Episode 217. A Guide for Military Women Figuring Out Post-Military Careers

May 1, 2024

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As a military woman, the transition from military life to civilian career can be both exciting and daunting. It’s a time of change, growth, and new opportunities. In episode 217, we dive into the crucial steps to help you navigate this transition and take charge of your future career.


1. Brainstorming Roles of Interest


The first step in planning your post-military career is to brainstorm. Take the time to list down all the roles and opportunities that interest you, including potential paths in corporate sectors, entrepreneurship, or further education. It’s essential to explore a variety of options and consider what truly ignites your passion and interest.


2. Reviewing and Choosing a Role


Once you have a list of potential roles, it’s time to narrow down your focus. Pick one role that resonates with you and dive deep into understanding its requirements, skills, and potential for growth. Research job descriptions, seek out mentors in that field, and visualize yourself thriving in that role.


3. Considering Location Type


Understanding the different location types for your future career is pivotal. Whether you prefer on-site, hybrid, or fully remote work environments, knowing your preferences will help you align your career goals with your desired lifestyle and work dynamics.


4. The Power of Networking


Networking is a powerful tool for advancing your career. Connect with fellow veterans, attend in-person events, and leverage social media platforms like LinkedIn to build meaningful connections. Engage in conversations, ask questions, and listen actively to gain insights and expand your professional network.


As you approach the transition from military to civilian life, remember that the journey is unique to you. Embrace the opportunity to explore diverse career paths, seek out mentorship, and build a strong support network. By following these steps and staying true to your goals and aspirations, you can pave the way for a successful post-military career.


In conclusion, transitioning into a new career after the military is a significant milestone in your professional journey. By taking proactive steps to brainstorm, review, consider location type, and network effectively, you can set yourself up for success in the civilian sector. Remember, the possibilities are endless, and with determination and strategic planning, you can achieve your career goals beyond the military experience.


As military women, we have the resilience, skills, and determination to excel in any field we choose. Let’s embrace this new chapter with confidence and enthusiasm, knowing that our unique experiences and perspectives will propel us to new heights in our post-military careers.

Join me on May 15th at 12PM ET for “How Women Veterans Can Navigate a Stressful Military Transition with Confidence”


[00:00:00] Wendi: Hello ladies. And welcome to episode [00:01:00] 217. Today’s topic is all about figuring out your career after the military. So if you’re transitioning or thinking about the transition, this one is for you. And also want to encourage you to take notes, but if you’re driving or you are multitasking and you’re not able to do that now I’m completely okay.

[00:01:18] Wendi: Tune in. But want to encourage you to come back to this episode and Rumi take notes so that you can start where you are in your journey. You may still need. A couple of months or maybe 12 months before you transition. But when I tell you these four steps are going to help you. With a starting point and give you direction with the future career that you’re possibly trying to pursue, or have no idea even where to begin. This is the episode that you wanted to Tilly. Tune into. And if you were to transition now or maybe love what you’re doing, [00:02:00] mound highly encourage that you still share this episode with someone. Another military lady another veteran that maybe wants to pivot their career. Because these items that I’m going to be going over today. Oh, very helpful.

[00:02:13] Wendi: Even when you are pivoting. Your career when you’re already in a post-military career, because what I’ve learned. And one of the reasons why I felt really compelled to make this episode is because so many of you all. That are already out, are still figuring out the next chapter. Meaning now you’ve been in a job for a year or two, and now you want something different or maybe the role that you’re in now is not something that you can see yourself growing into and now you want to pivot.

[00:02:43] Wendi: And so that’s why I wanted to share with you all this episode to help you. Get started in that pivot in that next career. But most importantly, if you are still in the military and you’re like, I have no idea where to begin. I’m getting out in a year, year and a half, [00:03:00] six months. This is something that you want to pay close attention to, and really take action on because I’m telling you, this is the process that’s going to help you. Get to the next step. And so, like I mentioned earlier, it’s four steps and here are the first steps and I’m going to dive into each of each one. Because it’s so important that we not only elaborate. On what exactly the steps are, but also to keep it simple, I’m all about keeping everything simple.

