Op/Ed piece in the Union Tribune: Helping veterans transition into life sciences careers

I was fortunate to have an op/ed piece published in yesterday’s San Diego Union Tribune about helping veterans make the transition to life sciences careers, and I have reposted it below.  You can also read it here.

A healthy economy should provide opportunities for workers at all skill levels and at all stages of career development.

This includes the brave men and women of the military who have sacrificed so much for this country over more than a decade of war and global conflict.

American industry values workers who are at their best under pressure. These are the kind of people who can help a company grow and succeed.

And with the population of U.S. military veterans expected to rise by another 1 million over the next several years, we have a great asset before us ready to be unlocked to benefit the American economy.

This is particularly important in San Diego, one of the largest military cities in the United States — and the number one destination for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Unfortunately the transition back to civilian life can be difficult — particularly when it comes to re-entering the workforce, or in some cases entering it for the first time. Some veterans experience difficulty translating their military experience to civilian work. Others need guidance on job search skills like creating a resume and being prepared for interviews.

The good news: some of our fastest growing industries are in the best position to use the skills of returning military veterans. This includes the medical technology and biotechnology fields — both of which are experiencing spectacular growth and demand for new workers. One newly expanded initiative, called the MedTech and BioTech Veterans Program (MVP), was created specifically to connect companies in these industries with the workforce of military veterans.

MVP provides returning veterans with the resources, skills and confidence they need to achieve fulfilling careers in these fields, while also ensuring that potential employers have a diverse pool of talented employees from which to hire. These jobs — such as project managers, supply chain experts and human resources managers — don’t require an advanced STEM degree. But they do require a strong work ethic. People who can be part of a team, or lead one. People who make good decisions, while also being flexible. And people who — under some of the most difficult conditions you could imagine — are effective in new and different environments.

These qualities describe the successful American veteran.

In San Diego more than 240,000 veterans make up 13 percent of the city’s population. Close to 30,000 of them served in either Iraq or Afghanistan.

Veterans in San Diego — compared to the national average — also generally attain a higher level of education. A full 35 percent of San Diego area veterans hold a bachelor’s degree or higher; and 43 percent have at least some college experience or an associate degree.

As a veteran who has served overseas in a number of conflicts — including multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan — I understand the unique challenges that accompany the transition back to civilian life. These challenges are even more pronounced for younger veterans, many who have served this country in uniform for their entire adult lives and are accustomed to the formal, hierarchical structure of the military.

I’ve been at the receiving end of opportunities that have made it easier to successfully transition back to the civilian workforce. MVP seeks to ensure that returning military veterans have those same opportunities.

In San Diego on Saturday, MVP and Illumina will conduct a daylong, free event that includes seminars, working groups, and networking for mentors and veterans.

Since its inception in 2010, MVP has grown to include more than 150 veterans and 80 mentors through a program of active mentorship, job search training, and industry specific education.

In 2013 MVP’s founders recognized that it had the potential to grow from a regional initiative to a much larger national effort. As a result, MVP has now become an independent nonprofit entity charged with bringing 5,000 veterans into the life sciences industry by 2018, and 1,000 veterans per year after that — all funded by participating companies in the industry and at no cost to veterans.

More companies need to join this initiative. And other industries need to follow suit and begin making similar connections with the veteran workforce.

Our economy will be stronger as we bring more veterans into the fold. Let’s give them that opportunity.

Mike Grice, chief operating officer of the MedTech and BioTech Veterans Program (www.mvpvets.org)

A few thoughts on job and career fairs, part 3: Industry sponsored events

Job and career fairs are not all the same, and this is the third in a string of posts about the different types of transitioning military and veteran job and career fairs.  In the last post we explored fairs that focus on open events held on military bases, and in this post we will shift from military bases to industry sponsored events in which a specific company, group of companies, or an industry hosts an event that focuses on their specific area.

Industry specific opportunities are usually centered around providing insights for veterans and transitioning military into what businesses within the industry specialize in, such as manufacturing, oil and gas production, financial services, and healthcare.  They are usually held outside the realm of military bases at either a hosting company’s facility or a hotel or conference center.  There is usually no cost for transitioning military or veterans to attend, and often there are industry-centered orientation an training seminars offered during the event.  Since the seminars are hosted by companies or groups of companies, there are usually hiring managers present with job opportunities in hand that they want to fill with the veterans who participate in the seminar.

One example is the MedTech and BioTech Veterans Program (MVP), which conducts recareering seminars for veterans and transitioning military that are sponsored and supported by companies within the life sciences industry.  These events are held at sponsoring company headquarters or training centers, and offer an inside view of the hosting business and the larger industry, along with skills building training and mentorship.  MVP will be conducting two such events in New Jersey during the next two months, the first of which will be held at Ethicon, a Johnson and Johnson company on April 29th, 2014.  For more information, follow this link to the press release for the event, and it is republished below as well:

MedTech and BioTech Veterans Program Announces New Jersey’s First Veteran and Transitioning Military Re-careering Seminar

SOMERVILLE, N.J.April 2, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — On April 29th, the MedTech and BioTech Veterans Program(www.mvpvets.org) will host its inaugural re-careering event for transitioning military and veterans in New Jersey.  Military personnel in transition from service and honorably discharged veterans are invited to apply for the opportunity to participate in this free one day seminar that will include active one-on-one mentoring, industry specific training, eLearning enrollment, and personal engagement with hiring managers seeking to employ program participants.

The event brings veterans and transitioning military together with mentors from the medical technology industry while they participate in active sessions that include resume review and refinement, job interview training and rehearsals, creating a professional online presence in social media, and networking. Hiring managers from companies strongly desiring to hire transitioning military and veterans participate in the program as mentors, trainers, and interviewers.

