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Brain Dump on Getting Out of the Army - Updated
I originally made this exact post around two years ago when I first started at my current employer. It may just be me but I feel like I’ve started to see more frequent posts about getting out of the Army lately so I figured I’d update my post and repost. For context, I was an active duty Officer. I did four years at Bragg in the lovely 82nd Airborne and got out as a CPT at the four year mark. I spent almost 70 days on terminal leave watching game of thrones and started as a management consulting Associate at a Big 4 firm (Deloitte, KPMG, PwC, EY) on my ETS date. I don’t have a beautiful Harvard MBA. I don’t have an amazing name brand undergrad. I understand that this advice may not be as applicable for everyone depending on what you want you to do. Some of this unsolicited advice is good for everyone but somethings are more specific to industries that are historically harder to break into (consulting, banking, etc.) I worked very hard at creating a seamless transition from the Army into corporate America and I learned a lot during the 12 months I focused on transitioning. I care about our Veterans and their success post-military should you decide to get out. I wanted to dump some of my thoughts here and things I’ve learned in the hopes I can help some of you. I am going to be very blunt because there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding getting out. I look forward to your shit talking in the comments.
First things first, preparing to transition is a 2nd full time job. You can save your “officers don’t do shit so no wonder you had so much time to focus on getting out” If you care, you’ll find the time. I promise I would have rather hung out with my kid and wife after work instead of studying interview questions, practicing my “story” and trolling through LinkedIn for potential contacts. A successful out will require a lot of work and effort and is taxing. Remember this, the Army doesn’t give a shit about you once you hit your final out. They may force you to go the dentist now and tell you your uniform looks like a bag of shit but once you hit terminal leave, all of that is over. It is your responsibility and your responsibility alone to ensure your success. The services provided by Army are not sufficient. I recently spent some time with the a very senior CSM out of TRADOC and we discussed this. He recently separated from the Army and attended the full ACAP program with the junior enlisted group and was not thrilled.
If you think for second your military experience is going to carry you into your next job and every company is going to want to hire you, gov or private, you’re more wrong. Listen, I appreciate your service. Your potential employer appreciates your service. They don’t appreciate it so much to hand you a job. Their interest is in the success of that business. If you are not value-added to the bottom line, you don’t get the job. I had an ACAP instructor that literally said “Fortune 500 companies want you because you’re a vet. They want to hire you. You just have to help them find your resume by posting it online.” THIS IS BULLSHIT AND NOT HOW IT WORKS (see next point). This is especially true for Officers and senior NCOs. No one gives a shit you are a CPT/MAJ/1SG/SGM. You are no better than an E-5 that is prepared and can smoke the shit out of an interview and network their ass off.
You need to develop a well thought out strategy of how you want to approach your post service employment. This should start nearly a year out. I started 12 months from my transition date. Your strategy should include: IDing your strengths and what you bring to the table. I’m really happy you can hump your 240 better than anyone else in your weapons squad. I am also very happy you can make stupidly complex OPORDs. If you don’t know how to properly articulate your skills, your resume will be shit, your interviewing will be shit, and most of all your success as a job searcher will be shit. ID your weaknesses and shortfalls. Best way to do this is to find live job postings that interest you and look at the requirements posted. What do you meet and what do you not? This is a great way to check and see if this is a realistic position to pursue. If you don’t meet a requirement, is it something that you can change? Project management certification? Sure, you can go get that. 15+ years experience at a hedge fund implementing forex arbitrage strategy? Probably not. Create a list of target employers. What companies interest you? Why do they interest you? Is it because they advertise that they have ping-pong tables in the break room (wrong reason) or is it because you are interested in their work and your skills and experiences translate well? (good reason). Your target employers will drive the next point and I personally think the most important point.
NETWORK continuously and constantly. I can’t say it enough. Networking is the single most vital point of your entire transition in securing post-service employment. This point is hard for a lot of people but if you care about what you’re going to do after the Army, get over it. For a lot of people networking is synonymous with slimy cold calls where you are interested in getting something for yourself and it is an awkward and uncomfortable process. It doesn’t have to be this way. Think of it this way. What do you think will result in a better outcome? Emailing someone you’ve never talked to 7 days before your final out asking for them pass along your resume because you like their company or does it sound better to email someone 12 months out from your transition because you are interested in learning more about their experiences and career field and this leads to a mentomentee relationship that develops over months’ time so THEY want to help you find a job. THEY are willing to reach out on your behalf. It is also a hell of a lot less awkward when you ask them to pass along your name because you have an established relationship. Asking someone to take actionable steps on your behalf is much easier if you have a relationship with the person. You all already do this but you may not even realize it. How often have you called a friend in another company, battalion or unit asking for a favor? “Hey can I borrow an LMTV, all our shit is deadlined.” “”Hey, I need 15x chutes on your airborne op on Tuesday to get some guys current.” Do you stop a random person at the Shoppette to ask these questions or do you call someone you know that for one reason or another, knows you and your reputation. Set up informational interviews, send out your resume to your contacts to be reviewed. Ask a civilian to take your resume into their workplace and have their coworkers highlight everything they don’t understand and then give it back so you know what military terminology you need to clarify or remove. Participate in LinkedIn groups for transitioning military. At one point, I had so many contacts at so many of my target companies, I had to use a spreadsheet to organize their contact information, the last time we talked, what we talked out, and when we were going to talk next. I would develop the relationships over long periods of time so when it came time for them to act on my behalf, it wasn’t an inappropriate request. I had created buy-in. They had a vested interest in my success and wanted to go out on a limb for me. Whether it was for some self-serving reason and they liked to feel better about themselves or they genuinely cared, it didn’t matter. They were helping me. I was leveraging that connection.
