Transitioning from military to civilian life can be daunting, but here are 5 tips that can help you to be confidant while you do it.
- Networking early is the key. I cannot stress enough how important it is to get the help of others when you are transitioning from military to civilian life. Countless others have made the transition before you, so you should use their experiences as a guide. You should use family, neighbors, military personnel, and others to help you in your transition. Networking really is exponential, a friend may introduce you to another person who can help you more than you know. You never know, someone you meet at a backyard barbeque may just be the person you need to help you in your transition.
- There are some outstanding programs out there to help you. Among others, the Small Business Administration has great information, as does an organization known as Score which provides local mentors for service members starting their own business.
- The amount of helpful outlets can be overwhelming. For example, LinkedIn has a ton of groups that offer career advice, many of them are very good, but there are so many that it can be tough to keep up. Groups are the key to building your network on LinkedIn and you should be active in the discussions forums. Be careful though, there are a lot of people on a lot of sites saying the same things to the same people. Sometimes you just need to remind yourself that you don't need to be everywhere. You can't read everything on the internet.
- You know more than you think you do. Once you start looking around, talking to others and reading internet posts you will soon realize this. Use this to your advantage and don't be afraid to admit it to yourself.
- You don't know everything. Despite point #4 above, there are still some things you need to learn and experience. Accepting this will lead you to ask a lot of questions of a lot of people. This can motivate you to attend industry networking events and do some professional reading every day. A healthy amount of self-awareness is good, and knowing our shortcomings is a critical component in preparing for the reality of transition.