Transitioning from College to Career: A Veteran’s Guide 

Embarking on a new career after military service and college education presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities. Veterans, equipped with discipline, resilience, and a host of transferable skills, are well-positioned to make a significant impact in the civilian workforce. This article outlines strategic steps to help veterans navigate their transition from college to a fulfilling career, leveraging their unique experiences and skills. 

Understanding the Value of Your Military Experience 

The first step in your transition is recognizing the immense value of your military experience. The skills and attributes honed in the military, such as leadership, adaptability, teamwork, and dealing with high-pressure situations, are in high demand in the civilian job market. Articulating these skills in civilian terms on your resume and in interviews is crucial. Consider how your role in the military contributed to larger objectives, and translate these accomplishments into skills applicable to the civilian workplace. Leadership, for example, can be demonstrated through your ability to manage teams, coordinate projects, and inspire others towards achieving common goals. 

Education to Career Pathway 

Your college education provides a solid foundation for your career. Align your academic pursuits with career goals by selecting majors or courses that enhance your desired career path. Utilize career services offered by your college to explore options where your military experience and education intersect, creating a compelling case for potential employers. Internships and part-time roles related to your field of study can provide valuable real-world experience and a foot in the door. 

Building a Professional Network 

Networking is a powerful tool in the job search process. Start by connecting with fellow veterans who have transitioned into civilian roles, as they can provide guidance and potential job leads. Join veteran associations, LinkedIn groups, and attend industry networking events. Remember, networking is about building relationships over time, so be genuine and consider how you can also support others in their career journey. 

Resume and Interview Preparation 

Your resume is often the first impression a potential employer has of you. Highlight both your military service and educational achievements, focusing on transferable skills and how they apply to the job you’re seeking. In interviews, prepare to discuss your military experiences in a way that resonates with civilian employers, emphasizing teamwork, leadership, and adaptability. Practice answering common interview questions with a friend or mentor, and prepare questions that demonstrate your interest in the role and company. 

Identifying and Targeting the Right Job Opportunities 

Use job search platforms, veteran employment services, and your network to identify opportunities that align with your skills and interests. Be selective and apply for positions where you can genuinely see yourself thriving. Tailor your resume and cover letter for each application, emphasizing how your unique combination of military experience, education, and skills makes you the ideal candidate. 

Continued Learning and Skill Development 

The learning shouldn’t stop with your college degree. Stay competitive in the job market by pursuing additional certifications, workshops, or training relevant to your desired career. Many organizations offer professional development opportunities specifically for veterans, which can also be a great way to expand your network. 

Self-Care and Mental Health 

Transitioning to a civilian career can be challenging, both mentally and emotionally. Recognize that it’s normal to feel uncertain during this period and seek support when needed. Many resources are available for veterans, including counseling services and support groups, which can provide guidance and a sense of community. 


The transition from college to a civilian career is a journey of self-discovery and growth. By understanding the value of your military experience, leveraging your education, and utilizing the resources available to you, you can navigate this transition with confidence. Remember, you’re not alone—there’s a community of veterans and professionals eager to support you in your career journey. Embrace your unique background and look forward to the many opportunities that await you in the civilian workforce. 

By Donnell Turner
Donnell Turner Director of Inclusive Career Development