Making the transition from the US military to the civilian sector can be intimidating. Textron Aviation shares how it is supporting the US Department of Defense (DoD) SkillBridge programme, striving to learn from participating military members and make the transition as smooth as possible.
The DoD SkillBridge programme gives US service members the opportunity to gain civilian work experience through specific industry training, apprenticeships or internships during the last six months of their active-duty service.
It also allows industries to compete for and capitalise on several highly sought-after skillsets – proven leadership experience, analytical reasoning skills, adaptability and an unbreakable commitment to teamwork.
Textron Aviation has been involved with the programme since 2019. The company was recently named an official DoD SkillBridge Authorized Organization.
“SkillBridge partners with private industries to help veterans find jobs, but also [enables]companies to find the workforce that they need for their industries,” said Matthew P Donovan, former Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.
Becoming a DoD SkillBridge Authorized Organization further enables Textron Aviation to offer real-world training and work experience to US service members transitioning to civilian life.
Applying military skills to an industry job
James (Jim) Noel, a United States Air Force (USAF) veteran and programme manager for Textron Aviation Defense, was the second DoD Skillbridge participant to work for Textron Aviation.
After 21 years in the USAF, Noel was ready to apply his skills learned in the military to an industry job. Having heard about the DoD Skillbridge programme from his peers, Noel researched companies with which he could explore a career through this means and found Textron Aviation in Wichita, Kansas.
“It almost seemed too good to be true, to be able to maintain active duty while gaining experience in a civilian job,” said Noel.
After completing the six-month programme, Noel accepted Textron Aviation’s offer to stay at the company as a full-time employee.
Jay Wall, a USAF veteran and customer service manager for Textron Aviation, said he learned how to translate from military to aviation jargon while in the internship programme.
Wall said the experience helped him understand the day-to-day processes and overall expectations of the job, so that when he got a full-time offer of employment, he knew what to expect in the civilian sector.
Transitioning to civilian life
Jessica Young, an E-7 sergeant in the USAF, a superintendent of operations and compliance for the 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron and leader of 24 logistics professionals, said it is important for companies to understand the complexities of transitioning from military to civilian life.
“When I began my Transition Assistance Program (TAP) at McConnell Air Force Base, Jennifer Barbour came out to speak as part of an employer panel and she gave me great advice and even helped me with my résumé,” said Young. “As I prepared for my transition, it was also important to me that the company understood the needs and requirements of transitioning members. For example, a gaining company and department have to present a training plan and understand that the member is transitioning, so they may have appointments they must keep. They are still an active-duty member, which means that they are on permissive Temporary Duty Assignment (TDY) and can be called back to the base for anything,” she said.
“Making the transition from the military can be scary, so I have made it my mission to coach and guide military members who are exploring a new career,” said Barbour, director of human resources at Textron Aviation.
Barbour is also a USAF veteran and made the transitional journey from the military into general aviation herself. “I look forward to growing our relationship with future military members and partnering with military bases and posts to explore employment opportunities for family members of active-duty personnel,” she said.
Growing the programme
To date, 13 members of the US military have interned at Textron Aviation and Textron Aviation Defense, over half of whom accepted full-time employment opportunities across the company. Textron Aviation is continuing to interview and onboard additional interns through the programme.
Active-duty personnel considering transitioning out of the military or preparing to retire from active duty are encouraged to learn more about DoD SkillBridge and its mission.