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VCTP – The Free Education Present of a Lifetime

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Have you been wondering how you would fund your information technology (IT) or project management (PMP) certification? This holiday season, I found a present that could make a complete difference in your future! Allow me introduce the Veterans Career Transition Program (VCTP), part of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University. VCTP provides FREE online programs for veterans transitioning from the military to corporate careers. They provide training to prepare for 29 certifications to include programs such as Six Sigma Green Belt and Comp TIA network certification with access to courses for up to one full year. Also, participants become official Syracuse University students and receive non-credit certificates upon program completion!

According to the website, vets.syr.edu/employment, the IVMF acts as a bridge between veterans, military families and industry/government/NGO programs positioned to create employment and vocational training opportunities. The institute provides resources and support services to veterans and their families to identify and pursue employment opportunities, leveraging skills and experiences gained in military service and new skills and knowledge gained post-service. The IVMF assists with strategies to recruit, assimilate, retain and advance veterans and military families in employment. 

To be eligible for the VCTP program, one must be a post 9/11 veteran or military service member within one year of transition from military service to the civilian workforce. This eligibility includes Guard and Reserve members who have civilian careers. Also, VCTP has become the gift that keeps on giving, because the program is now open to spouses of eligible Veterans effective November 2013! 

To participate, complete an application at www.vets.syr.edu/vctp. The first teaching cohort for 2014 begins January 20, 2014, and the next one will be in April (date yet to be determined). Courses run quarterly throughout the year, or you can train at your own pace on the Independent Study Track. The VCTP has been highly successful. Since its launch in 2011, they have experienced 30% growth quarterly. They hope to train 1,000 Service members annually.

Dan Cohen serves as the VCTP Program Manager. He deployed to Iraq and served in Germany as an Army Officer. He was commissioned in 2001 from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Army ROTC program and was a Field Artillery Lieutenant 11 days before the world was turned upside down on 9/11. Cohen can't say enough about the VCTP, stating, "Translating skills acquired while in the military to a language that is meaningful to employers outside is one of the most discussed challenges of veterans seeking post-service careers. This program helps veterans (and now military spouses) by providing training, and in many cases industry-recognized certification, to validate skills the service member learned while in the military or to start down a completely new path on the outside."

The program is paid for in entirety by a grant from JPMorgan Chase & Co for Veterans who have served at least one day after 9/11. The program is available to all ranks. According to Cohen, "We've had everyone from E-1's with other than honorable discharge to O-6's. We've had all branches represented. We've had GED's through dual Master's Degrees.  We've had Seals to Infantrymen to truck drivers – everyone takes something different from the program, but it benefits them all."

The VCTP Tech Track program provides the opportunity to receive free education in high demand IT fields to increase employability. One recent graduate said "I directly credit SU's Veterans' Technology Program for my successful job search. While technical training provided by the program was important, as important was the opportunity for professional networking and referrals." He was quickly employed by Cisco Systems as an Advanced Services Project Manager.

There tracks provided in VCTP include the Professional Skills Track, Human Resources Track, Tech Track and Independent Study Track. Tech Track focuses on preparing transitioning Service members for careers in operations or information technology (IT). One of the most popular VCTP training courses is the PMP course, which validates knowledge of project management principles. Of all the courses offered in the last VCTP class, 40% of the students pursued the PMP. Training is asynchronous, presented for six weeks at 20 hours per week or more based on the needs of the learner, and requires 7,500 hours of experience in project management. To receive the PMP certification, participants must sit for an exam, paid for by the VCTP. Additionally, VCTP provides practice exams which feature a rotating pool of questions to ensure student preparation.

The Professional Skills Track is another offering from the VCTP. It provides skills to effectively prepare for and execute job searches, including company research and resume and cover letter writing. As described by Cohen, "We have something called the Professional Skills Track for people who need help understanding industry careers, mock-interviews, resume writing, understanding the corporate environment, etc. We put them through coursework supplied by SkillPath.  They will meet with an advisor, who will red-ink their resume and send it back and provide mock interviews via Skype and Google Plus."

The Human Resources (HR) curriculum is new. The training is certified by the Human Resources Certification Institute, a subsidiary of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), an industry leader in the field. The curriculum prepares newcomers to HR as well as seasoned HR personnel to take the Professional in Human Resources and Senior PHR certification exams, dependent on experience level.   

For those who would rather pursue the coursework at your own pace, there is the Independent Study Track which provides six months of access to a variety of classes and a bank of 25 courses to design your own program. This program allows participants to start immediately and is best suited for individual learners. Industry certification is available through this track for those who complete the entire learning path.

Take full advantage of the VCTP training present offered by JPMorgan Chase & Company and be on the lookout for new programs from IVMF! The VCTP has been highly successful for participants. A Marine Sergeant said, "I was fortunate to have in-depth evaluations of my resume by advisors, which led to compliments by several employers that I interviewed with. I also was able to reach out to advisors for direction and guidance in my job search and interviewing process. It was extremely helpful and I feel it really helped push me ahead of other candidates. I ended up receiving three job offers shortly after I finished the Veterans Technology Program." Are you next?

I look forward to hearing from you at rca@navy.mil.

 
GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill
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