Accepting an internship or an entry level position may be a great way to get your foot in the door – a key step on any career path. This can be especially true if you have limited professional experience, certifications or advanced training in the chosen industry or sector.
A recent Military.com article by Sara McNamara offers a comprehensive look at how some companies have integrated post-military interns into their workforce. She notes that since veterans hail from a vastly different organizational culture, any program designed to posture the intern and the company for success must incorporate “leadership endorsement, workforce engagement, resource allocation and cross-cultural education.”
Whether you’re a military intern who is getting the above-and-beyond treatment outlined in this piece, or you’re in a new organizational culture finding it hard to adjust, there are things you can do to ease your transition into the civilian workspace. Here are a few to consider:
1. Observe and listen. There may be some similarities with the military, but there will be some big differences, too. It is important for you to figure out how to fit in. Pay attention to your wardrobe and match with proper attire.
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2. Keep an open mind. Watch how business is done in the organization. Take notes and ask questions.
3. Manage expectations. Meet with your immediate supervisor and understand his or her expectations. Identify one or two promising opportunities and focus on relentlessly translating them into wins.
4. Communicate effectively. Practice active listening, stay away from military acronyms, and avoid jumping in with your opinion or giving unsolicited advice.
5. Know how to network. Begin building relationships with seniors, peers, and key external players to help facilitate your assimilation into the company and the team.
6. Show enthusiasm. Pitch in where you can to support the company and your peers, even if it involves tasks that aren’t part of your job description.
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MOAA Senior Digital Content Manager Kevin Lilley contributed to this article.