I’m a Veteran and Mother Who Used My Unique Skills and Perseverance to Find My Professional Passion

Sponsored by Navy Federal Credit Union

Lisa Abuwi

Photo courtesy of Navy Federal Credit Union.

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Fairygodboss
April 17, 2024 at 11:2PM UTC

Transitioning from the military to a civilian job is not easy. “You are going to have moments when you wished you were still in the military,” notes Lisa Abuwi, a former Marine, who has dealt with this herself. At these moments, she recommends that you, “embrace your uniqueness of being a female military veteran and use it to your advantage at every opportunity you get; you earned it!” And, remember to have confidence in your own one-of-a-kind skills. As Abuwi puts it, “I accomplished something that most men couldn’t even fathom.”

Today, Abuwi embraces her unique skills and works as a Senior Research Strategist, under the Marketing and Communications department at Navy Federal Credit Union. A long-awaited goal she’s had during her 10 years with the company.

Navy Federal is a perfect fit for veterans like Abuwi who are transitioning into civilian roles. “Navy Federal’s culture shares the same values as the military,” explains Abuwi. “Having that connection to the military is why I love working for Navy Federal. They encourage pursuing higher education and offer a multitude of training courses to help you advance your career.”

Not only that, but, “Navy Federal’s new employee orientation program is also great because they have a session that helps those unfamiliar with the military understand what life is like for active-duty military members,” shares Abuwi. “Over my time at Navy Federal, I’ve witnessed the expansion and evolution of our military affairs programs. We now have programs like Skillbridge, a program run by the Department of Defense, specifically for transitioning service members, to gain new skills and work experience that really make a difference to the military community. Because of companies like Navy Federal, the program serves as a pathway for full-time experience.”

Curious to learn more about how Abuwi made the transition to civilian life and her best advice for her fellow veterans? Read on…

What was it like to transition from a military to civilian job? Did you face any challenges, and, if so, how did you overcome them?

I was 19 when I joined the Marine Corps, and, initially, returning to civilian life was very difficult. There were a couple of challenges that I encountered in a short time span before and after I left the military.

The first was having a MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) that did not translate into a civilian job. The military does a great job in helping you prepare for returning to civilian life; however, I found it difficult to find a job that I was interested in that didn’t require a college degree. I thought that employers would place a higher value on being in the military over a college degree, but that was not the case. I soon found myself questioning the decision to leave. I went into the military with the mindset of retiring after 20 years, but time passed, and I shifted my plan to leave after eight years. 

The second challenge that I encountered was when I found out I was pregnant about a month after I had left the military. I was working full-time as a security guard and attending school. I was fortunate enough to have a husband who was an active-duty Marine, so we decided that I would quit my job and focus solely on school until I gave birth to our daughter.

You ended up overcoming all of these challenges and finding a supportive culture at Navy Federal. How did you end up finding your passion at the company?

I was fortunate enough to find something that I was passionate about after several years at Navy Federal. I asked my mentor nine years ago what I needed to do to get to where they were (as a senior research strategist), and I followed their advice. I knew that my goal was going to require patience, and I stuck with it. My recent promotion was my long-awaited goal from nine years ago, so now it’s time for me to set a new career goal. 

For others hoping to take a similar path, I suggest finding a mentor and letting that person be your search engine.

Do you believe that your military background has provided you with any unique perspectives or talents that aid in your career today?

Absolutely. I was a member of Navy Federal Credit Union before becoming an employee. So, I understand the active-duty military member’s perspective when it comes to rating an experience with a specific product or service and am the go-to person when team members are trying to understand something involving active-duty military because of my military background.

What’s your #1 piece of advice for veterans, and especially other women veterans, who are looking for jobs right now?

It’s okay if you don’t find the exact job that you are looking for right away because it might end up being your passion.



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