[00:03:29] Wendi: So if there is something that you’re like, okay, I don’t want to do, or I feel confused then maybe you have Over-thought that step. And so I want you to take a step back because sometimes we do do that, especially when we are so focused on getting things done and want it to look perfect. I want you to take a step back and really. just focus on simple. And very, general, because at this point we’re still figuring out what we want to pursue. And the first [00:04:00] one is to brainstorm, brainstorm any role that you’re possibly interested in. Two review

[00:04:09] Wendi: one of those roles you pick one. And then the other one is location. Location location, location. And by that, I mean, the type of location that, that job role is tied to. And then the fourth one is networking. And so one of these four will help you begin to pursue the actual job that you might be considering, or the actual career that you may be considering. And for that, I mean, it doesn’t have to be. Solidified it doesn’t have to be. Something that you have to do when you get out, but it’s a starting point.

[00:04:56] Wendi: So for those of you that are perfectionism that [00:05:00] want to know all the details, they want the exact plan. This isn’t how we’re going to figure all of that out. This is just a starting point to get you there. So this is for somebody that if you are a year out and you’re like, I just have so many different aspirations, different careers that I want to pursue. This is what you, where you would want to start. And so going back to brainstorming a lot of the times when women come to me and they ask, you know, What is it that I could do outside of the military? They ask me as if I have the answer for them. Or here’s my other favorite one based on my personality quiz. Or based on my strengths, this is what I should be doing. What I always ask them is have they even asked themselves that question?

[00:05:57] Wendi: What is it that they want to pursue? [00:06:00] Most of the time they have, but they have not written anything down or even consider other roles that they are also interested in. And here’s what most of the time. Also a lot of people do not only women, but also men out there. If they were an HR professional, like myself, When they were in, they immediately go to. Wanting to be an HR professional. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

[00:06:29] Wendi: Absolutely. Nothing wrong. But here’s the thing. Most of the time, they don’t enjoy the job in the military. And for some reason, they think that they’re going to enjoy that when they transition out. So if you’re not enjoying it or something that you’re not passionate about, something that doesn’t. You know peak your interest every day, or ignites that fire in your belly. That’s something that you don’t want to pursue in the civilian sector, because it’s going to be completely different.

[00:06:55] Wendi: You’re going to have to learn. Different skills. You’re going to have to [00:07:00] also learn different material, other hard skills. And so if you’re not in it for the long run, It’s just not going to work. And so I always offered to bring storm everything. That you could possibly want to pursue. And that even includes in education.

[00:07:19] Wendi: So it doesn’t have to even be a specific role in the corporate sector or in the civilian sector. It could be. Anything entrepreneurship. Just list all of that in the reason I encourage you. To list all of these steps. Or upset. Sorry. All of these. Roles or opportunities. Is because you want to be able to see it visually somewhere. On a word document on a Google sheet on a piece of paper. It doesn’t matter.

[00:07:49] Wendi: You want to be able to see it and to be visible so that when you’re actually going back and you look at it and you’re like, okay, I really don’t want to be an interior designer. That was [00:08:00] just kind of like, you know, I was inspired, but now I don’t want to do that. Or I thought about. Being an entrepreneur, but I actually don’t have. You know, the time or the energy to do that.

[00:08:14] Wendi: As soon as I get out. Or I want to go pursue my master’s degree. But if I’m being honest, I really would like to start. In an actual role and start my career there. So that’s where a lot of the additional questions are going to come up. And here’s another thing too with Bellus. That is so important. You get to see. Other roles that maybe someone brought to you, meaning that somebody said, oh, you could be a project manager and you wrote it down because again, your brain is going to download all of that.

[00:08:50] Wendi: It’s going to literally give you that when you’re. You know, just giving yourself five, 10 minutes to brainstorm everything. And so maybe there’s the possibility, right? And so [00:09:00] then you have that list. You, you have it, you put it away. You then want to review one role. And again, if your son’s education, if you are, is entrepreneurship, I want you to pick one thing. So for the role, for example, I’d say it’s project management. You picked that role. And if it’s for entrepreneurship, let’s say you want to start your own consulting business.