Lastly, utilize the resources available to you and veterans. I'm not going to explain them all but if you want more info, ask. LinkedIn, HireOurHeroes, American Corporate Partners, ACP AdvisorNet, Military MOJO, Veterans Mentor Network, FourBlock, company specific veteran hiring initiatives (GE, Goldman Sachs, Pepsi, Coke, Bank of America, Deloitte, etc).
I have friends, Officer and Enlisted, that have followed the same path and took the same steps that I did. I have Enlisted friends in Ivy League MBA programs, friends at Wharton, JPMorgan Chase, Deloitte, Goldman Sachs, Google, Facebook, big time consulting firms, engineering firms, etc. I also have friends both Officer and Enlisted that didn’t do shit to plan ahead and are feeling the burn. I’ll leave you with the best analogy I’ve heard about getting out of the military. In the Army, you don’t do anything of value without extensive preparation. The 3 shop kills themselves during the MDMP process refining the plan, the companies and platoons do rock drills, walk-through talk-throughs, PCCs and PCIs, comms checks, weapons checks, blah blah blah. That pattern of preparation and attention to executing a plan doesn’t change when you start to get out. You develop a strategy, target employers, networking contacts, you think through your answers to hundreds of interview questions, you rehearse your elevator pitch and your answer to “tell me about yourself”. Getting out of the Army isn’t the time to start slacking on preparation. I could ramble on about this topic forever but I won’t. If you have questions, shoot me a note. If you want to tell me to fuck off, I’ll lovingly accept that too. Edit: sounds like there is a lot of interest in consulting. I'd encourage you to check out Consulting to read people bitching about the industry the way everyone here bitches about the army, just with a tad more elitism.
From the famous TMC Bullpen leak, this is the one comment of substance that wasn't deleted for doxxing, so I figure it's safe enough to post as a separate entry. Darius JOHNSON (former CCP Sreegs) rants about CCP at length (8 September 2013): The conversation starts
(9:01:57 PM) darius_johnson: (8:53:29 PM) | ubastij: yeah that is a good point, though ccp does seem to prefer broad language for specific issues (9:02:05 PM) darius_johnson: I used broad language because I know what I'm doing (9:02:10 PM) darius_johnson: I"m pretty sure they're just morons
(9:09:59 PM) lockefox: oh, darius_johnson, I did mean to ask... there is a legitimate posting at CCP I was thinking of putting in for (data scientist). Terrible idea or terrible idea? (9:10:26 PM) ubastij: i applied to the multimedia designer position :smith: (9:10:36 PM) Angry Mustache: i thought they had dr. what's his face (9:10:40 PM) darius_johnson: up to you (9:10:43 PM) lockefox: Data team is expanding (9:10:54 PM) darius_johnson: honestly I don't know anyone at ccp who knows what they actually do there (9:11:02 PM) mynnna: eyjog seems to dual-hat as economist and head of the data team, yeah. (9:11:02 PM) darius_johnson: so maybe it's a great department (9:11:05 PM) lockefox: oh, then just like my job now :D (9:11:11 PM) ubastij: that works really well with me, i dont know what i do at my company (9:11:38 PM) darius_johnson: having a research department that works on one product and having nobody on that product having ever seen a deliverable for them is never a good thing
a bit later
(9:12:31 PM) darius_johnson: I have no idea what eyo does at CCP aside from talk to newspapers (9:12:43 PM) lockefox: Have my app all tied up in ribbons tonight.... was going to send it off tomorrow morning. Figured I have braindamage already (I do the work for fun/free already) (9:12:44 PM) darius_johnson: AWESOME (9:13:04 PM) lockefox: and it fits with my current experience professionally so my CL isn't: I <3 gamez! HIRE ME (9:13:28 PM) darius_johnson: Yeah if you want to live in Iceland go for it (9:13:31 PM) darius_johnson: they always seemed busy (9:13:51 PM) Angry Mustache: darius_johnson: botting is so bad on serenity that honest players can plex their accounts (9:14:04 PM) lockefox: if it's anything like my current data-human-centepeede job, I can understand why (9:14:27 PM) darius_johnson: Look I'm pretty sure Eyjo doesn't do a fucking thing at CCP I can't be more clear than that. (9:14:35 PM) darius_johnson: he certainly doesn't know anything about eve (9:14:47 PM) lockefox: figured that from his fanfest talks (9:14:47 PM) darius_johnson: So just keep that in mind (9:14:48 PM) mynnna: p sure you're wrong. (9:14:52 PM) mynnna: about not doing anything, anyway. (9:15:06 PM) ubastij: he gave some presentations at fanfest :colbert: (9:15:07 PM) mynnna: the development of you being wrong may be more recent than your leaving the company tho (9:15:16 PM) darius_johnson: If "sticking his fingers" into everything is "doing something" then ok. (9:15:22 PM) darius_johnson: But economically he was useless (9:15:25 PM) darius_johnson: see: forex (9:15:31 PM) darius_johnson: see: plex
