Why You Should Find a Veteran-Focused Mentor
Trying to find a job without mentors is like building a raft out of your DD-214, christening it the USS Chance, and sailing into a maelstrom of generic advice, tired strategy, and minimum-wage goodwill.
Those looking to sail a truer course to Career Island with a sturdy ship and a full crew should consider finding a mentor (or several).
Here are five reasons you should consider tapping into a network of veteran-focused mentors:
1. Access well-curated information.
Bill Gates wrote, “How you gather, manage, and use information will determine whether you win or lose.” Many organizations intended to assist and support veterans offer real value, but sifting through them alone to find relevant resources is overwhelming and not a good use of your time. The right mentors can be your gateway to winning information.
2. Build your tribe.
Leaving the military to forge a new path is exciting, but many forward-thinking veterans tend to close the military chapter for good when they take off the uniform. In my opinion, this is a mistake. Live or online advice from those who have a similar base of shared experiences can boost your spirits, energize your search, and lead to professional alliances that will be mutually beneficial long after you’ve found the right career.
A caveat: pursue solution-focused groups. If you stumble into a group that focuses heavily on complaining or reminiscing, run. Such groups are the poisonous apples of the veteran community, and their culture of victimization is deeply ingrained. Connect yourself instead to groups that favor empowerment, accountability, and solutions.
3. Success through multipliers.
Jennifer Aeker, a professor at Stanford’s Graduate School of Marketing, advocates creating “multipliers” — that is, activities that align and execute multiple goals. Veteran-focused mentors not only know what your goals are, they understand your background and unique skill sets and how to translate them into language that employers will understand. Save yourself time and effort by tapping into the wisdom of successful folks who understand both you and the terrain ahead.
4. Link yourself to real opportunities.
The best professional networks are both cohesive and diverse, according to Reid Hoffman, co-founder and chairman of LinkedIn. Shared goals and belief systems are important, but so are new ideas and new blood. A diverse group of advisers, mentors, and peers who share enthusiasm for helping you establish yourself in the civilian workforce are great allies. The sum of this network represents opportunities that are much more tangible than those you see posted on job boards.
5. Lend a helping hand.
The healthiest relationships are about collaboration. As a member of a veteran-focused mentoring group, you are part of an ecosystem that can benefit tremendously from your unique experiences and perspectives. Speak up, get involved, and cheer your fellow veterans on! You don’t have to have it all figured out to mentor someone else.
Ready to find a community of mentors and advisers?
I recommend the following:
LinkedIn’s Veteran Mentor Network is a robust forum with more than 16,000 members. Their mission? To provide effective coaching, mentoring, and advice to military veterans. The group is big and growing quickly, but don’t worry about getting lost in the sauce. Typical threads receive 10+ helpful comments.
Branding itself as a career service for those who have served, Google’s VetNet offers webinars and well-curated resources across three tracks:
- Basic Training Track for those just beginning their job search.
- Career Connections Track for those looking to form connections with industry leaders and peers.
- Entrepreneur Track for veterans who intend to start their own companies. Partners include members from the public and private sectors. This is a resource that is actually helpful, reliable, and accessible, and I regularly check in for new classes on the Entrepreneur Track.
Facebook runs a little-known page called Veteran Resources. Many of the resources will probably look familiar, but the page differentiates itself by organizing information into three easy-to-navigate categories:
- Well Being & Resilience
- Employment & Education
My take? This is a great site to familiarize you with interesting veteran programs and groups. Grab a cup of coffee, and browse through it this weekend.
About the Author
Lydia Davey is an entrepreneur, published author, speaker and media relations pro. She is the Founder/CEO of Moriah Creatives PR, a fee-only public relations firm that pairs her team’s extensive journalistic experience with a strong understanding of the digital landscape to provide small businesses with fresh, intelligent ways to connect with their clients. Lydia served as a Marine sergeant for eight years. She deployed to Afghanistan in 2006, and has worked extensively throughout Africa, Asia and Europe. She applies leadership lessons learned in the service to today’s dynamic small-business terrain.
Military1 is a comprehensive military website that provides access to essential resources online for military personnel. Military1 features the most current news and analysis from experts in the military space, as well as providing members with resources for career progression, education, military benefits, off-duty information, product research and more.