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Transitioning from the military to a civilian career is challenging. For one thing, the hierarchies, jargon and schedules are different. Transferable skills like leadership, teamwork, and critical problem-solving are there. But not all companies take the time to recognize them in a non-corporate form. Veterans often need support when taking this big step.
Hiring Our Heroes, a program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, is a nationwide initiative to help veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses find meaningful employment opportunities. It involves coaching, resume help, an introduction to civilian services, and weekly “huddles” with fellow participants, among other initiatives. More than 500,000 veterans and spouses have been hired to date.
Genesys has supported Hiring Our Heroes for several years, during which time we’ve hosted interns and hired new team members through the program.
Ivory Dugar served in the U.S. Army for 20 years before retiring from the military. After an internship, he joined Genesys as a Senior Solutions Consultant working in the Government Sector.
“Everybody in the military begins to wonder, as they near retirement, how difficult it will be to transition to civilian life,” said Dugar. “This program provides a bridge that helps us translate our skills and experience to the civilian sector.”
In Dugar’s case, Hiring Our Heroes helped him explore career opportunities beyond the obvious. “My position at Genesys, in Sales, is very different from the helicopter maintenance I did in the Army. The program helped me see not only that I had transferrable skills but that I had the aptitude to learn new things.”
Genesys has given him the space to transition.
“Everyone has really welcomed me and my background,” he added. “I’m looking at the world — and work — from a different perspective. And they’ve given me time to find myself. They’ve really embraced the values I bring.”
Dugar recognizes similarities between the culture in the military and at Genesys — where values like integrity, respect and loyalty are important.
Will Sutherland is interning at Genesys as he transitions out of the U.S. Army, where he has served for 10 years, including attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY. He’s also currently pursuing an MBA at Duke University.
At Genesys, Sutherland works in Public Sector Sales, a team led by David York, who attended the U.S. Air Force Academy.
“David can relate to the transition I’m going through,” explained Sutherland. “The entire team is very supportive.”
Sutherland shadows people across the Public Sector team to build his understanding of not only the company but also the business model, culture, structure and people. “It allows me to feel comfortable in this new role,” he said. “Everyone is helpful — even people I meet who aren’t on my direct team take the time to talk with me. That speaks volumes about the company.”
For Sutherland, it’s important to work somewhere that’s making a difference in the world. “It’s obvious to me that Genesys is making an impact,” he said.
He appreciates how Hiring Our Heroes and Genesys can make his transition less stressful.
“I have a family, including a two-year old,” he explained. “An opportunity like this takes a lot of stress off my shoulders because I know what to expect and feel more prepared to successfully step into a similar role upon transition. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity.”
Hiring Our Heroes eases the transition from military to civilian work for many veterans.
“Veterans sacrifice a lot to serve their country — and they can offer valuable experience and knowledge to a new role,” said Sutherland. “Companies that hire vets are serving their country as well, in my mind.”
“This program has given me an opportunity to continue to provide for my family and prove to myself that I can do other things,” added Dugar. “I’m very appreciative. Hats off to Genesys, which has done an awesome job to step up and sponsor veterans.”
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