Transitions Lessons Learned With The Director Of Credentialing And SkillBridge, Boris Kun

Mr. Boris Kun directs the Department of Defense (DoD) Credentialing, SkillBridge, and US Military Apprenticeship Programs from the Office of the Secretary of Defense (Readiness) in support of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Readiness) and the Deputy Assistance Secretary of Defense (Force Education and Training). Mr. Kun is responsible for the oversight, development, and execution of the DoD-wide education, training, and credentialing IT reform and data analysis, credentialing, job skills training, and apprenticeship programs. He advises the highest levels of the DoD, the Executive Office of the President of the United States, and various Federal Departments in total workforce development and management. His office is located in the Pentagon, where he arrived with over a decade of experience in management, analysis, and workforce development.

Mr. Kun was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan (Formerly USSR). His family immigrated to Cleveland, Ohio in 1993. He enlisted into the United States Navy in 2007 where he was deployed and served overseas. Following this, Mr. Kun was selected for the Seaman to Admiral 21 commissioning program.

When you transitioned in November 2018 from the Navy what were you most afraid of during your transition? And how did you work through those fears?

I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to provide for my family and how my work experience, education, and assignments would transfer to the civilian sector. I attend TAP and decided to go the employment pathway and put out resumes. Ultimately, I was able to join the Force Education and Training Team at the Pentagon at USD(P&R).

What did you do well during your transition? 

Kept a positive attitude, networked extensively, and continued to be an active learner.

What did you do poorly during the transition and more importantly what did you learn from that failure?

I learned that I could never control external situations or decisions to include within my command. I continued to be too involved in the day-to-day of my unit’s mission and not look inward to focus on the transition that is a tremendous step in a veteran’s life.

What do you miss most about the Military? And do you stay connected to the military family?

I miss the comradery and unity at times from deployments and purpose from the daily routine and mission. I was fortunate enough to continue to be involved by working in Workforce and Credentialing at the Office of the Secretary for the DoD, responsible for the DoD credentialing program.

What advice would you give to someone who desires to work in Workforce Development & Credentialing?

Get as much experience as you can while you’re serving. Volunteer for the collateral duties and other working groups that are focused on strategy and execution.

What are your current efforts?

MilGears… Empowers career planning, decision making, and professional growth.

The MilGears platform aggregates military and civilian occupational and credentialing data into a centralized location for use in career exploration, talent management, retention, and to translate military and non-military training, education, and experience to civilian jobs and credentials.

Anything else you would like to say to a soon-to-be transitioning military member?

Be sure to take a look at what all DoD and your Service can offer to ease your transition. Look into SkillBridge, Credentialing, and United Services Military Apprenticeship Program (USMAP). Get as much education and credentials as you can before you get out. We’ve recently reduced the time and cost of degree & credential completion. It’s very affordable and it’s all waiting for you. Visit MilGears!!

I see that you are a Veteran Transition Mentor, Can you talk about some common mistakes that you frequently see in transitioning service members. 

Unfortunately, it’s all too common to see folks pursuing green grass without looking closely before they leap. And once you do that, it’s a little too late to recapture all of the advantages that can be taken before you separate.

You really need to take the time to see what your total DoD compensation package is, what it could be next including how to get there, and the actual cost of living in the area you plan to return to.  If you’ve been in the military a while, we can take things like no sale tax on base, housing allowances, health insurance, and other benefits for granted. Find the time to make an unemotional and objective look at what you’re about to do. I’m not saying you can’t get out, but I am saying that after you visit MilGears you may want to better prepare for that transition before you make it.

Tell me about your work at Office of Secretary of Defense and how that benefits service members and business leaders?

My daily effort includes directing the Department of Defense (DoD) Credentialing, SkillBridge, and US Military Apprenticeship Programs.  I am responsible for the oversight, development, and execution of the DoD-wide education, training, and credentialing IT reform and data analysis, credentialing job skills training, and apprenticeship programs.  Increase the ability of Servicemembers to have a more portable career in uniform and beyond.

Can you share a SkillBridge success story?

So many to isolate. Love seeing individuals taken control of their post-service careers through employment training that is available with our partners.  We have infantry and rifleman becoming IT professions to critical responders during COVID-19. Purposeful careers post purposeful service to our nation.

How did the Skillbridge program come about?

Congress authorized the program in 2012, with the program started taking shape across the force via the DoD Instruction at the start of 2014. In 2018, all the Service Departments began to allow their Service members to participate in the SkillBridge authority.

Who is the ideal candidate for the Skillbridge program?

Anybody that wants excellent industry-related employment training that is getting out after serving their Nation honorably.  SkillBridge is the conduit from job to job where you get paid to learn and have excellent employment opportunities.

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