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 GettingHired 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.
Do you believe veterans and their families should have the right to build civilian careers free of obstacles and biases? Show your support and #Pledge4VetFamilies here.
Joining the military comes with its fair share of challenges, to be sure. But on the flipside of those challenges exists opportunity — just ask Eronica Dew.
Today a Virginia-based Proposal Manager at IBM, Dew says joining the military was a “game changer” that set her up for success in more ways than one.
“I did not have a college fund saved for me,” she explained. “In exchange for my 10 years of service in the military, my undergraduate and graduate degrees were paid for by the government.”
Beyond opening the door to higher education, Dew’s time in the military instilled in her a love of seeing new places (“I thank the military for giving me my first travel experience”), as well as the tools to be a more effective employee for a top company like IBM. Recently, she shared with Fairygodboss the biggest challenge she faced when transitioning to a civilian career and her No. 1 piece of advice to other job-seeking veterans.
Who: Eronica L. Dew
What: Proposal Manager with IBM
Where: Centreville, Virginia
How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
I’ve been working in Business Development & Strategy for six years. I have lead proposal deals for Lockheed Martin and IBM, winning multi-million-dollar contracts from the Federal Government.
What factors were most important to you in transitioning from a military to civilian job?
When I first left the military, I focused on finding employment related to the skills learned in the military. I later focused on careers that allowed me to use my business degree in human resource management and business administration.
Are there any challenges associated with that transition that people may not be aware of?
The biggest challenge I faced during my transition from the military to the civilian sector was translating my resume from military terminology to civilian vernacular for understanding.
What did your company do to help ease the transition, and how have you felt supported working here?
The first company I worked for after separating the military was a defense contractor that hired many veterans, so the transition was easier than working for a company unfamiliar with hiring prior service employees, who tend to be more direct in communications and require little to no supervision when completing required task.
Do you believe your military background has provided you with any unique perspectives or talents that aid your career today?
I firmly believe I am a better employee, as the military teaches installs “service over self,” focusing on attention to detail, and completing tasks quickly and efficiently.
Joining the military was a game changer in my life, as I did not have a college fund saved for me. In exchange for my 10 years of service in the military, my undergraduate and graduate degrees were paid for by the government. I consider the college education received without student loans was a fair trade for my time and sacrifice.
What’s the first (and/or last) thing you do at work every day?
The first and last thing I do at work is read and reply back to emails. It helps me keep on top of everything and plan for my next day.
What about outside of work — how do you most enjoy spending your time?
I have a travel fetish. I believe in having experiences over purchasing things, so I travel a lot. I just returned from a 10-day trip to London and Ghana. Seeing the world is my hobby and I thank the military for giving me my first travel experience.
What’s the one career move you’ve made that you’re most proud of?
I am most proud of moving from a supply technician in the military to a senior staff member working in business development that aids in job creation for the American people.
What’s your #1 piece of advice for women, and especially other women veterans, who are looking for jobs right now?
My number one piece of advice is to work with a professional to help develop a resume for the civilian sector.