We hear it all the time, Folk Wisdom about the military transition process. Your buddy may tell you one thing, your Chief may tell you something else, all the while the instructor at Transition Assistance class tells you something different. With Military-Transition.org Brian Niswander hopes to make that a thing of the past. Brian and his team cut through all that noise and only provides well researched data-driven-solutions information on his site. His passion for helping veterans make a successful transition comes across loud and clear. If you are preparing for an upcoming transition and are interested in well researched data read below and then head over to Military-Transition.org
Q: Tell us about your transition from active duty:
After six years on active duty is an Air Force intelligence officer, I made the difficult decision to depart the familiar environment of the military and transition into the unknown world of Corporate America. I didn’t have many contacts outside of the military, so I utilized the services of a recruiting firm which helped bring structure to a confusing and often stressful process. Our post-military journey started in Cincinnati where I began working for a global consumer goods company in the market research field. I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity which built upon my existing skills and taught me how to collect and analyze consumer and market information. Much like military intelligence, the ultimate goal in this role was to influence decision making through critical analysis. I also had the opportunity to working with fellow veterans in this role and learn more about the military-to-civilian transition process while recruiting members from all branches into corporate roles.
Q: What is transition intelligence and where did the idea come from:
The ultimate goal of the intelligence process, whether in the military or business, is to understand the present environment and inform decision making through analysis. As a market research or business intelligence professional, it was my job to collect information about consumers through surveys and focus groups and then analyze this to inform decisions. In short, I provided decision-quality information which reduced uncertainty, informed business decisions and ultimately helped increased profits. This led to the realization that service members didn’t have a source of information that could be aligned with their individual or family situation to inform transition related decisions. The combination of broad metric data and a searchable database of transition related comments became the basis for transition intelligence.
Q: What have you learned from the research so far:
Here are a few of the most important lessons from our research and several additional highlights to help service member prepare for a future transition out of uniform and into the civilian workforce:
Start Preparing Early: you should always be thinking about life after the military and I recommend starting your preparation at least 24-months before the transition. You should attend transition assistance (TAP) at this point and again when you have between 9-12 months. Pay attend, take notes, ask questions and go a second time because those who attended more than once were 57% more likely to say the program was “extremely” or “very” helpful.
Have a Transition Plan: it doesn’t have to be complex, but you should have a written plan with timelines. You need to learn about the civilian workforce, schools and training programs available to you. Think about what interests you and what doesn’t, where you and your family might enjoy living, and start engaging with those who’ve already transitioned out of uniform along with others who can serve as mentors.
Build Your Network: this is an important but overlooked aspect of a successful transition. Speak with others, both in and out of uniform, and ask about their experiences. Use social media (LinkedIn) to identify potential contacts and then reach-out. Offer to share your story and remember to pay it back and help other service members once you’ve entered the workforce.
Learn to Translate Your Skills: this can be a challenge and requires time, effort, and practice. I recommend that you combine with networking and get feedback from others. Successfully translating your skills results in a strong resume, good interviewing skills, and the ability to demonstrate how you fit and add value within a civilian organization.
Be Patient: the process doesn’t happen overnight so give yourself time and learn along the way.
We also discovered that service members were searching for a ‘one-stop-shop’ for transition resources, so we consolidated more than 225 links to single webpage: https://www.military-transition.org/resources.html
Q: What advice would you give to anyone considering their future transition:
The most important advice I would offer service members is to start thinking about life after the military on the day they join! This simple piece of advice comes after speaking with and surveying thousands of current and former military members. The reason is because decisions make while serving will have a significant impact on your post-military options, marketability and lifestyle. Over the past decade, I’ve heard countless members describe the transition process as if they were “crossing into the unknown.” The sooner you start to think about life after the military, the quicker you’ll begin to reduce the unknown and make decisions that are good for both your military and follow-on civilian career. Don’t wait until the last 6-months to begin thinking and planning for what’s next.
Q: How can service members and families get more information about your research and transition resources:
The materials and insights we provide regarding the transition and employment process are available (free-of-charge) on our website (https://www.military-transition.org). Of course, we continue to gather and analyze information to share with the military and veteran community. At present, we’re looking for both active duty and guard/reserve members to participate in an ongoing study about their experiences. Please take 10-minutes and provide your thoughts online and pay-it-forward. Participation is completely anonymous and results will be shared to help the next generation of service members. https://www.military-transition.org/participate.html
Brian Niswander is the Founder of Military-Transition.org, an organization that uses data analytics and visualizations to assist military members with their transition into the civilian workforce. He started Military-Transition.org after identifying a need for data-driven-solutions which inform and guide veteran decision making during the reintegration process. His organization also shares data and visualizations to assist military spouses with employment challenges.
Brian was an Air Force intelligence officer and he now provides ‘transition intelligence’ to educate military families. His work has been featured in numerous publications along with radio and podcast interviews. His background includes analytic and leadership positions within the consumer goods industry along with management, strategic planning and marketing in public and private organizations. Brian has an M.B.A. from the University of Notre Dame and a B.S. in Behavioral Science/Human Factors Engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy.
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