Attitude And Education

KENNESAW STATE UNIVERSITY

www.ccpe.kennesaw.edu/student-resources/military

The College of Continuing and Professional Education at Kennesaw State University (KSU) offers more than 50 professional certificate courses along with more than 350 online programs. The college has more than 50 employees and an operating budget of $5 million. KSU is located in Kennesaw, Georgia, about 25 miles north of Atlanta.

On average, the college offers more than 2,500 courses and serves nearly 20,000 students annually. Additionally, nearly 50,000 people attend meetings or conferences yearly at KSU Center. The college’s Military Benefits Program offers 30 professional certificate programs approved for VA Education Benefits. Over the past two years, more than 50 servicemembers have taken advantage of these benefits through the college. Course subjects include accounting, computers and technology, healthcare, hospitality, human resources, teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL), management, and paralegal.


A VETERAN SUCCESS | LARRY HOLT

Larry Holt served as an intelligence officer in the United States Army for 18 years, achieving the rank of major. His duties included explosive ordnance disposal, chemical defense, signals, maintenance, and supply. Since 2014, he has been an instructor for the Professional Certificate in Information Systems Security program.

While in the military, Holt took classes to help him in the service and after he left the Army. “In 1986, mobile/laptop computers began to be used in the Army,” he said. “In 1992, I was assigned as an ISS Officer – my first security position. In preparation for retirement, I took evening extension classes at Clayton State in Georgia, and then passed my first IT certification – which was in system administration. In 2009, I finished my MIS degree at KSU. The master’s program was useful in that it filled in the holes from my very informal IT education.”

Holt’s military attitude and education put him above other candidates when he left the military. But he found that just dressing professionally can make the difference. “My first IT job interview was to repair PC’s for Delta,” he said. “There were many other candidates, but I was the only one in a suit.” Should veterans seek civilian work that is similar to what they did in the military? “Leaving the military can be the opportunity for a career change or to build on what was learned,” said Holt. “Making that choice is an individual decision that I cannot recommend one way or another. I will say to continue the discipline of military life.”

Veterans should recognize that not everything they learned in the military will apply to civilian work. “I was able to use my understanding of how PC’s were used to get a job,” said Holt. “Not all my skills were transferable. There was little market for blowing up things and jamming radios.” According to Holt, a military attitude will go far in the civilian workplace. “I see that veterans sometimes do have trouble translating their military job specialties into civilian language,” he said. “But it has often been said to ‘Hire for Attitude, Train for Skill.’”

Different organizations may focus more on different qualities, he added. “Employers believe that one of the biggest challenges they face is to fill their ranks with executives and front-line employees whose personal values sync with what makes the organization tick. They believe character counts for more than credentials. I work in the financial sector, and discipline is important there. Previously, I worked for a hotel company where customer service was important; the military teaches us to take care of others.”

Veterans shouldn’t expect career success to come right out of the gate. “You need to consider what you will be happy doing as well as what you can do,” said Holt. “Hopefully, these will match up immediately. But if not, you might have to take a long-range view of your career and take a short-term position while working up for the job you want. Further, it can be daunting to understand what a wide variety of jobs are possible. The military has clearly defined job titles and descriptions. While some companies do also, most positions are flexible and you have to carve out a niche for yourself.” And don’t forget one essential for interviews. “Dress for success,” said Holt. “My concern when I retired was not how to get a job or money. It was how to dress.”

This article appeared in the September-October 2015 issue of Search & Employ Magazine