Much like transitioning from the service to being a civilian, the key to a successful transition from student veteran to an employee is knowing the resources available to you and taking advantage of them. There are resources available to all students, such as college advisors and career centers, but veteran-specific resources help ease the transition from student to employee.
Student veteran organizations (SVOs) are a way to contact fellow veterans and increase your network. University-based organizations are often one of the first that student veterans interact with on campus. From providing students a place on campus to network and decompress to helping with questions about educational benefits, SVOs can be a great starting point for veterans getting ready to graduate. There are also organizations beyond those local to your campus, and often may be more tailored to your career goals. Some of the organizations, like the Society of American Military Engineers, may comprise fellow veterans. In contrast, others like the Public Relations Society of America have membership programs designed specifically for veterans. Research your chosen field to find what organizations are out there and what programs you might qualify for.
Another way to find organizations that you might be interested in is through networking. LinkedIn offers a year of its premium service free for veterans, and many people are willing to help if you are eager to ask. Be sure to search not just for people you want to connect with, but organizations and support groups that can support your transition.
You can also search companies that interest you for recruiters that specialize in hiring veterans or are veterans themselves or find a mentor to help you navigate the job search process and figure out what next steps work best for you. Veterati is a mentorship platform that allows veterans to meet as many mentors as they want across a wide variety of fields and geographic locations. Mentors can help with anything from higher education to transitioning to careers and more. You can find mentors that will help you navigate not only the job search process but provide information about fields and companies you may be interested in.
Attending hiring events and conferences is another way to connect with companies and people as you prepare for graduation. After you have identified a company or several companies you are interested in, the next step is to find ways to meet with different people in the company either in person or virtually. Company event pages can provide you with opportunities to meet with recruiters both face to face and virtually, as well as provide insight into where the company goes when looking for new employees.
You can also use the other companies attending the conference to find other companies you may be interested in. Hiring Our Heroes holds events specifically designed to connect veterans, active-duty service members, and military spouses with different companies. They also have information sessions and virtual events to help job seekers better prepare for finding a job.
Lastly, as you prepare for your graduation remember to reflect on how your military experience sets you up for success in your desired field. While you will have the technical skills you learned in college, you should also think about how the technical skills you learned during your time in service correlate to the fields and positions you are interested in. Further, highlight soft skills, like problem-solving, leadership, and communication, all of which are integral parts of a service member's career. Be sure to check out the Resume Links for Veterans post on this site for more information about how to include both your hard and soft skills and craft the ideal resume to get the job you want.