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5 tips to support your transition from the armed forces to corporate life

May 27, 2021 / Global

If you’re considering making the jump from the armed forces to the corporate world, you’re in the right place. My name is Michael Pett. I’m a retired, disabled veteran of the US Army and Army National Guard and I lead Uber’s Military and Veteran’s Programs. In 2014, I made the jump from ROTC Cadre to recruiting military veterans and spouses to join the consulting industry. Today, I help veterans and partners from the armed forces, probably like yourself, find the next chapter of their careers here at Uber. 

I recently sat down with 5 current and former service members and partners from across Uber for a candid discussion about their experiences, career paths, and transitions to the corporate world. During our conversation, we deep-dived into what it’s like to be an Uber employee from the armed forces community and how you can take skills from your service into the workforce. Read on to learn our panelists’ experiences and tips: 

Skills needed to thrive in the armed forces strongly overlap with those need to succeed in corporate life

Day-to-day experiences of serving in the armed forces and working at Uber may look different, but the skills needed to embrace those experiences are the same. That begins with the ability to manage through ambiguity––something we experience all the time here at Uber as we expand product offerings or launch new businesses. As an Intelligence Analyst in the US Army, Carlos Henriquez was often presented with a problem to solve without all the information he needed to do so. That translates especially well to his current role as a Software Engineer for Uber’s Money team where he’s “presented with a technical problem and has to use different resources to go from point A to B without having the clearest picture.” 

It also means being able to prioritize what’s important, staying calm in stressful situations, and using teamwork to succeed. “This is particularly helpful in a fast-paced environment, such as Uber which is continually growing. You have to decide things quickly and make decisions, sometimes in high stakes situations,” shares Axel del Lago, a former member of the French military and now a Compliance SME on Uber’s Mobility team. “And no matter how skilled you are in a specific area––whether it’s people management or SQL, you will always need to rely on others at some point.”

Find a company that supports your commitments, whatever capacity you may be serving in 

We know that many members of the armed forces are in the Reserves or National Guard and need to spend time fulfilling those commitments at weekend drills or annual training. In addition to offering unlimited vacation for full-time employees, Uber has a military time off policy and veterans can be assured that their job security is unaffected by their armed forces obligations. “I have people at Uber, like our veterans Employee Resource Group (ERG) and my manager, who understand and allow me to balance my military and Uber careers,” shares Carlos. 

This network of fellow veterans, veteran partners, supportive managers, and engaged global teammates is also critical to helping armed forces veterans transition to corporate life. When I left active duty and joined my first corporate role, I suffered from imposter syndrome because tools to ease my transition and adapt to corporate life simply weren’t there. There was no ERG, program, or policies available to me. I’m proud that Uber provides this support and partnership, and Lisa Stoner, a military partner and Senior Director of Community Operations at Uber, shares that you should make finding a company that does too a priority: “Make sure you research a company and find out if they have programs and networks to support veterans and partners.”

Start preparing your transition to corporate life before you leave the armed forces 

There’s a lot you can do even before you leave the armed forces as a veteran or partner to set yourself up for success to get your next role. Lisa suggests starting by building your network––creating a Linkedin and adding connections––who you can look to when the time comes. “Be helpful and you will be helped,” she says. “Work on your elevator pitch––your story in three minutes––and when describing your experiences, use language anyone can understand to translate your experiences.” Christine Stout, a Director of HR at Uber, whose partner is just leaving the military after 30 years of service, suggests thinking ahead and making a plan about what’s really important in the next phase of your career. “Do you want to continue to build the relationships and skills that you’ve been working on or do you want to do something completely different, something that’s a passion of yours you haven’t had time to pursue yet?” 

As an armed forces partner, your career shouldn’t take a back seat

Many partners prioritize co-locating with their armed forces partners, so it’s important that your company supports mandatory geographic twists and turns, and that they won’t impact your career progression. Christine met her Active Duty Naval Commander husband later in life and found that his full deployments were easier to deal with than knowing that he could be called away at any time: “Previously in my career, I worked for a very supportive company that allowed me to work from the East Coast in order to be co-located with my husband. So I’ve made it my mission at subsequent companies that I’ve worked for to actually try to affect change, and being in the human resource space, I’ve been able to do that.” Uber is a global company with offices around the world that make it easy to work practically anywhere. 

Lean into support from Employee Resource Groups (ERG), like Uber’s Veterans ERG 

Community matters. For support, advice, and driving change. Uber’s Veterans ERG is a global network that facilitates veteran outreach, camaraderie, and mentorship opportunities around our community. We raise awareness within the company about our veterans, their issues, and contributions to the company. And equally important, we drive change where we need it. Whether it’s creating more supportive policies for our armed forces community or driving inclusive perspectives as business decisions are made. It’s critical that you join a company where veterans, partners, and people from any experience alike have a seat at the table. Magalie Blanchet, an Executive Assistant based in Paris and partner to a member of the French Air Force, shared that the community she’s received from the Veterans at Uber ERG has meant everything to her: “I feel at home in our veterans community at Uber and I’ve learned so much.”

If you’re leaving the armed forces soon, or just planning for the future, I hope you’ll consider Uber as an employer of choice. You can learn more about our Veterans at Uber ERG and explore our open roles. If you’d like to speak with me personally, don’t hesitate to reach out on LinkedIn or join our Veterans LinkedIn Group.