Making The Best First Impression
By Christina Carmen Crea
TACOMA Twenty eager transitioning, retired or veteran service members attended the last string of interviews at the Heroes Corporate Fellowship Academy Interview Day Dec. 11 at Bates Technical College in Tacoma.
Everyone had at least two, 20-minute interviews.
At the end of the day, five were eliminated and the 15 remaining applicants will be immersed in the 12-week, Monday through Wednesday Fellowship Academy at selected partner companies starting Jan. 12. The companies include Amazon, Compass Group, Fred Hutch, Tacoma-Pierce Chamber, Thurston EDC, ThyssenKrupp, TrueBlue, Starbucks, Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn Kids, West Elm and Pottery Barn.
“I’ve been networking like crazy, I’m so excited and ecstatic to see where this goes,” said Spc. Kevin Chambers, automated logistics for 864th Engineer Battalion. “I’m a transitioning veteran and will have served for four years total when I’m out. This program is phenomenal. I didn’t expect so much to happen. It’s already pushing me to move in the right direction. It’s refreshing and eye-opening. I could see myself fitting into these civilian jobs, and for a transitioning military person seeing themselves fitting in is a huge deal.”
With more than 9,000 service members transitioning from Joint Base Lewis-McChord to the civilian workforce each year, events like these are crucial to finding their next jobs, said Cheryl Endres, adviser and consultant of Hiring Our Heroes, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
Camo2Commerce and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program seeks to capitalize on senior noncommissioned officers and junior to mid-grade officers with fellowships at partner companies in the Seattle and Tacoma area.
Those interested applied for the opportunity to participate.
“Doing this program will get people hands-on corporal-level experience,” said Sean Murphy, Camo2Commerce project director. “It’s all in a fellowship style and the goal is for them to not be unemployed and have a smooth transition out of the military. Hopefully they will end up with them or a good company in general after this experience.
This will be a learning experience to streamline the transition process.”
This is the first pilot program of this, and as far as Murphy knows, JBLM is the first to do it.
“So far it’s remarkable the amount of outreach from the companies we’ve had,” said JBLM Commander Col. H. Charles Hodges Jr. “Companies can gain good workers from these kinds of events, it’s a win-win situation. Their future leader might be coming from these interviews today. And we are the first ones doing this kind of program, so this is a lot of fun.”
Murphy said their next event is tentatively scheduled for May 2015.
“We are talking to other partners and companies for future events,” Murphy said. “If all goes well, we hope to continue this program.”
Retired Sgt. 1st Class Tony Granados, who served for 20 years, said he “loves the program.”
“This is a great opportunity for my transition, to get my foot in the door,” Granados said. “It’s going to help Soldiers get a job and provide a smooth transition. Today I have an interview with Starbucks, and that’s a big company so I’m excited.”
Endres said she thankful that the leadership of JBLM is supportive of programs that help transitioning service members.
“This is groundbreaking, and I’m so happy to be part of it.”