So you are beginning your transition but appear to have hit a stumbling block before you even get out of the gate - you are assigned somewhere other than where you want to be once you leave the military. Don’t panic, it happens to a lot of veterans. While it may be difficult, it can be done. Set yourself up for success by learning the art of distance networking and put it into practice.
First, start by borrowing the manta of the environmental movement - Think Globally, Act Locally. Once you have figured out what you want to do when you get there and the list of potential employers, start reaching out to those where you are currently assigned. Building your network locally through informational interviews and networking events can pay dividends in opening doors where you want to be. Your local network may be able to establish connections elsewhere. Ifyour local contacts are notwell connected to their counterparts in the area you want to be, connecting locally will help you to better understand the company’s culture. Additionally, they may be able to assist once you submit an application for a position in the company. The connections you make at your current location can help you identify items that may make you more marketable, such as professional certifications, to add to your resume before you begin to actively see a position in the company at your final destination. There is value in building a local network, but it is only the first step.
Next, look for opportunities to network where you want to end up and put those on your calendar. One transitioning veteran I know set time in his transition, using his authorized permissive TDY, to schedule trips across the country to attend networking and hiring events in the area he wanted to be in order to build his network. Traveling to a job fair or veteran friendly event in the area takes a little planning, but it can pay huge dividends to help you secure a job when you arrive. And don’t forget about industry conferences or trade shows – just some of the other possible opportunities. The same veteranalso scheduled time to conduct informational interviews while he was there, based on connections he had leveraged elsewhere. So, think about scheduling time in you plan to conduct informational interviews with contacts in the area once you arrive. These may take some time to establish, so you might need to plan for a follow up trip to leverage the connections you make initially. If you start early enough and build timeinto your transition plan to attend events in the area, you will be well on your way to success.
It can seem daunting to find a new position in a location far from your current duty station, but it doesn’t have to be. By Thinking Globally, Acting Locally and planning ahead, you can overcome many of the obstacles presented by the distance. Start early by building your local connections, look for ways to leverage your network to establish connections where you want to be and plan to travel to future events in the area to set yourself up for success in civilian life. With a little prior planning, you will be able to overcome the difficulties and successfully manage your transition to a new location.