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Pursuing the Dream Job: A Veteran's Perspective

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Active Military
Active Military
June 14, 2017
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“They’re formed up and all yours, sir,” the platoon sergeant said as I stood by in the battalion headquarters office. This was the moment I had waited for since becoming a Marine Officer. I was about to address Alpha Company, 3rd Platoon for the first time as their platoon commander. As I walked over and stood in front of them, I already knew I was about to embark on the most rewarding and transformational experience in my life. “Hey Marines, I am Lieutenant Call and here is what you can expect of me….”Why was this my dream job?Pride: Leading Marines is a privilege that must be earned in the Marine Corps. Let me repeat that…it is PRIVILEGE that must be EARNED. The true greatness of the Marine Corps lies not in its warfighting capabilities or its Espirit de Corps but in the training of its leaders. I earned the privilege of leading Marines through total commitment of body and mind to my training. For eighteen months, I lived the life that my future Marines live while simultaneously being instructed on how to lead them. I walked in their boots. This training developed more than a skill set. It developed a sense of pride and confidence as well as an enormous respect for the Marines that I would be leading. Consequently, when I finally earned the privilege to lead, I was honored and extremely prepared for my mission.Purpose: My mission was the other critical component that made leading Marines so special. As Marines, we are taught Mission First, Marine Welfare Second. This is not degradation on the importance of an individual Marine but an emphasis on the importance of our mission. My mission was to train Marines to destroy our nation’s enemies and defend our country. That mission took my Marines and me to the desert and the mountains of Africa and Afghanistan. Together, we hiked more miles and carried more weight than I could ever count. The magnitude of the mission was never lost on me and it was the first thing on my mind every morning when I woke. This mission-driven mindset brought tremendous purpose to my life, a purpose that I had never felt before.

Why was this a challenge to my transition?

The purpose of this post is not to promote the benefits of military service. There has been plenty of content written about that. My purpose is to speak to those men and women that served, loved their service and asked themselves “I already had my dream job. What the hell am I going to do now?” I know I struggled with that question. Almost immediately after leaving the Marine Corps, I began to struggle to find task significance in anything I did professionally. I felt a general lack of purpose and a diminishing sense of pride. I was still doing great work and my employers were thrilled but a growing frustration began to build in me. This was the critical point of my transition and my post-military professional life. What kind of veteran would I be? Would my service empower my future or would my service hinder it?

How does my service empower my future?

  1. Staying Mission-Driven – I refuse to let purpose leave my professional life after the military. Fight hard to keep it! Develop a mission statement for yourself. My mission is to “develop technology solutions in order to improve the lives of the military community”. I’ve fought hard for that mission for the last three years and it ultimately led me to my current position at LinkedIn.
  2. Knowing Your Weaknesses and Seeking Self-Improvement – “Complacency Kills”…it’s no different when you transition. Keep pushing yourself and hold the standard. Seek self-improvement and build new skills. This will ensure that you keep that pride you felt while serving. I wanted to become an entrepreneur so I read everything I could get my hands on about start-ups, Steve Jobs and Silicon Valley and reached out to as many entrepreneurs as possible. I soon took pride in becoming a “vetrepreneur”.
  3. Finding Civilian Mentors – Mentorship is a huge part of the military. Whether it was your squad leader, team leader or battalion commander, you were being mentored on almost a daily basis and you were better for it. Once you set foot outside the military, this support system disappears. It is YOUR responsibility to rebuild it. And take a chance on some civilian mentors. Their perspectives will be essential to your development. It took me a little time but I began to develop a new support system of civilian mentors that cared just as much about my future as my military mentors did.

Even though I have already had my dream job, by staying focused on those three lessons from service, I still wake up every morning motivated and committed to making a difference. Maybe my story will resonate with you. If not, I hope you have utilized your own set of lessons to empower yourself. But we, as a veteran community, are not victims of our service. Yes, we do struggle sometimes. And yes, we do need guidance sometimes. But, because of our service, we hold the keys to our own success. And we know that better than anyone.

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