The skill set and can-do mentality veterans bring to a corporation is undeniable. They are often the lifeblood of the organizations they join, bringing their leadership, teamwork, and problem-solving expertise to tackle large projects and key initiatives.
At Lam Research, we value the experience, discipline, structure, and work ethic of our military veterans. As a company, we help veterans as they transition into the corporate workforce through community outreach and internal initiatives to show support and appreciation.
Everything is unknown when you’re first leaving the military. There is a major shift involved for veterans as they are literally changing their lifestyle, location, and even work routine while moving into the corporate world. This transition can be tricky, but fellow veterans are always willing to lend a helping hand and offer words of advice.
We asked six veterans, who are also Lam employees, to share their tips for getting ready to transition into the corporate world.
1. Start planning the transition as early as you possibly can.
As a Fremont native, Michael Rogers knew he wanted to come back to his hometown after serving 10 years in the U.S. Marine Corps. He also knew he wanted to work in the tech field and in an industry he thought was going to still be around when he was ready to retire. Due to operational commitments and the processing time for his transition into the reserves, he had a total of five month to prepared for leaving active duty. Michael advises that veterans use their limited transition time wisely. Focus on locations, strong industries, and companies that are the best fit to meet your new life and work objectives.
When planning ahead, it is important to develop a transition plan that supports your family and career objectives. It was also recommended to have at least six months or more of your salary saved before your transition date.
2. Educate yourself.
There are several different ways to educate yourself while you prepare for the transition. Marie Jimenez started reading The Wall Street Journal and Harvard Business Review to learn more about business. A former nuclear surface warfare officer for the U.S. Navy, Marie is now a pilot operations program manager at Lam.
In addition to the mandatory classes taken before leaving the military, there are also optional follow-on classes that can be very helpful and should not be skipped. Taking advantage of the different classes is a good process to go through to start to change your mind and reference, the veterans advised.
“Use your GI bill, it’s free college so you might as well,” said Dino Molatore, a former sergeant in the U.S. Army and currently a field service supervisor at Lam.
3. Take the time to translate your skills and find the right company.
“In the military, everything is an acronym. From the way you tell time to the way you talk to people. Curb your vocabulary,” shared Greg Fernandez, a former major in the U.S. Army who has transitioned from the military twice. He went back into the Army after September 11 and retired in 2014 before joining Lam.
Once you have an idea of the industry you are interested in for the next chapter of your life, create a resume that is not military focused. “One of the biggest obstacles is to translate your military experience into a civilian-style resume,” confessed Greg. He also suggested having someone that is nonmilitary review your resume and red line words they don’t understand to ensure the military jargon is removed.
Some of the Lam employees used recruiting companies to help assist with landing their positions. The recruiters helped them prepare for interview questions and practice composing answers that translated their military experience into applicable examples for the position.
“Do not sell your experience short,” said Michael, who also counsels vets to wait for the best company offer that matches their new lifestyle goals.
4. Reach out and network.
“Networking is important in the military and really important in the corporate world,” said Marie, who leverages sites such as LinkedIn to build her professional circle.
The vets recommended informational interviews as an effective way to learn about a company and the profession. “Use this as a learning opportunity and bring a resume – but wait until your point of contact asks for it,” said Greg. “Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Most people are willing to give an hour or two.”
Both Michael and Greg pointed out you do not need a direct connection before reaching out, and it’s okay if you don’t know exactly what you want to do. When leaving the military, you can do anything you want. Learning firsthand from people in a variety of fields will help narrow down the best fit for you.
5. Be prepared for an adjustment.
After landing your position, know there will be a learning curve. “We are competitive and used to knowing things and winning,” said Giles Royster. “You may be used to running, but you first need to walk or even crawl if you are new to the industry. Give yourself time to learn the acronyms.” Giles was an investment banking analyst before going into the U.S. Marines, so had to readjust into the corporate world as well as learn about the semiconductor manufacturing industry.
Before joining Lam about a year ago, Ben Winston went to business school after serving in the U.S. Navy as chief of operations for a joint special ops task force. He shared how the chain of command in the corporate world is much different, finding it delightfully surprising you can “jump up the ladder” for questions. He also enjoys the similarities such as knowing he is in a community of individuals working on a common goal.
Both Giles and Ben share a manager who is also a veteran, so he was cognizant of the transition needs and walked them through the foundational steps to learn about the industry and the work culture at Lam.
6. Find like-minded individuals to connect with.
It was extremely helpful to bond with fellow new employees when Giles joined Lam. While serving in the Marines, he had become accustomed to the camaraderie, and after moving into the corporate sector, he appreciated the opportunity to spend time with fellow employees – vets and non-vets – who were also navigating their new careers and learning about Lam.
Michael also stressed the importance of making interpersonal connections when starting a new position. “Reach out and connect with as many people at your new company as possible,” said Michael. “Most veterans miss the camaraderie they get in the military. They are in a new location, with a new job, and a new way of life.”
7. Put your military skills into action.
If you’ve served, you already have many of the skills companies are looking for: discipline, integrity, work ethic, good judgment, and the ability to think on your feet. Ben leveraged his strong work ethic and willingness to tackle challenges to help ease his transition into Lam.
Dino encourages vets to keep their military core values in ethos at their company. “Figure out a way to transition your military core values into your new position,” said Dino. “This was an easy transition at Lam, as many aligned with Lam’s core values.”
Marie often applies the understanding of communication she learned while in the Navy to her job. She adjusts her communication style and message based on the audience she communicates with, such as management versus direct reports. She also uses her knowledge of when to apply pressure to a situation and when to step back and give someone free rein.
As Lam grew very fast in the past few years, Michael was able to apply his problem-solving skills as new challenges emerged from the rapid business expansion. He also taps into his ability to ask the right questions, listen, and synthesize the information into something that is usable, as well as to communicate a project’s vision to people who’ve never heard of it.
In addition to their day jobs at Lam, veterans are often in the community, continuing to serve locally. Michael uses his skills to help fellow vets through his nonprofit organization, The Wingman Foundation. He was recently featured in the Silicon Valley Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 for his efforts.
Learn more about military veterans at Lam in this article, “From Military Pilot to Semi Equipment Production Planner.