Whether you're active duty, long since discharged, in the process of being discharged, or simply going on IRR status, inevitably the question always comes up, "What do I do after this?" The transition from the service to civilian life is often a harsh one, and easy for a lot of vets to become downright lost with where to go next. The perception is often that you are transitioning from a place where hard work and perseverance is lauded, discipline is rewarded, and loyalty is respected....to a place where things are decidedly less so. In a lot of industries, and in today's society, that is unfortunately the case sometimes. That being said, don't let that make you disillusioned. There are still plenty of industries and professions where a high degree of morals, work ethic, and discipline are rewarded, encouraged, and absolutely needed. Financial services is one such industry. That might sound odd at first, but stick with us on this. Here are 3 big reasons you may want to consider looking at the financial services industry for a career:
Translating Military Service to Civilian Qualification
Someone 1-3 years away from transitioning, they have accumulated a significant amount of leadership experience. That is taken for granted but, they may be unsure how that's going to translate into the civilian world.
-Ted Digges, Captain, SC, USN (Ret.)
Executive Director, The American College Penn Mutual Center For Veterans Affairs
This is a BIG one. The U.S. Government and American taxpayers may have paid tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to train you during your career. Often this investment was in obtaining proficiency with MILLION dollar, high-tech equipment. Maybe you were a 19K, trained, proficient, and responsible for operating a nearly $10M M1 Abrams? How do you put THAT on a resume, and where do you even begin finding a job relevant to that?! Regardless of your current or former MOS, it is a difficult question that EVERY vet deals with. One of the most important things you can do is take a step back, and just break things down to their core fundamentals. Ask yourself questions like, "How is my experience relevant to...?":
- Performing, design and/or implementation of processes
- Managing a team
- Working with technology
- Quality control
- Working under pressure
You're going to find that you actually have a wealth of experience with a lot of fundamentals that will lead you to success. It might just take a little creative marketing-speak to connect the dots for hiring managers that may not understand how that experience relates. One reason you might consider looking at the financial services industry for a career and/or further education, is basically ALL of those fundamentals can translate very well. Financial services is an industry that demands precision, excellence, and accountability.
You Understand the Value of Discipline
In much of the private sector, it would seem that discipline is often a trait in decline. For you, since day 1 of Basic, it has been drilled into you. Things as simple as, "If you're not 15 minutes early, you're late", owning up to and learning from mistakes, or the classic incentive "You can get strong or get smart". 😉 A lot of civilians, unfortunately, go through much of their lives not learning that last priceless "lesson". Discipline in the financial sector is paramount, as you are often dealing with capital that is directly tied to the livelihood of countless individuals and businesses. Things to keep in mind when figuring out how to translate your experience with discipline and attention to detail:
- Action -> Effect -> Outcome
- Hiring managers are more receptive when they see past experience related like this
- Think about projects you've actively participated in, what effect your efforts had, and what was the overall outcome created for that project or operation
Ex: "Served as team leader during a time-sensitive logistics operation. Implemented X procedural improvement. Resulted in 20% reduction in operation time."
- Think of examples of past projects and operations. How was performance measured?
- Can you break that down into simple KPI's and/or simple metrics, then concisely explain how you tracked performance over time?
Resources & Assistance Available For Vets
In the financial services industry, there are quite a few resources, programs and institutions available to help veterans gain education in financial professions as well as to gain entry into the industry. For example, The American College Penn Mutual Center For Veterans Affairs has a number of scholarship programs available for vets as well as their spouses. In addition, the PMCVA has online courses available, which is extremely helpful if you're on PCS orders and things are a bit chaotic, or if you just have an inflexible schedule and need to play things by ear. The good news is, the skills you've developed from your time in the service are relevant, translatable, and in-demand in the financial services sector, so it's well worth your consideration.
Here are some other solid resources:
Some motivation: Success isn’t born. It is grown.