Veteran Allis Gilbert searched for a job for six months in Oklahoma after being discharged from the Army. The frustrating search ended in a perfect match for her and her employer when she applied at Colorado State University, where she felt welcomed and believes the skills she gained while in the service are are valued.
Gilbert worked as a medical services officer in the Middle East, managing about 125 medics in a brigade and as a member of a management team in a military hospital. Today, she manages operations at the CSU Health Network student clinic, a position she finds to be “extremely fulfilling and validating.”
Colorado State University, deemed “military-friendly” by GI Jobs Magazine, is known for its efforts to supporting veterans with earning a college degree. Yet, many veterans experience frustration when trying to find employment after they graduate from college, and some struggle against a perception that veterans are “broken.”
“Veterans bring a set of skills to an employer that they may not find in other recent college graduates – and potentially not in more seasoned employees, either,” said Jenny Pickett, director of CSU’s Adult Learners and Veterans Service office. “Because of the nature of their experiences, they often are more nimble and creative when solving problems.”
Gilbert says that veterans “know what right looks like” when a task needs to get done, and that they can succeed on very little guidance. They also are extremely loyal and disciplined in the workplace, and they are selflessly dedicated.
“I think being in the military is character building. You know, as an employee, how to function when you are pressed to your limits. Because of my experiences in the military, I know that I am capable of solving problems and figuring out how to get things done,” said Gilbert who was faced with finding ways to evacuate wounded soldiers from dangerous areas when travel wasn’t allowed.
“Anyone who is a military veteran has had an opportunity to lead others,” said Virginia Mack, a former Navy nurse who also works in CSU’s Health Network. “They also have the ability to adapt to a number of different settings. You learn to rise to the challenge and to take on tasks you maybe wouldn’t typically do, and then you find you can do it. It gives veterans a sense of calm and confidence. We know where we’ve been and we are proud of what we’ve done.”
Gilbert and Mack also say that working on a campus with many veterans who are students helped them build a sense of camaraderie and also gives veteran students someone they can relate to.
“CSU has countless opportunities for veterans to meet with people, reach out and engage in resources,” Mack said.
As part of its commitment to helping veterans succeed after college, CSU’s Adult Learner and Veteran’s Service office recently added a representative from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment to help veterans prepare for job interviews, identify career paths, prepare resumes and identify potential employers. This unique arrangement provides veterans with help in transitioning their military experience into the civilian world in a way that will resonate with employers.
Gilbert, Mack and Colorado State University’s Adult Learner and Veterans Services Office offer these top six reasons to hire a military veteran:
- Leadership. Military veterans have had the opportunity to be responsible for projects, people or equipment and lead others, including giving detailed and thoughtful instructions, motivating others, solving problems to keep a team on task, following through with plans and accepting responsibility.
- Ability to work with others. Veterans have experience in working with people from all backgrounds and demographics, as well as working well as a team member. Since military members depend upon each other for safety, veterans are reliable employees committed to the success of the whole.
- Flexibility and performance under pressure. Veterans have experience in adapting to new situations and solving problems to complete tasks under difficult circumstances. Service members are accustomed to switching jobs often.
- Adapt at planning and organization. Military operations require extensive planning and organization. Military personnel are taught to consider objectives, strengths, limitations, resources, time constraints, supplies and other factors when accomplishing tasks, and are able to adjust plans during execution to achieve the desired goal.
- Strong work ethic. Service members are required to finish their projects and assignments regardless of distractions and other pressures. The military instills perseverance, loyalty and determination as work ethics.
- Global perspective. Military veterans have often lived in other countries and have a broader understanding of and outlook on the customs, economics, languages and cultures of other countries.