Job fair helps service members land dream career

| May 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

 

 

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Sarah Pacheco
Staff Writer
JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM — “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Remember hearing this question in elementary school and then immediately fantasizing about some far-off future career as a firefighter, an astronaut or a member of the X-Men?

While some dream jobs may never come true — as of press time, there have been no reports of anyone developing super-human abilities — others are far more obtainable than ever, especially for Soldiers gearing up to transition from military life back into the civilian world.

In response to the upcoming involuntary separation programs instated by both the Army and Air Force, the Army Career Alumni Program (ACAP) and the Joint Employment Management System (JEMS) have joined forces to host a special job fair, here, May 16, to assist service members affected by the drawdown.

“This is a team effort between the Army, Navy and Air Force,” said Charlene Shelton, transition services manager, Directorate of Human Resources, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii.

“This is not a normal job fair for us; it’s an extra one we’re doing directly in response to the downsizing,” Shelton explained. “It’s going to be a little bit smaller than our normal job fairs (held in September), but hopefully all of the employers will be hiring now or they have openings now to hire our military personnel.”

To reach an end-strength of 490,000 Soldiers by the end of fiscal year 2015, a new plan, announced last year, requires the Army to reduce its active force by nearly 42,000 Soldiers over the next year. Of that number, nearly 4,000 will be mid-career officers — captains and majors — who will be notified beginning this month.

“When the services do something like this, you’ve got six months (to get out), and that scares me,” said Susan Hodge, director, JEMS, Military and Family Support Center, Navy Region Hawaii.

“We’re concerned, because once they find out, it’s going to be too late (to dedicate time to finding a job),” agreed Shelton. “They’re going to be too busy trying to figure out what they’re going to be, where they’re going to move, what about their family. … That’s why we want all the captains and majors who think they fall within that criteria to be reviewed for early release to come to the ACAP transition services.”

Based both at Schofield Barracks and Fort Shafter, ACAP delivers a world-class transition program that empowers Soldiers to make informed career decisions and capitalize on their Army experience and skills to find a job best suited for them, post-service.

Traditionally, Soldiers are advised to contact ACAP no later than two years prior to retirement and no later than 18 months prior to their expiration term of service (ETS); however, due to the drawdown, Soldiers may have as little as two or three months to prepare themselves, and their families, for this major life change.

“If they’ve been in 10, 12, 15 years, and they have to get out now, all of a sudden, that can be extremely stressful,” said Shelton.

ACAP helps ease this separation anxiety by providing Soldiers with the following services:
•Mandatory preseparation counseling;
•Individual counseling and employment assistance;
•Resume writing;
•Interviewing skills;
•Salary negotiation;
•Special employment assistance workshops and events;
•Department of Labor (DOL) three-day Transition Assistance Program (TAP) Employment Workshop (offered at the Schofield Barracks ACAP Center only, due to space availability);
•Monthly Veterans Affairs benefits and disability briefings;
•TRICARE and Social Security disability briefings; and
•Financial planning workshops and personal counseling.

“People in the military have probably never interviewed for a job, and definitely not negotiated for a salary or written a resume,” Hodge said.

“And that’s why it’s important for Soldiers to come early on, identify what they’re qualified to do and what they can do with their training from the military,” Shelton said. “Then, they can go right into the DOL workshops, because now they have their resume geared toward whatever they want
to be.”

As mandated by the Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) Act, these training requirements must be completed prior to separation from the Army, and an Army Transition Program Exit Survey must be completed prior to issuance of clearance papers.

In addition, Soldiers are recommended to have a final resume and at least one of the following transition products upon separation:
•A letter of acceptance from a college or university,
•A job offer, or
•A list of job openings the Soldier can qualify for.
“When they get out, they’re making decisions on their own,” Shelton said. “We want them to be operant, to be thinking, ‘Okay, what is it that I have to do to be successful.’ It’s a lot of decision making that they’re not used to.”

