Tips for a Smoother Transition

By Khris E. Cabanas

The transition from military to civilian life can feel like a grueling experience, but it doesn’t have to be if you plan it right ahead of time. My transition from the Army back in March of 2017 had its ups and downs, yet it all fell back on my preparation for transition out of the military. The ups came from prior planning, and the downs came from overlooking the small things that can make a huge difference in your life as you integrate back into the “civilian world”.  Here are a few tips that you can use to smooth out your transition.

1. Start Saving Money Now!

As soon as you set your mind that you are ready to start the next chapter in your life, you should start saving and cutting out unnecessary costs out of your budget. The beauty about the military is that in most cases, you know when your last day in the military is. Realistically you want at least 3 months of pay (on the low end) to cover your living costs depending on how long it takes you to jump into your next role. Personally, I didn’t have a new source of income for four months, so the money that I saved before leaving the military helped me and my family live comfortably before going back to work.

2. Deciding on Work or School?

Are you going back to school, or are you going straight into the workforce? Maybe both? Either choice, you may run into a couple of setbacks without proper planning. For me, I was stuck in between of which route to take, so I did both. However, during my transition I attended as many career fairs as possible to not only look for a job, but to see if I was even qualified to do the jobs that I was interested in. Yes, we gain and learn a lot of skills in the military, but some jobs do require a college education, certifications, or licensing. One thing that I did overlook was purchasing professional attire. Since I was so use to wearing a uniform every day, I overlooked buying professional attire for interviews, and career fairs. Again, it is the little things that can make a huge difference during your transition. I did all my shopping on Amazon to find my professional attire. I found some very great deals by doing my shopping there. You can check out where I bought my slacks here and my polos here. You can also sign up for NextOp Veterans services, so that you can be connected with an employment coordinator who may be able to help you on your decision to pursue work or school. Our experienced team have transitioned from the military, been on the job market, went back to college or managed to do both. You can sign up here.

3. Networking

Make sure that you are staying connected with your fellow service members who have transitioned before you since they can usually offer you great advice as well on making your transition much smoother. Make a LinkedIn account! If you are not on LinkedIn, then you are wrong. We live in a digital age where technology is prevailing, so you can either can get on the train or get left behind. It has been estimated that 70% of new hires came directly from referrals, or who you know. It may be a tough pill to swallow, but it is the truth. Remember, it isn’t always about networking to get a job. The connections you make with other professionals will help you along your professional journey in the workforce as well.

4. Be Resilient

Even with perfect planning setbacks will still arise that our out of your control. You need to be flexible and remember the resiliency skills that you learned in the military. I learned early on in my transition not to dwell on the things that I couldn’t change and to keep pushing towards my end goal of gaining employment. Everyone will hit a roadblock or two. However, it is how you get through those obstacles and continue to move toward your goals. Also, remember (if you are married with kids) your family is going through this transition with you as well. Include your spouse and kids on the decisions you are making. I overlooked this aspect of transitioning and forgot that my spouse and children were feeling some of the same feelings that I felt.

No matter where you are in your transition from the military, remember that you aren’t the first, nor the last to leave the military. You can do this! You set your mind on leaving the military, because you were ready for your NextOp. So, go out and do great things in your community, and show them the value that veterans bring to the table.