couple of lines later, still about Dr.EyjoG
(9:16:18 PM) darius_johnson: mynnna: Maybe his guys got to work on stuff they wanted to do. He's really good at taking credit for things as well. (9:16:29 PM) mynnna: well why not (9:16:35 PM) mynnna: it works for the_mittani
much later to mynnna, when mynnna defends Dr.EyjoG again
(9:40:15 PM) darius_johnson: I was kind of close to this and MAY know a bit more than you about how CCP works (9:40:28 PM) Angry Mustache: mynnna: i think if you kept quiet, CCP would never notice (9:40:39 PM) darius_johnson: Every time the CSM's iin town Ejo struts around and preens (9:40:44 PM) darius_johnson: or there's a reporter about
(9:19:11 PM) darius_johnson: lockefox: You will be poor and Iceland blows (9:19:19 PM) darius_johnson: If you're married I honestly wouldn't do it (9:19:20 PM) lockefox: that's what I figured (9:19:24 PM) darius_johnson: It's for young people (9:19:36 PM) darius_johnson: There's a reason there's only like 1 American left at CCP (9:19:41 PM) darius_johnson: and very few foreignors (9:19:50 PM) ubastij: darius_johnson: were you in iceland or in the USA when you worked for CCP? (9:19:54 PM) darius_johnson: Iceland (9:20:02 PM) darius_johnson: and it was a terrible mistake (9:20:15 PM) darius_johnson: I mean there was a lot that was great about it (9:20:20 PM) Set's Chaos: I want to go to Iceland for Formula Offroad. (9:20:22 PM) ubastij: i've lived in "worst" countries so v0v (9:20:23 PM) darius_johnson: but nepotism is the culture
aside, on the same topic, later
(9:29:20 PM) darius_johnson: There's also only 2 managers at CCP who aren't icelandic!
aside, on the same topic, much later
(9:43:56 PM) darius_johnson: CCP has an english only policy as well (9:44:05 PM) darius_johnson: it's just gone lax (9:44:09 PM) ubastij: i'm just saying sometimes people don't realize its offputting (9:44:16 PM) ubastij: oh well then (9:44:18 PM) darius_johnson: Mainly because there's so few non icelanders left (9:44:20 PM) ubastij: yeah that sounds odd (9:44:34 PM) darius_johnson: when I got there ops was 75+% foreign (9:44:46 PM) darius_johnson: when I left there was one Canadian and he left like a week later (9:45:19 PM) darius_johnson: hard to have a policy like that in those cases
back to the main thread, later, about Soundwave leaving
(9:26:11 PM) darius_johnson: he hasn't left yet (9:26:17 PM) darius_johnson: it takes 3 months to leave a job in iceland (9:26:27 PM) Angry Mustache: what the fuck do you do in the meanwhile? (9:26:31 PM) Set's Chaos: Some kind of law, or just tradition? (9:26:35 PM) mynnna: like, [Seagull] sets the overall creative direction, but yeah [Soundwave] is lead designer or whatever. (9:26:36 PM) Angry Mustache: drink? (9:26:44 PM) darius_johnson: pretend to work while icelanders passive aggressively cockblock you until you just stop showing up
couple of lines later, still about Soundwave leaving
(9:27:06 PM) mynnna: i'unno, I'd like to hope that the "three months" thing means he continues to stick with things until winter is released. (9:27:22 PM) darius_johnson: CCP will not let that happen (9:27:41 PM) Angry Mustache: so he's marginalized between announcement and plane departing (9:27:49 PM) darius_johnson: I was (9:27:57 PM) darius_johnson: I have to presume it's teh same for everyone (9:28:43 PM) darius_johnson: they really don't take rejection well (9:28:48 PM) darius_johnson: and take every criticism personally
a bit later
(9:32:35 PM) lockefox: thank you for answering all the questions I had with your ranting :D (9:32:46 PM) darius_johnson: np (9:33:02 PM) darius_johnson: In retrospect I don't regret it honestly (9:33:03 PM) lockefox: it is actually helpful (9:33:10 PM) darius_johnson: but I think that has more to do with me than them
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