The event on April 29 will be hosted by Ethicon, Inc., a global leader in the medical device industry, at their Somerville facility.

Participants will be able to submit their resumes for review and editing the week prior to the event so that they can be thoroughly prepared for submission to hiring managers. Additionally, each participant will be provided with personal business cards for use in networking and job-seeking.  Capacity for this event is 30 people maximum.

There is no cost for participating veterans and transitioning military.  All materials, breakfast, lunch, and parking are provided free of charge.  Transitioning military and veterans interested in participating in the program can apply at the MedTech and BioTech Veterans Program website (http://www.mvpvets.org/public-events/mentor-and-veteran-workshop-new-jersey/registration.html)

About the MedTech and BioTech Veterans Program (MVP):
The MedTech and BioTech Veterans Program is a nonprofit organization with the mission to bring 5,000 veterans and transitioning military into the Life Sciences by 2018.  Co-founded by  Abiomed (www.abiomed.com) and Zero Boundaries Global (www.zbglobal.com), MVP brings active mentorship together with an integrated collaborative online portal and eLearning from the Life Collaborative in a concerted effort to help those who have served the country in uniform re-career into meaningful and impactful careers in the MedTech, MedDevice, BioTech, Pharmaceutical, BioFuels, and Wireless Medical Technology sectors across a variety of corporate functional areas such as project management, supply chain, quality, and many others. http://www.mvpvets.org

 SOURCE MedTech and BioTech Veterans Program

(In the interest of full disclosure, I serve as the Chief Operating Officer for the MedTech and BioTech Veterans Program, which is a 501(c)3 fiscally sponsored nonprofit organization that aims to recareer 5,000 veterans and transitioning military into the life sciences by 2018)

A recareering opportunity for transitioning military and veterans

I have been fortunate to be able to help transitioning military and veterans since I made the jump from active duty back to the civilian world both through writing and in person.  It has been tremendously rewarding to help make the confusing and challenging journey that is transition less daunting, and now I am thrilled to be in a position to help literally thousands more find rewarding and meaningful career opportunities in the Life Sciences industry as was announced this week:

Medical Technology Veterans Program is renamed the MedTech and BioTech Veterans Program (MVP) and Expands Nationwide

– Offers Advanced Educational Resources and Training for Veteran Recruits

– New Web Portal Address: http://www.mvpvets.org

CARLSBAD, Calif., Feb. 5, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Medical Technology Veterans Program, renamed the MedTech and BioTech Veterans Program (MVP), has expanded nationwide and to industries across the life sciences. MVP is a career-training and mentorship program, designed to help veterans transition into jobs in the medical technology (medtech), biotechnology (biotech), life sciences and diagnostic industries. This successful program has expanded nationwide to offer customized educational programs aimed at preparing veterans for impactful and meaningful employment as professionals in the life sciences. As part of this expansion, the new MVP web portal will now be located at http://www.mvpvets.org.

Foundational partners of MVP, including heart pump manufacturer, Abiomed, Inc., and medical device trade association AdvaMed, will also welcome a new partner, BioCollaborative, to assist in reaching additional veterans from around the country and providing cutting edge industry-focused training. With its expertise in developing and administering customized eLearning platforms, BioCollaborative is an ideal partner to assist in equipping job-seeking veterans with pragmatic learning solutions necessary to succeed in the job market.

“This expansion and new partnership will enable us to reach more veterans and mentors from all over the country and provide quality training and mentorship for our service men and women who are looking to build a career in the life sciences and medical technology industries,” said Michael Minogue, Chief Executive Officer of Abiomed and MVP Chairman. “I am also excited to introduce MVP’s new President, Mike Grice, a veteran with a 27-year career in the United States Marine Corps. and a former professor at National University, a great fit for the program.”

MVP, which launched in 2012, recognizes the strong correlation between the mission of the medtech and biotech industries and those veterans who wish to pursue careers in the life sciences. The program applies to all military veterans, with special recognition to those who have served since 9/11 and those wounded overseas.

Participants interact with mentors, who are industry professionals and veterans that have already transitioned into successful civilian roles at medtech or biotech companies. Mentors represent job functions ranging from sales and customer support to operations, human resources, manufacturing and R&D, as well as C-level executives at leading medical device and life sciences companies who will provide advice and guidance throughout the transition process. The United States is a global leader in both the medical device and biotech industries, which directly and indirectly supports millions of jobs across the United States and overseas.

“We look forward to increasing the number of veterans and mentors registered on the MVP web portal, with the goal of reaching 5,000 veterans by 2018,” said Mike Grice. “The program’s increased sophistication and customized training will enable more touch points and hands-on training for MVP veterans to learn real-world skills in our industries, including the implementation of regional and state-based training programs.”

In addition to the web portal and online educational programs, which result in industry-recognized certifications, MVP will also host regional events for veterans and mentors to connect, mentor training and networking. Members will also gain access to the online learning and collaboration community for jobseekers known as JobFastPass. The new web portal (www.mvpvets.org) includes a database of veterans’ resumes that are exclusive to partnering companies, as well as a series of webinars which are free to veterans and mentors. The webinar topics include careers in the medtech and biotech industries, social media networking, personal branding, as well as creating high-impact resumes.

To register for the MVP program as either a mentor or veteran jobseeker, please go to http://www.mvpvets.org. If you are already a member of the MVP program and have questions about this new expansion, please contact Mike Grice at mgrice@mvpvets.org.

You can access the press release here.

If this looks like something that you would be interested in, please check out the website: www.mvpvets.org or shoot me an email!