[00:09:25] Wendi: You pick consulting. If you want to get an edge, you know, master’s degree and business, you pick that. That specific. Degree. And so when you do that, More specifically for the role, what, what that’s going to help you identify? Is to then go in Google that role. So again, going back to the project manager, manager position, You’re going to go and Google project manager role. And it’s going to give you thousands.

[00:09:59] Wendi: Hundreds of [00:10:00] job descriptions. So when you do that, You’re going to pick that one role and then you get to see exactly. The skills required for that role. And that’s going to be either the hard or the soft skills. Meaning. The hard skills are the skills that are specific to that role in order for you to actually get that job done. And so for most of us that are in the military that have had experience in the military, Most of the transferrable skills that we have acquired are either problem-solving communication. Teamwork leadership. So there are going to be already. Transferable skills that you can identify and feel more confident about that you can and are able to do the job. But then there’s also going to be skills that are hard skills, like learning how to use a certain [00:11:00] point. Productivity tool. Great example of this, would it be Smartsheet?

[00:11:03] Wendi: Some of you probably have never heard Smartsheet. Or Or just a different tool. That is being used. In that specific organization, that company. And so what you want to do is now you’re learning that these are additional things that you need to be prepared for and prepare with. And so when he gives you an idea of all the technical and all the other skills and all the other, you know, education requirements gives you all these other preferred qualifications that they’re looking for. To help you. Get started on that journey of what exactly am I going to pursue?

[00:11:44] Wendi: Is this what I want? And so that’s a great starting point with reviewing the role. So again, first we’re going to brainstorm the roles. We’re going to pick one role and we’re going to then look up that rule. And then look at the transferable skills as well as the [00:12:00] skills that are needed, that you probably don’t have most likely being the hard skills. Which are the technical skills. That are required to get the job done. So when you have that, you are now more aware. Of what exactly. You may be wanting to pursue right.

[00:12:18] Wendi: You make right then and there. So, you know what? Project management is not what I want, or this consulting company is not going to be beneficial for me and my family at this time. Or pursuing this degree or getting this real estate license, whatever it may be for you. But here’s the other part of that.

[00:12:35] Wendi: So now that you’ve done brainstorming, you’re new to the role and you’re like, okay, I’m getting started. I’m getting a little bit of. You know, motivation on where exactly I want to go with my career outside of the military, even though you have 12 months, six months still to make a decision. I want you to look at the location type. And by that. I mean. Understanding the [00:13:00] types of location that are out there.

[00:13:02] Wendi: So I’ll give you the three ones right now. And again, this is more specifically for corporate roles. Opportunities that are in the civilian sector for you to pursue. With a company, not necessarily entrepreneurship or even. Education. And so the three types are the on-site. As most of us are used to in the military, the onsite ones, meaning you have to go in every single day. Or maybe opportunities to like a construction site.

[00:13:31] Wendi: You can’t do that remotely unless you’re a project manager, but again you have that option onsite. You have hybrid where you possibly have to do some work on site one or two days a week, or. You have the actual, fully remote. Which means that you are remote. You don’t go in the office. You’re not obligated to go in.

[00:13:52] Wendi: You are at your remote worker working from your home or from a coffee shop in front of your computer. And everything that you do is [00:14:00] remote.

[00:14:02] Wendi: And so those are the three, three types. And so you knowing that and understanding that is going to give you a better opportunity to then have these conversations with your loved ones, right?

[00:14:13] Wendi: Like what are my priorities too? We want to relocate to our small town. Do we want to relocate home where, you know, the industry that I’m focused on is nowhere to be found. Do we want to go back home. And I also, for my mental health, want to be able to go in. To the actual site and actually have face-to-face conversations with other humans. Instead of staring at the wall or doing my work from home. Or do I just want to be on site full-time because I want to learn and. I’m okay with relocating, wherever the job is. So identifying that early on is [00:15:00] also helpful because then you get to see that job role, like we mentioned, at the very beginning, when we’re brainstorming that one role that you pick, let’s say project manager. You look at the roles that are available on indeed on LinkedIn. Any other site? Even Google itself has so many opportunities, job postings that are available. And you can see what’s available based on your location type that you actually prefer.