Crucial to the transition process, according to both Shelton and Hodge, is the one-on-one time separating service members receive with a counselor, who will help them set goals, answer questions, refer them to the appropriate service needed and sign them up for mandatory workshops.

In addition, ACAP centers regularly post job announcements and provide books, computers and other resources pertinent to the job-finding process.

“We also encourage spouses to participate in ACAP,” Shelton said. “Transition is a team-of-two decision, and it would reduce the stress of this early release if the spouses jumped in. If at any time, it’s now that we need the spouses.”

ACAP is a commander’s program, and commanders at all levels of the Army are directed to embrace transition policies and encourage greater participation by Soldiers by actively ensuring their Soldiers (both AC/RC) begin transition no later than 12 months from their scheduled departure from the Army and continue their participation in ACAP until they are discharged.

“The leadership needs to give their Soldiers the appropriate time they need to get out,” Shelton said. “If you only give them 30 days to take these courses, they’re going to be gone almost every day of the week during that 30-day period. But if you start them (in the ACAP program) 12 to 18 months out, then the Soldiers won’t be away from the unit as much.”

“And this is all mandated by the Department of Defense,” Hodge added. “This isn’t just us trying to punish; this is required.”

“It’s not just the command — it’s the Soldiers, the Airmen, the Sailors … they have to take initiative and step up to the plate, as well,” Shelton said.

“If you take the class and you do the reviews and the resumes and the budgets, and you stay in (the service), then what’s the harm?” said Hodge.

“These programs are to help service members make an informed decision,” agreed Shelton. “There’s so much information that we have in our program that even if they have to get out, they’re still making informed decisions on where they want to go, what kind of jobs they can do, how much money they need to make.

“Be proactive,” Shelton concluded. “It’s important.”

Transitional Training
New timelines apply for transitional training prior to a Soldier’s separation. See ACAP VOW Checklist and Transition “Not Later Than” Timeline under the “Resources” tab of the ACAP homepage at www.acap.army.mil.

ACAP locations
The Schofield Barracks Army Career and Alumni Program office is in the Soldier Support Center, Bldg. 750, Room 134. Hours of operation are 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday-Friday. Call 655-1028, ext. 5.
Fort Shafter’s ACAP office is located in the Aloha Center, Bldg. S330, Rm. 110. Hours of operation are 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Mondays-Wednesdays and Fridays; and 1-4 p.m., Thursdays. Call 438-9735.
To learn more about the ACAP program, “like” the Schofield Barracks ACAP page on Facebook or visit www.acap.army.mil.

Upcoming Events
The Army Career Alumni Program/Joint Employment Management System Job Fair is scheduled for 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m., May 16, at the Makai Recreation Center, Bldg. 1859, 1859 McChord St., Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, with employment, technical entrepreneurship and education opportunities for Army and Air Force service members who are being involuntarily separated or retired due to the drawdown.
Among the nearly 35 participating companies and agencies are the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, Bank of Hawaii, Diagnostic Laboratory Services Inc., Edward Jones, HFM Food Service, Hawaii Telcom, Safeway, Troops to Teachers and United Airlines, to name a few.
“We have a mixture of local companies that are hiring and then also companies that represent jobs on the mainland and internationally,” said Susan Hodge, director, JEMS, Military and Family Support Center, Navy Region Hawaii.
“We try to get that mix because we know so many people want to go back to the mainland, but then there is also a pretty good number (of service members) who want to stay (in Hawaii),” Hodge added. “I’m really happy with the mix of companies.”
While the job fair primarily is being held to assist Army and Air Force members, everyone in possession of a base pass, including spouses, retirees and veterans, is invited to attend.
ACAP’s and JEMS’s respective job fairs will still be held in September.
Also, the Schofield Barracks ACAP center has weekly workshops scheduled throughout the remainder of the month.
For details and updated information on any of these events, visit
www.garrison.hawaii.army.mil/acap/default.htm.

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