Fellowship program eases transition to civilian roles for active duty service members
In a competitive labor market, candidates and companies alike need to leverage any partnerships or resources which might give them a leg up. This is especially true for members of the Armed Forces like Chuck Unruh, who experience unique challenges when transitioning into civilian roles. Targeting an early 2020 transition from the Army, Unruh turned to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes (HOH) initiative.
Launched in 2011, Hiring Our Heroes is a nonprofit, nationwide initiative to help veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses find meaningful employment opportunities. One of the resources that HOH provides is its Corporate Fellowship Program (CFP) which allows companies to bring on active duty service members or military spouses as fellows. The CFP helps connect transitioning service members to opportunities for hands-on corporate training, mentoring, and experience while helping employers tap into a pool of top talent.
The CFP is an authorized organization under the Department of Defense’s SkillBridge Program, which aims to connect transitioning service members with real-world job experiences. Transitioning service members from any branch of service may apply if they meet the eligibility requirements. DoD Instruction 1322.29 allows service members to participate in authorized programs with command approval.
HOH holds three CFP cohorts annually at multiple locations across the United States. Over the course of three months, program fellows complete on-the-job training with their host company four days a week. At the end of each week, fellows attend a “leadership huddle” with senior-level guest speakers to prepare them for their transition to the private sector and to offer networking opportunities. Leidos recently hosted one of these huddles on Nov. 1 at its Reston, Va., headquarters, giving Unruh a chance to tell his peers about his host company.
“I started my fellowship at the end of August and have been working in capture management in the Military & Veterans Health Solutions group,” says Unruh, the first-ever HOH fellow at Leidos. “I’ve learned a lot about capture management, business development and operations in a very short time, and from colleagues and a company whose values align with mine.”
With almost 7,300 employees who are veterans, its Operation MVP hiring program for transitioning service members, and its MAG (Military Alliance Group) employee resource group, Leidos is committed to providing veterans with fulfilling civilian careers. As a corporate partner of HOH, Leidos gains special access to highly-qualified transitioning service members.
“Their CFP allows us to find great candidates like Chuck, but working with HOH as a whole also helps us develop a more comprehensive understanding of the job market for veterans,” says Alex Verhulst, Talent Acquisition Military Program Manager at Leidos.
Unruh discovered HOH while he was an Army Medical Service Corps officer for a medical intelligence center. He attended a Soldier For Life – Transition Assistance Program workshop provided by the Army, learned about the CFP, and asked for and received his leadership’s approval to apply for the program.
After being accepted as one of the program’s 931 fellows this year, Unruh was placed with Leidos for his 12-week fellowship. The CFP has graduated more than 2,400 participants since it began in 2015. Unruh’s cohort graduated on November 12 but his civilian career is just getting started.
“I hope to come back to Leidos as a full-time employee early next year,” says Unruh.