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Green to Grey: Guide to Your First Civilian Job

Transitioning from military service to civilian life can be challenging. One of the more difficult tasks is adjusting to corporate culture. All of it — the structure, the chain of command, and even interacting with teammates — is going to be different. Here are tips to help you make the transition from the service to the corporate life smoother.

Plan for Life After Service
One of the biggest benefits of being in the military is that you have ample time and opportunity to prepare for civilian life. So take time to carefully plan your next steps. Do you have an outdated certification? Upgrade it. Do you need to get up to date on emerging technologies, such as the cloud? Start learning. By researching what IT skills organizations are looking for, you can get a good idea of what IT training you should pursue — as well as which companies would be a good fit for you. Having a plan will make your transition that much smoother.

Establish a Routine
In terms of routine, serving in the military and working in IT appear to be on opposite ends of the spectrum. In fact, there’s not much that compares to the rigidness of military life. Meanwhile, working in IT requires a great deal of flexibility, whether you’re responding to a network outage or dealing with a non-tech-savvy member from another department. However, we still encourage developing some sort of routine to help you maintain a sense of familiarity. A suggestion: Create a workout routine — after all, IT pros can do a lot of sitting.

Know Your Environment

Congrats! You landed the IT job you wanted. Before you start, learn as much as you can about the organization, its culture, and the people who work there. At the very least, have a sense of what to expect during your first few days or weeks. For example, many IT environments tend to be quite casual. So, dressing formally as you did while in the service could come across as intimidating or off-putting. Remember, first impressions are important, so make sure you understand what your new office environment will be like and adjust accordingly.

Be Proactive, Not Passive

Your military experience provided you with valuable experience and insight. Use it to your advantage in your new IT role. Being responsive, efficient, and a problem solver is the norm for you. And guess what? People likely will be turning to you for help. If you have suggestions that can benefit your organization, whether they are about improving processes or reducing costs, share them. Your bosses should be open to your feedback, as long as it’s framed positively and delivered respectfully. After serving in the military, those two approaches should come naturally.

Stay Connected

You likely developed many strong friendships while in the service, ones that may last a lifetime. Don’t forget about your network of military buddies while you’re busy being social and making friends at your new job. You might want to lean on them as you make the transition to civilian IT circles. Much like our previous point about having a routine, staying in touch with your friends from the service can help you maintain familiarity.

Having a constant desire to learn and an ability to adapt quickly is crucial to being a successful IT professional. Technology evolves at a dizzying rate, so if training and keeping your skills up to date aren’t top priorities, you’ll likely struggle. However, you already know how to stay disciplined, keep focused, and move forward — all of which will help you when it comes to learning and adjust to life as an IT pro.

For more tips about transitioning to a civilian IT role, download our free Military to Civilian IT Pro Career Guide now!

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