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Know Yourself First

By Kathleen Brill
Special to washingtonpost.com
Monday, July 19, 2004; 4:45 PM

Creative thinking can uncover a surprising range of career paths after the military.

"It's the skills you have that are going to get you the job," says Janet Giles, Transition Assistance manager at Dahlgren Navy Base in Dahlgren, Va.

Military people often become teachers, sales executives, managers or consultants when they enter civilian life. But the options are broader for those who embrace change. "People who have international experience sometimes enter the business of imports or exports," Giles says. "If you don't like it, it's not like being in the military. You can always make a change."

Transitioning from the military is an excellent time to assess individual strengths, weaknesses and interests, says Derrick Dortch, a Georgetown University career counselor. He advises people to use resources available at Transition Assistance Programs, on the Internet and in their communities.

Some transitions lead to jobs that correspond closely to former military roles, says Dortch. For example, someone from the infantry may be interested in law enforcement or security; a pilot might stay in the aviation industry, and an administrator could find similar positions in the civilian job market.

Those who miss the military once they leave "can always join the Reserves," Dortch says.

People who aren't sure when would be the right time to leave the military may also work with their local Transition Assistance Program to assess the decision more thoroughly, says Govinia Harris, program manager of TAP workshops in Fort Meade, Md.

Editor's note: This article by Kathleen Brill, was first acquired by washingtonpost.com on February 26, 2003.

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