Figuring out what to do next

After you leave the service you need to find something to do with the rest of your life.  Unless, of course, you are independently wealthy or have figured out how to live the life of Reilly on your pension.

Since most of us are in neither of those predicaments we have to decide what should come next in our lives.  There are many opportunities that veterans can pursue, such as an education, finding a trade, getting a job, or even moving back home with the parents.  Each opportunity has its allure, but other than moving back into your old room at your folk’s house they all involve a commitment to change your direction in life.

For some, going to college makes sense.  For others, pursuing a trade is a better idea.  For those with the pressing need for employment skipping an education and getting into the labor market is the right answer.

This post is for those veterans — the ones who need to get into the workforce as quickly as possible.

One of the most difficult parts of transition is finding a way to successfully bring your military skills into a civilian work environment.  One way that you can leverage your experience as a leader, manager, and technical expert is to determine what careers are best suited for your talents.  Another way to leverage them is to pursue practical training that will result in a certificate (as opposed to a college degree) that will prove your ability to perform in a business environment.

There are a lot of certificates out there, and a lot of agencies that offer them.  Some are tremendous opportunities and some are complete garbage, so you need to be very careful when you follow the certification path.  A friend of mine who is familiar with the certification process introduced me to UCLA’s Extension Certificate Program.

The program is an adult professional education opportunity for those people who are looking for specific training and education in a defined sector such as human resources, project management, global sustainability, nonprofit management, or one of the many others that they offer.

While this is not particularly groundbreaking (because lots of universities have adult professional education programs) I found one aspect of their model to be tremendously useful.  They offer an analysis tool on their website which can help you determine if a certificate program is for you, and in addition to help p0int you in the direction of the certificate best suited to your experience, learning style, and goals.

I surfed to their website (www.empowered.com) and took the assessment.  It took a few minutes, but once I was finished I learned that I was suited for project management.  It described what a project manager does and it all sounded interesting and right up my alley.  Although I am not personally looking for a PM certificate, the assessment was thorough and identified my strengths and talents.  Pretty neat, really.

So I recommend that you go to http://www.empowered.com and check it out.  There is no obligation, and you just may find something that interests you.  I learned a little about myself, and you will too — especially if you are looking to make yourself marketable in the corporate sector, where certificates are recognized and serve as a differentiator between job candidates.

Check it out- I did!

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