During the first 14 years of my military career, I served in the U.S. Air Force as an Aerospace Control and Warning Systems, Weapons Director, which entailed controlling aircraft, aerial refueling, and close air support. For the latter portion of my career, I served the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) Operations Director as an engineer, designing and architecting the J3’s Common Operating Picture.
After dedicating 20 years of service to the Air Force, I was still uncertain of my follow-on career path as I approached the end of my military career. While I was anxious to rejoin my family, I wanted my next job to be as fulfilling as serving my country was.
About a year before retirement, I learned about the DoD SkillBridge Program from the Air Force Personnel Center. The program provides on-the-job training with a selected company during a service member’s last six months of service. The program allows service members to stay in the military and receive their pay and benefits while working at a civilian company. The program’s goal is to help service members seamlessly transition from the military into the civilian workforce and reduce the uncertainties many military members face when leaving the service.
When I reviewed the SkillBridge opportunities available, I was drawn to Novetta’s Mission Integration – Special Operations Forces Division’s fellowship and the opportunity to receive hands-on training from a Field Service Engineer. I was familiar with Novetta from working at JSOC. I respected their employees and mission, and the position was back home in North Carolina.
“The DoD SkillBridge Program allowed me to rejoin my family 3 months early while still on active duty.”
95% of Novetta’s fellowship was on-the-job training, including:
- Configuring and maintaining Linux Servers
- Familiarizing myself with the functionality of customer applications
- Testing new requirements on applications for warfighters
This real-world work experience provided me with great exposure and made sure the “shoe fit” before I committed to working at Novetta.
I also considered Novetta’s corporate culture. I admired how Novetta demonstrates its commitment to veterans and diversity. One-third of Novetta’s workforce has served in the military. Knowing I’d be working alongside a high number of like-minded veterans was comforting. Working at Novetta also meant I could continue to defend our nation, working on leading-edge technology supporting the warfighter.
Upon completing the fellowship, I accepted a full-time position as a Field Service Engineer at Fort Bragg, NC. In this position I train military and other government employees on Novetta’s Automated Information Discovery Environment (AIDE) suite, including ODIN, ARES, and MedCOP.
My Advice for Planning Your Military Exit
Invest the time to think about your military “afterlife.” Following these steps will set you up for success:
- Research SkillBridge programs offered by participating industry partners (including energy, information technology, manufacturing, retail, transportation, and civil service).
- Obtain written approval from your unit commander to participate. Mission requirements will dictate your eligibility.
- Contact your local SkillBridge program manager to ensure you check all the correct boxes and meet the necessary deadlines for this program.
- Take full advantage of the program (up to 6 months) and get a good idea of the company’s environment before committing to a new, full-time career.
The transition from the military to the civilian workforce can be challenging…but it doesn’t have to be. Novetta has open DoD SkillBridge opportunities. The company is always looking for dedicated and hardworking people to join its mission.