Veteran’s Perspective: Transition through Reinvention
By Mike Caraballo, Ret. Colonel, U.S. Army Reserves SVP, Project Management Manager Home Lending Product Strategy and Delivery Wells Fargo
This is a humbling honor to be able to share some advice on military transition to the civilian workforce with my Latina y Latino veterans. Latinos have served with great orgullo or pride in service to our nation throughout history. It is important we draw energy from that orgullo as one transitions from military service to a new journey in life.
When many service members hear the words “transition from service”, various emotions arise from anxiety, confusion, lack of confidence and fear of the future/unknown. A way to ease the emotional surge is to change your mindset from a transition approach to one of reinventing your career.
While there are many ways to approach how to rethink your career opportunities, I would like to touch on three topics to help you get there: personal courage, transferable skills and looking outward.
No matter how long you have served, your military career has provided you with many areas of experience with various duty assignments, mission sets (training, combat), locations (CONUS, abroad, austere) and professional development training. You should not underestimate the vast amount of capabilities you have acquired from all your experiences in reinventing your career; few civilian positions can provide the same amount of diverse operational scenarios, which you have successfully accomplished. You should draw energy and orgullo when you reflect on those experiences to say, “Yes, I did that!”. We can be our own largest obstacle with self-doubt, when we should be the exact opposite by using those experiences to support new career opportunities.
Our military service generates so many different skills as we progress through our careers, regardless of tenure in the service. There are many obvious skills that everyone gravitates towards: leadership, adaptability, teamwork, and decision-making skills, among others. As you take inventory of these transferable skills, you cannot forget the muscle memory skills that we have learned that translate well to almost any career: strategic planning, analysis, problem-solving, risk management, safety management, supply chain management, fleet operations, and event planning. Investing inward to reflect on the skills that generate passion in the most successful assignments will assist in focusing on opportunities to reinvent our career.
One of my favorite items from serving in the military is how large my extended family has become with the many brothers and sisters-in-arms that I have served alongside and maintained relationships. Seeking mentorship and networking is a great way to reflect inwardly as well as finding potential opportunities to reinvent our career through personal networks. As you rebrand yourself through the various social media applications, it is important that the messaging reflects the “new” you and aligns with your journey. Social media can be a powerful tool to boost your professional image and expand your network to reinvent yourself. Having different perspectives for industries is important in any journey. There are many trade organizations and non-profits that you can reference to support civilian transitions, learn about career roles and other opportunities to consider. The key is not to leave any stone unturned and maximize your reach and range of outward support for reinventing your career. The more intel you can gather from outside sources the greater chances you will have in finding the best opportunities for your new journey.
Hopefully, you will find some nuggets of information that are useful for your journey, to help reinvent yourself for a new career and that will generate as much passion and success as you have achieved in the military.
Mucha suerte! Good Luck! ARMY STRONG
Mike Caraballo is a retired Colonel, U.S. Army Reserves, and a combat veteran with multiple deployments. He is a Senior Vice President with Wells Fargo in the Home Lending Product Strategy & Delivery area. Caraballo leads the Enterprise Veteran Team Member Network (Employee Resource Group) with over 10,000 employee membership. He also serves on the board of the San Antonio Sports Foundation.