From Military to Civilian Life: An Interview with Norwich Pro Graduate, Zach
Are you preparing to return to the civilian world after serving in the military? Learn how to leverage your military experience to fulfil corporate workforce expectations and get the job you want.
We talked to Zach, an active-duty soldier, a Group Assistant Operations Warrant Officer, and a Norwich Pro graduate who just completed his certificate for Project Management. Read more to learn about how Norwich helped Zach transition from the military to civilian life.
Q: How did you hear about Norwich Pro?
Zach: I graduated in 2017 from Norwich University’s Strategic Studies and Defense Analysis Program. As I started looking into transitioning out of the military, the Certificate of Project Management caught my attention because it fit with my experience and my interests. As a transitioning soldier, I’ve missed some of the professional certifications from the civilian side. This program was a perfect adjunct to bring me up to speed with the civilian sector.
Q: What was your experience like in the Norwich Pro Program?
Z: The classes were an effective mix of different types of content. The short videos allowed me to tackle the work on my schedule and continuously progress throughout the week. This flexibility helped me maintain a good work-life balance while I was in the program. On top of that, I had a weekly live interaction with the instructor to ask questions. The Norwich Pro instructors are knowledgeable professionals with real-world experience. In addition, I enjoyed learning from other students in the class, who were professionals from different locations around the globe. I learned a lot from their insightful questions and from collaborating with them live on discussion boards.
Q: How did Norwich Pro help you transition from your military role into the civilian world?
Z: Norwich Pro was instrumental in the ramp-up process to prepare me for moving into the corporate sector. It was invaluable in closing that gap from military life to civilian life because it allowed me to build the foundational blocks of understanding how the corporate world functions.
The best part for me, as a transitioning veteran, was to have direct contact with people outside of the military who were doing similar activities as I had been doing in the military, but who had a corporate background. Those interactions were very useful in helping me start to make that transition. In the military, we have a very specific way of talking and working through projects. While there are a lot of similar skills, not all of it directly translates over to the civilian world. Being able to look at a project tied to revenue, stakeholders, and timeline, while being surrounded by people who weren't coming from a military perspective was invaluable for me. It not only helped me get better at the project manager role but also helped me transition my thinking from the military to the corporate world.
From project management to data analytics and visualization, I believe that all certificates at Norwich Pro teach the skills that businesses are looking for and can leverage past military experience while doing so. With 20+ years of being performers in the military, you already bring a lot of these soft skills. Norwich Pro helped shape my skillset and connect the dots between my military experience and what employers are looking for. It bridged that gap.
Q: Why did you choose Norwich Pro?
Z: Participating in a certificate program shows that I'm actively trying to connect my military experience to a new role in the corporate world. Not only does it cut down some of the risks on the hiring process side, it also anchors you into starting to move that shift and do that discovery process. What are my skills and attributes? How do they pertain to the real world? And how do I leverage it? This program allowed me to focus and build a new framework around who I am and what I want to do.
I've been associated with Norwich for six years now. From the bachelor's program all the way through to Norwich Pro, it's been a great experience. First off, Norwich is very military friendly. I've taken courses from home and while I was deployed, and they've been very flexible in working through some emerging requirements that can get in the way. Norwich University and Norwich Pro are great at focusing on what's important, which is getting an education and becoming a better-prepared individual by completing these courses. I think Norwich Pro is a good option for anybody looking to make a pivot or interested in bettering their understanding of their chosen career field.
Q: How has this program affected your job search?
Z: During informational interviews and while interacting with hiring managers and HR, what I've found interesting is that nobody has really keyed in on bachelor's degree. Instead, I have had several people ask me about what I learned in the Norwich Pro project management course.
I believe that people are beginning to realize that a bachelor’s degree is the barrier to entry for many roles. It doesn't necessarily speak to your applicability or what value you bring to the opportunity. Employers want to know that you’re skilled and trained. Having a certificate speaks to that it. In the interview process, it shows you're immediately able to bring revenue and cut costs, and that's what’s important. You're able to bring value immediately—that’s what will help you get the job.
Not sure where to start on your path from the military to the civilian world? We’re here to support your professional development journey. Contact us today.