Former Army intelligence analyst Joy Baucom has found a niche in a civilian career as an asset protection manager in retail. Joy recounts her transition experiences and offers some tips below.
What's your background?
I am originally from Staten Island, NY. I received BBA in Finance from Pace University. Prior to joining the military I worked with Philip Morris Capital Corp and PepsiCo International in their Finance Departments.
After September 11, 2001, I was very convinced that joining the military was a family tradition I was going to continue in order to support my country. I joined the Army in 2003 as an Intelligence Analyst and became a Non Commissioned Officer. I supported Operation Iraqi Freedom II and help start the first interrogation Battalion in the Army. During my military career I pursued my MBA from the University of Phoenix. In October 2008, after visiting Walmart's headquarters and learning about the company's culture and humble beginnings, I was convinced that Walmart should be the next move in my career. Due to my experience in the intelligence and security field, I was hired as the Market Asset Protection Manager for Miami, Fl. During my time in Miami, my team and I were recognized for the Safety Impact Award for the Florida Division. Recently I was promoted to Regional Asset Protection Manager of 83 stores throughout the Washington and Oregon State area.
Why did you decide to leave service?
I left the service because I wanted the liberty to spend more time with my family. Shortly after I was discharged, my father, a disabled Vietnam veteran, passed away. Separating at the time I did allowed me to spend those last few months with my father.
How did you make the transition? Was it difficult?
The transition was difficult at first; however, with the support and prayers of my family, it went smoother than expected. I also reached out to my local VA medical center which had great resources and special attention for veterans who just came back from Iraq and Afghanistan.
To be honest, if I did not reach out to the VA shortly after being discharged I am not sure if I would be as far along with my transition process as I am now. The support groups and medical attention that was paid to me as a veteran was second to none.
What resources did you use in your search?
Initially my main resource was the internet. I believe most job centers push for that. However, I think there were two factors that contributed to my keys to success as a veteran.
The first factor was teaming up with a resume service to help put together all my experiences into something that would make sense and look professional. I accomplished a lot in the military, but like many other transitioning veterans, I found it difficult to translate it properly. Having that help pushed me through the early stages of the process, and I started getting interviews.
The other key is getting out to the job fairs. Now that I am working on the other side as an employer, I am experiencing that sometimes you get so many resumes that it is easy to overlook good candidates. However, by attending job fairs, you get to sell yourself as a potential candidate -- and you never know who or what they may be looking for. That is exactly what happened to me. At the time I separated, with my security clearance, I was looking to work for a federal agency. Then I bumped into a Walmart recruiter that explained the company's commitment to hiring transitioning military and the various roles they were looking to fill. He explained a pretty simple philosophy: "you can always teach someone the business. It's harder to teach someone how to be a leader."
If you had to give advice about transitioning, what would it be?
Work on your resume. Make sure you have a few versions for different types of jobs that you want. If you want to work in security make sure your resume highlights your experience there, or if you want to work in a brokerage firm make sure your resume is geared towards that. There have been many resumes that I have seen from veterans that list their position but do not elaborate on how that transfers to the job they are applying for. For example, I received a resume from a squad leader of a Tank Battalion applying for a district-level security position on my team. The resume never highlighted the leadership, planning or communication skills he gained from his military experience. With my background, I knew the amount of responsibility he had in his last position, but for someone not familiar with military vocabulary or roles, it may not make sense.
My second tip is, when you do get your opportunity, learn how to adapt to your job's corporate cultural quickly. In the military it's all about taking and giving direction. In corporate America it's about influencing others through leadership -- by gaining their trust and confidence. If you don't adjust, people may take you the wrong way or you may be viewed as lacking people skills.
Quick Facts: Walmart and the Veteran and Military Communities:
- Walmart recently launched a new veteran-focused career site -- www.walmartcareerswithamission.com aimed at matching veteran and transitioning military's jobs skill with Walmart's career opportunities.
- Walmart is a national sponsor of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's "Hiring Our Heroes" career fairs. The Chamber is hosting more than 100 fairs for veterans and military families in cities across the United States. For a full list of upcoming career fairs, please visit: www.uschamber.com/veterans.
- On Veterans Day 2010, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation launched a five-year, $10 million commitment to organizations that serve the veteran and military communities, placing a special emphasis on supporting job readiness and training. This past August, during the annual meeting of the American Legion in Minneapolis, Minn, Walmart announced that they'd double their support from $10 million to $20 million through 2015.
- Walmart's Military Family Promise guarantees a job at a nearby store or club for all military personnel, and military spouses, employed at Walmart and Sam's Club who move to a different part of the country because they or their spouse have been transferred by the United States military. The program also ensures associates called away to active military duty will be paid any difference in their salary if the associate is earning less money during their military assignment.