John Eves is an Air Force and Army National Guard veteran who now has a management position at Walmart. He recounts his transition experiences and offers tips for veterans in the job market below.
1. Tell me about yourself. What’s your background?
I enlisted in the Air Force as a security policeman, where I worked for about six years. During that time, I earned an associate degree in criminal justice. After separation, I joined the Virginia Army National Guard, where I attended OCS and was commissioned a 2LT. I’ve also earned a Bachelor of Science degree in political science from James Madison University.
Being hired by Walmart led to an 18-year – and counting – career that afforded both me and my family the opportunity to live in four states and three countries. I’ve worked in operations in the stores, in loss prevention both in the U.S. and overseas, and am currently working in international information systems where my team looks at how to best integrate a new company’s systems to Walmart’s.
Over the years, Walmart has supported my continued military service through weekend duty, annual training, military schooling and a deployment to Iraq and Qatar. Most recently, I was able to complete my MBA through Webster University, near the Walmart home office. I received a reduced cost because classes were held at a Walmart facility and I also got credit for some of my military education.
After 25 years of combined service, I retired as a major from the Army Reserve. The military was a great experience for me.
2. Why did you decide to leave service?
Having enlisted right out of high school, I reached a point where I wanted to understand the world outside the military.
3. How did you make the transition? Was it difficult?
The transition was not easy, but then, most transitions are challenging by nature. I used the transition services provided by the military, but they were not much at the time. After about a month, I joined the National Guard. This helped me with my transition and eventually evolved into a second career in addition to my Walmart career. One of the hardest lessons I had to learn was how to leverage the leadership skills I learned in the military, but to not speak like I was still in the military. The military has a way of speaking that is suited for the environment, and the civilian world has a way of speaking that is suited for the workplace. It took work, but I developed the ability to change my way of speaking.
4. What resources did you use in your job search?
University job fairs are great opportunities to meet many potential employers and show them what you have to offer. During a fair I attended, I spoke with a Walmart representative and was offered an interview, at first I decided it would be a good opportunity to gain interview experience if nothing else, but in the end, I liked what I heard about opportunities and pay. I accepted a position in the Management Training Program at store #1726 in Harrisonburg, Va., and have been working at Walmart ever since. It all started with that job fair and I am still learning and growing with Walmart.
5. What should someone emphasize about his or her current service when transitioning to civilian employment?
Understand how your military experiences translate into civilian skills. It is not enough to simply state that you had a security clearance or that you led a platoon. It is the fact that you have proven integrity and the ability to make solid decisions while representing you and your employer well to customers that can set you apart. It is the fact that you have proven leadership, delegation, analysis and planning skills exemplified through the success of your 30-person team-- all things to stress the right way.
6. If you had to tell someone one thing about transitioning, what would your advice be?
Find a mentor in the business community willing to help guide you in your endeavors.
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. In August 2011, 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.