[00:15:29] Wendi: So like, let’s say it’s remote. Now you can see that there’s just so many opportunities on project management. Remote opportunities. But if you’re like, I really want to go to a specific city. Let’s say it’s Miami, Florida. And you are now only looking in Miami, Florida for those roles and you get to see. What the opportunities look like?

[00:15:52] Wendi: Yes. You’re 12 months out. You’re six months out. But you get an idea of what that will look like. And most of the time, especially my [00:16:00] ladies, they don’t want to even consider a location. Because they are dual military. And so they’re following their spouses. They’re following. Their loved one. And so sometimes it’s even a hard conversation to have, but if you know that there’s remote remote opportunities. In the field in the industry that you want to go into.

[00:16:21] Wendi: It’s a sigh of relief in religious kidding now, too. You know what remote opportunities are there or. What remote opportunities that I am interested are available. Now. And so again, it gets, you started. In one supposed sir, into really understanding the opportunities, the possibilities that are out there waiting for you. For your next career. And the last one, my favorite. I think this one gets oversee a little bit. Because of how uncomfortable it is at the beginning.

[00:16:56] Wendi: And that is networking. And a lot of people [00:17:00] when B. Here, when they’re working, they either ready or they want to avoid it. And it’s because it’s a process, right? Networking. Is that something that you just wake up or take off your uniform? And now you’re like great at networking. Now, if you’re a person that is an extrovert or loves to talk, loves to meet new people, because you don’t even have to be an extrovert to love to meet new people, but you want to be able to keep it simple.

[00:17:25] Wendi: Like I said, at the very beginning, you want to be able to be willing to learn on how to communicate with either strangers or even. The people that you know, but how to make it not only impactful. Put also beneficial for both parties, because that’s what it is when you’re networking. You want it to be where you both. Caning knowledge, insight, but also building that connection. And that’s really, what’s going to help you get connected with others and how you’re going to connect that other individual with other individuals. [00:18:00] And so the way I always like to offer this and encourage my clients to do this. Is by thinking about it in a way where they’re just interacting with someone. Especially at the very beginning where you are the one that’s listening. Where you don’t have to have an agenda, you don’t have to have any high expectations.

[00:18:22] Wendi: All you have to do is listen. Of course, you’re going to have to introduce yourself. My name is Wendy. I’m a veteran or I’m in the military, all of that stuff that is already something that you have practiced and see a lot. Most of the time, because when you introduce yourself, you’re like, oh yeah, I’m in the army.

[00:18:42] Wendi: Or I’m in the Marine Corps. I’m in the Navy and this is what I do. And that support, right. You know how to do that. So you feel comfortable. And so I always encourage you to start in one of these three areas where you’re most comfortable, because again, we want to keep it simple. We want to keep it to, we are [00:19:00] not challenging ourselves just yet.

[00:19:01] Wendi: Especially if you are six to 12 months out. And the three one, the three, one that I always encourage an offer. My clients are. Actually connected to other fellow veterans of yours. To attend in-person events. And three use social media more specifically LinkedIn as your platform. Two. Network communicate, engage, connect with others. And the way I encourage all of my clients again. To do this is to one start. Where you are more in most comfortable. So let’s just say for you, it’s reaching out to a fellow veteran that transitioned out last year, three years ago, 20 years ago, whatever it may be. I know you have at least one person. That transitioned out. You reached out to that fellow veteran and you say, Hey, Wendy, I know you transitioned about seven years ago. Would love to pick your [00:20:00] brain on how you ended up what you’re doing now. Or in your role now? Oh, okay.

[00:20:06] Wendi: Great. So now you’re comfortable. I feel genuine about your connection. We’ve connected. And now we’re having a conversation. So your only job is to listen. That’s all you have to do is listen to windy. Give you her spill because she wants to talk about herself. Who doesn’t want to talk about themselves, right?

[00:20:28] Wendi: This is why it’s so important for you to just listen. In everything that I’m saying you are now picking different areas that you are curious about that you’re genuinely curious about. So you just have to be ready with one question. Through all of these platforms, these three ways that you can network. And so let’s just say now you’re ready.

