Transition Summit provides road maps for new careers

| October 12, 2017 | 0 Comments

Medal of Honor recipient and retired Marine Dakota Meyer delivered the opening address at the Transition Summit, Wednesday, at the Sgt. Smith Theater. (U.S. Army photo by Karen A. Iwamoto, Oahu Publications)

Story and photos by
Karen A. Iwamoto
Staff Writer

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — The 2017 Transition Summit wrapped up, here, on Thursday with a hiring fair attended by hundreds of Soldiers and representatives from hundreds of Hawaii and mainland companies.

Over the course of the three-day summit, which was sponsored in part by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Military Officers Association and the USO, transitioning Soldiers, veterans and family members got to hear from and meet with industry experts in the fields of health care, information technology, education and more.
The purpose of the summit was to give Soldiers who are leaving military service a leg up in launching their civilian careers.

Owning the transition process
Seminars and workshops began on Tuesday and the summit officially opened at the Sgt. Smith Theater on Wednesday with a keynote speech by Medal of Honor recipient and Marine veteran Dakota Meyer.

“Transitioning is tough,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in four years or if you’ve been in 30 years. Transitioning is still tough. What I’m going to tell you, though, is you have everything that you need to do it. You just have to do it. You have to own your transition.”

Victoria Roland, an Army spouse and Transition Education counselor at Schofield Barracks’ Army Education Center, speaks at the Military Spouse Professional Development Symposium, Tuesday, at the Nehelani. Roland was one of the “Real Spouses: Real Stories” panelists at the symposium. Pictured with her, from left to right, are Tammi Tiefel, a Navy spouse and Work and Family Life consultant at Pearl Harbor’s Military Service Center; Michelle Kotulski, a Marine spouse and professional graphic designer; and Leigh Tingle, a Marine spouse and a Continuing Education Coordinator at a community college. (U.S. Army photo by Karen A. Iwamoto, Oahu Publications)

“Before I came (to the event) I was nervous,” Sgt. 1st Class Natascha Gaddis admitted. “But I left feeling motivated.”

Gaddis, the non-commissioned officer in charge of Tripler Army Medical Center’s Orthopedic Department, is preparing to transition from a 20-plus career in the Army. She said she was taking the transition seriously and planned to attend as many of the Transition Summit events as possible.

She attended the Afterburner Military Transition Seminar on Tuesday as well as the Career Connection & Resume Engine Workshop and LinkedIn Workshop on Wednesday.

“I went through the Soldier for Life class but that was kind of rushed,” she said. “Here, they put everything in perspective. It kind of softens the blow (of transitioning).”

Recognizing service members’ value
She said she appreciated the way the Afterburner instructors, David MacEwen, a retired Army brigadier general, and David “Finch” Guenthner, an Air Force veteran, shared examples from own lives to make their transitions relatable to transitioning Soldiers.
Afterburner Inc. was created to teach corporate clients the planning and strategy techniques used by elite military teams to help them boost their companies’ performance. It has worked with Fortune 500 companies and the NFL, but its CEO, Jim Murphy, realized that there was a need to help service members transition to the civilian sector.

“People in the corporate world love learning and applying the methods used by the military,” Guenthner said. “The (service members) don’t always recognize the value they bring just by having (the military) experience they have.”

This was a theme echoed throughout the Transition Summit.

“There’s a reason why employers came all the way out here to Hawaii and it’s not because they want to hang out at the beach,” said Chuck Hodges, an Army veteran and the senior director of Events & Programs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes, who led the Career Connection & Resume Engine and LinkedIn workshops at the Transition Summit. “They’re here because they want to hire you.”

Military spouses asked questions and gained valuable career advice during Military Spouse Professional Development Symposium, Tuesday, at the Nehelani. It was one of several events that were part of the three-day Transition Summit. (U.S. Army photo by Karen A. Iwamoto, Oahu Publications)

Empowering military spouses
Service members aren’t the only ones facing career challenges. It can be difficult for military spouses to start and maintain careers while balancing deployments, permanent change of station moves and family life.

The Transition Summit’s Military Spouse Professional Development Symposium, held Tuesday at the Nehelani, was targeted specifically to them.

About 100 spouses got to hear five working military spouses who offered encouragement and feedback during the “Real Spouses: Real Stories” panel. They also heard from a professional recruiter and talent-sourcing agent, learned resume-writing tips and got networking advice.

“It’s such an awesome opportunity to around so many other military spouses,” said Bridgette Patterson, an Army spouse and a chapter director with Blue Star Families. “It was such an empowering feeling being able to network with other spouses.”

Army spouse Alex White, who is preparing to PCS with her husband after a year-and-a-half in Hawaii, agreed. “It was definitely empowering to know I’m not alone.”

Job-hunting tips
•Cater your resume to the job you’re applying for.
•Always be networking. Most job offers come as a result of networking.
•Practice your elevator speech, a brief pitch that tells potential employers who you are and what you offer their company.
•Keep your social media presence professional.

Job-hunting resources
•LinkedIn offers veterans a free upgrade to premium services. Visit
•Resume Engine cuts down the amount of time it takes to craft a resume by translating service members’ military experience into civilian skills. Visit
•My Career Spark provides a plethora of information for military spouses. Visit
•The Hiring Our Heroes website helps connect service members, veterans and families to potential employers. Visit










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