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November 18, 2020

My career post-military | Thriving in a civilian job

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After intense physical, mental and emotional training, and having gained unique experiences and a diverse skill set, ex-military personnel are valuable employees to any organization. However, for those yet to make the transition, applying for a civilian job can be a daunting prospect.

Thankfully, ex-military personnel like Kelly Fisher and Zoua Davis have paved the way and are happy to share their post-military experience so far. From the core values and skills you have helped them so far to the ways their employers support post-military personnel in the workplace, their answers are valuable intel for those currently considering a civilian career.

How do some of the core values of military personnel, such as integrity, courage, determination, and excellence, help you in your civilian job?

Kelley Fisher | Guest Services Manager, Brown-Forman: The Marine Corps was a constant lesson in leadership. Some of the core leadership principles of the Marine Corps include endurance, initiative, enthusiasm and dependability. As a platoon commander and now as the Guest Services Manager of Old Forester Distilling Co., it is important I bring these qualities with me to work each day. I feel to be an effective leader, leaders need to set the example through words and actions. Leaders set the tone for their teams. If I don’t bring enthusiasm, energy endurance to work, how can I expect that of the team?

Did your time in the service provide you with any formal or informal training that has helped you adjust to a post-military career?

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Zoua Davis | Principal Planning & Scheduling, BHP: Born and raised in California, I never stepped foot out of San Diego until I joined the military. Before I arrived at my permanent base, I was sent to several locations in Texas for basic and technical training. During my four years at my base, Minot, North Dakota, I travelled to Canada and several deployment locations outside of the U.S. I credit the military for expanding my horizons — not only exposing me to travel outside of my hometown but for introducing me to cultures outside my norm. In the Energy industry, my job can require travel and working with people from different backgrounds. The military started me on this journey and today I seek out these opportunities and look forward to working with people from different cultures and experiences. Each provides a new opportunity for growth and understanding.

I love that there is respect, events and support for every group of people. BHP goes above and beyond when it comes to their employees. I am proud to work for a company that makes me feel like they truly care and value me as an individual and not just my work.

What’s the most important transferable skill you’ve brought from your military career to your civilian job?

Kelley Fisher | Guest Services Manager, Brown-Forman: During my time in the Marine Corps, I experienced many situations that tested me mentally, physically, and emotionally. While I may have been feeling the stress of the environment, as a platoon commander and as leader of Marines, it was important I remained poised and under pressure, communicated effectively and directly, and maintained a sense of humor. Whether working with a group of Marines on an exercise or now, helping to facilitate guests through a tourist attraction, these skills are transferable and help to build high-functioning and successful teams.

And finally, what advice would you give to organizations looking to develop their support for ex-military colleagues?

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Zoua Davis | Principal Planning & Scheduling, BHP: BHP is one of the first companies I’ve worked for that recognizes and encourages veteran employees to celebrate their service. Sure, I’ve received a lot of “thank you for your service” from co-workers at each company I’ve worked at post military, but have never been recognized by the company itself until my experience at BHP.

Every year since I joined the company in 2013, I’ve volunteered at the Houston Rodeo during Armed Forces Appreciation day. As a sponsor of the Rodeo, BHP opens the volunteer opportunity to BHP veterans first before the rest of their employees. I am thankful that the company encourages me to donate this work day to help my former colleagues enjoy the Rodeo with their family. It’s also my chance to give back and say “thank you for your service because I know the sacrifices you go through”.

In addition to this, BHP also has a ‘BHP Veteran Military and Families Group’ on their Yammer (networking) site. Veterans such as myself are able to communicate with other veterans at BHP locations throughout the world. We share ideas and are able to talk about similar experiences from our military career and/or current career. Knowing I have colleagues that understand my military background makes me feel at home. It’s always nice to be understood.

Ready to kick-start your new career and find a civilian job?

You can find a range of career opportunities with the employers featured in the article and more Endorsed Employers on our WORK180 job board.

On the WORK180 job board, it’s the employers who need to impress. To post on our platform, they must share their benefits and policies, and also prove their commitment to diversity, inclusion, and gender equality. And like you, we have high standards — only 80% of companies meet our criteria to become an Endorsed Employer.

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Looking for a new opportunity?

Our transparent job board only has vacancies from employers we endorse and lets you see what benefits, policies and perks come with the job.