[00:20:48] Wendi: Right? Like, okay. Wendy was great. I spoke to five others now I’m ready to go. And in-person event. Or I was invited by Wendy to come to this career fair or this. Veteran [00:21:00] community event, whatever it may be or hiring of it. You now are more confident in asking that question, you know, how did you get into this role or. You know, how did you get into project management?

[00:21:13] Wendi: Whatever it may be. And now you’ve built the skill of listening. In your identifying curiosity again, you’re connecting. And when that happens, especially in person. You are building this connection and you’re leaving an impactful. Connection or engagement based on you just listening. Because again, people want to be heard. And especially if you are asking them about them, they are going to want to continue to talk to you.

[00:21:41] Wendi: And they’re going to say, oh, by the way, let me connect you with Matthew. Let me connect you with Sophia. Let me connect you with this recruiter. Let me connect you with this person that will know about engineering, because now you’re talking and all these questions I’ve come up and all of a sudden you’re like, yeah, I’m motivated about [00:22:00] engineering, whatever it may be. And in the last one is LinkedIn.

[00:22:05] Wendi: LinkedIn is such a powerful platform. Such a powerful platform to connect. You don’t even have to say anything. You can literally just like a post. You could comment. On any pulse, which by the way, if you’re not following me on LinkedIn, I invite you to come follow me on LinkedIn. I am now posting or actually providing weekly newsletters on how to help you with your transition. And so if you don’t already, my handle is a Wendi, W E N D.

[00:22:36] Wendi: I. Last name Wray W R A Y. And you can find me on LinkedIn, hit the follow button, subscribe to my newsletter and you’ll get it directly into your inbox. And so with LinkedIn, you, what I love about connecting on social media is that a lot of the times you’ll find people that are connected with other people.

[00:22:57] Wendi: So you’ll connect with me and you’ll connect with [00:23:00] my connections and their connections. So it’s like third and second degree connections. Meaning you’ll have access to my connections. Just by connecting with me. And so that’s beneficial, especially when I’m connected with the recruiters, with other people that are hiring other people that are looking for veterans.

[00:23:18] Wendi: And so it can, it’s so helpful and such a powerful platform to be on, especially if you’re figuring out your career, you’re trying to. Learn more about that industry, about that role. This is a great place to start in, by the way, when you send someone a message and they respond to you when you’re like, Hey, I’m trying to connect, I’m trying to build my network.

[00:23:39] Wendi: I’m trying to learn more about what you’re doing as a project manager. They will literally want to help you and might not be right away, but they will respond. And you’ll have it right there visible and you can literally copy and paste. Their feedback or the recommendations. And you already have it ready without even having to take any notes and you have it in your [00:24:00] toolkit, right? And so again, the question that I recommend for you to focus on any of these three, or how did you get into this field?

[00:24:08] Wendi: That’s the one question, that’s it? It’s so simple. And you don’t need to overthink anything and it doesn’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to be. Or have the perfect pitch, but here’s what I also want to encourage you to do. When you get to 90 days or closer as you’re getting out. Preferably 120, so four months out when you’re ready to work. I want you to go to as many events as possible. And or connect with as many people as possible on social media.

[00:24:36] Wendi: And here’s why. You’ll be able to tell them exactly what you’re looking for and exactly what role you’re interested in. And it’s going to become easier. You’re building this habit. You’re building. This confidence on how to communicate with another individual face to face and be able to tell them what you’re looking for. What you’re interested in [00:25:00] and it’s going to become so much better. You’re going to tell them exactly what you need and they will help you. And that is the beauty of networking.

[00:25:11] Wendi: You’re literally practicing. You’re using this for when you are in front of someone that can help you. That is a recruiter. You never know, right. Someone may have an opportunity available for you. And we’ll be right there waiting for you. And just to wrap it up. First you want to brainstorm. You want to review that role. You want to focus on location type, and then you want to start networking. That’s how you will start figuring out as a starting point on how. To figure out your post-military career. All right, ladies. Have a great rest of your day