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Navigating your military to civilian career transition: Lesson 1- know thyself

Do you know what would make you happy in your civilian career? Do you know all your options?  What obstacles are in your way? Sandboxx has teamed...

Do you know what would make you happy in your civilian career?

Do you know all your options?  What obstacles are in your way?

Sandboxx has teamed up with our partners to help you smartly navigate your career transitions and avoid common pitfalls. Get helpful content, tailored for where you are in your military journey, each week in the Sandboxx app!

My Story of Transitioning

Helmand Province, 2013, and Brooklyn, 2014

My name is Patrick Weeks and I’m humbled to share my own story, and excellent resources to help with your military transition. It’s important to keep in mind there is no formulaic approach to guaranteed success. There are infinite ways to go about your transition. My goal is to simply share some best practices I have learned from my own journey and from those around me.

From 2009-2014, I served as a logistics officer in the Marine Corps. I loved the challenging environment and the camaraderie, but when my first child was born I felt a new calling. I decided to transition out of the Marines and focus on building a life with my new family.

Returning from Afghanistan to greet my wife and 1-year old, six months before transitioning out of the service.
Returning from Afghanistan to greet my wife and 1-year old, six months before transitioning out of the service.

I began applying for jobs while deployed in Afghanistan.  Optimistic and uninformed, I thought the transition to a civilian career would be simple and easy. I soon learned how difficult my transition would be. Having to conduct interviews via satellite phone half a world away was just the first of many obstacles. Luckily, mentors and a strong network provided me the resources and guidance to navigating my transition to civilian life.

My mentors counseled me that the moment you begin thinking about life after the military, you need to start by having an honest conversation with yourself.

know thyself auguste comte

What Makes You Tick?

In the first part in our weekly transition series, you’ll learn more about yourself and career fit from the points of view of personality, professions, others (through a 360-degree assessment), and yourself.

1. Personality and your career

It’s important to know yourself as a person beyond your military background. Your personality and interests are the components of yourself that you’re not leaving behind when you take off the uniform.

The 16 Personalities test is a simple, popular personality profile. Based on Carl Gustav Jung’s study of psychological traits (for example, introversion and extroversion) and the famous Myers-Briggs test, 16 Personalities covers the “Big Five” personality traits of individuals: mind, energy, nature, tactics, and identity. As one of the most popular personality quizzes online, with over 26 million tests taken, it’ll cover everything from your basic qualities to your romantic relationships to your workplace habits, strengths, and weaknesses. Find out your personality results and save your results!

16 Personalities Test
16 Personalities Test

2. Professional fit

Have you thought about becoming a veterinarian? How about a potter? Underwater basket-weaver? The Sokanu test just might connect you with careers you’ve never even heard of.

The Sokanu test

This in-depth, algorithmic assessment takes you through various career-oriented comparisons, gauging both your skill level and interest. Based on your history, workplace preferences, interests and even personality, presents you with insightful reports and career path suggestions. Find your workplace fit and save your results!

3. Get others’ perspective and advice with a 360-degree assessment

drill sergeants yelling at marine recruit

As “Reinventing You” author Dorie Clark explains, “A good way to start is by giving yourself a “Personal 360” interview. In a 360 review, the key people you work with — your boss, peers, subordinates and clients — provide anonymous, aggregated feedback about you and your performance.

By pulling together your own Personal 360 interview, where you talk with assorted people about your strengths and weaknesses, you’ll be able to begin leveraging your best talents for the next stage of your career.

These people are not only your best hope of receiving honest feedback, they’re the ones you’ll turn to for mentoring and (eventually) new business and referrals. It may seem like an imposition to reach out, but the truth is, it takes a village to reinvent yourself.” Get a more in depth overview here. Just do it and save your results. You won’t regret taking the plunge and asking your circle for advice

4. Take stock of your hard and soft skills

First, list all your hard skills and certifications. What objective qualifications could you highlight in a resume or interview that employers would value? Do you have quantifiable training? Accomplishments? Awards? Degrees? Leadership experience?

Second, list all your soft skills, strengths and talents. What defines you: how you work, how you lead? If the hard qualifications on your resume can get you an interview, these soft skills can get you the offer. Soft skills and subjective character qualities apply widely across industries.

By following the process above, you will think through personality and professional fit. You’ll gather others’ and your own view of your defining characteristics, and you will have distinguished hard and soft skills which objectively qualify you for positions.

Now what?

What are your current goals?

Consider how your current goals related to your civilian transition need to be clarified or revisited. What do you need and want? How can we help? Please let us know!

Stay tuned

Stay tuned to this series if you want to:

  • Develop your target career and fit
  • Learn skills such as interviewing, networking and salary negotiation to help you achieve your career transition goals
  • Be connected with civilian employers looking to hire Sandboxx veterans
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