasionally running 5ks. I’m also a bit of a fashionista; I play around with designing clothes in my spare time.
What’s the one career move you’ve made that you’re most proud of?
The one career move I am most proud of would have to be making the decision to move to Texas for the job at Schwab. I was looking for a change of pace and I considered big corporations that I knew with strong reputations. I grew up in the Bay Area where Schwab is a big name. I was familiar with the brand so I decided to apply and received a call from someone from the Talent Acquisition team. At the time I wasn’t stationed in Texas but still felt that I should have the conversation to hear more about opportunities. The recruiter worked with me allowing me to virtually interview and after that everything fell into place. It was meant to be. Transitioning into the finance industry has been the best decision of my life — I absolutely love it. I have learned so much about finance in a relatively short period of time.
What’s your number one piece of advice for women, and especially other women veterans, who are looking for jobs right now?
The best advice I can provide would be to never give up, and always push and fight for the career you want. Your peers and leadership team will see your hard work. Many companies are willing to help veterans and seek to hire vets.
Content sponsored by Charles Schwab & Co. Charles Schwab & Co. is not affiliated with Fairygodboss. (1118-8PZT)