Narrow Your Focus
THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers 78 bachelors, 112 master’s, 68 doctorate, and 7 professional degree programs through 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. UNC-Chapel Hill is a state university and part of North Carolina’s university system. The university is located near the state capital, Raleigh, and is part of the Research Triangle Park – one of the largest high-tech research and development areas in the United States.
UNC-Chapel Hill has more than 22,000 employees, and an enrollment of over 29,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. Careers there range from administrative, finance, research, and human resources to information technology – and everything in between, including both faculty and staff.
UNC-Chapel Hill’s veteran outreach consists of career fairs in the Raleigh-Durham area, and visits to the nearby military bases Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune. The university values veterans because they bring a sense of dedication, professionalism, and quality of work admired by employers. Many of them also bring transferable skills and experiences required of university employees, making for a smooth transition to civilian life.
Esprit de corps is a special bond that strengthens military units. UNC-Chapel Hill has a similar feeling of pride, a common loyalty, and commitment to excellence shared by those on campus. Additionally, the Dean of Students’ Office focuses on easing student veterans’ transition from the military to higher education. The office provides resources and support services to create a visible support network, assisting students in navigating a large research university, and building the student veteran community on campus.
A VETERAN SUCCESS | PAUL STELLY
Paul Stelly spent 20 years in the United States Army, retiring as a sergeant first class. His main responsibility was as a senior human resources specialist. He now works as an employment consultant at UNC; he facilitates the hiring of employees. He started working at UNC in 2014.
He found that his military experience paid off quickly in the civilian workplace. “I was fortunate to have had a broad range of human resources assignments, from company headquarters to joint command,” he said. “My career assignments included records specialist, personnel services non-commissioned officer, equal opportunity advisor, and strength manager. These opportunities aided in giving me a wide range of understanding of HR functions and processes.”
Stelly has some advice for veterans who want to have a career in human resources. “I would recommend that they earn a bachelor’s in a related field, obtain a Professional Human Resources (PHR) certification, or both,” he said. “Also, research job descriptions for the position you want to attain – then highlight on your resume how your military experiences relate to the position.”
Stelly’s military experience prepared him for working at UNC-Chapel Hill. “In particular, I use the analytical and decision-making skills I learned in the military every day, along with understanding and implementing policies and procedures,” he said. “As with the military, the university is a fast-paced environment where thinking quickly on your feet is a must. Being placed in challenging situations almost daily in the military has allowed me the opportunity to learn how to react when faced with perplexing situations today.”
A positive personality also plays a role. “Having a positive attitude, being goal-oriented and self-confident proved to be a recipe for success in my military career,” he said. “Here at UNC-Chapel Hill, those traits have allowed me to hit the ground running and become a valued team member.”
However, working at a major university is quite different from serving in the military. “I must say that working here at Carolina is a total 180 degrees from most of the assignments I have been on in the military,” said Stelly. “Most of my career was in the 82nd Airborne Division, and Special Forces Command. These units, based on their missions, were very mentally intense. If I had to choose an assignment closely related to the atmosphere here, it would be my time spent on staff at the Joint Command, in Europe.”
He recommends an early start for servicemembers who are considering leaving the service. “My advice would be to start at least 18 months before leaving the service,” Stelly said. “See your Army Career and Alumni Program (ACAP) counselor to help you identify career choices. Explore job search engines for the job or career that piques your interest. Identify the essential knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA’s) required for the position. Search the Internet, or watch videos on YouTube, on how to customize your resume, and how to dress and interview for a job. This information can be used to enhance what you have learned at ACAP.”
Once it is time to find a post-military job, it is important to focus, according to Stelly. “My advice for transitioning/ veteran military who are interested in working at North Carolina is to narrow down your career choice and related skills,” he said. “In the military, we all had a specific job for which we were trained. However, we found ourselves many times working outside of those jobs, gaining valuable skills. While it is great that you have a lot of skills, those skills may not be a good fit for a particular position, and you may end up confusing the hiring managers. Narrowing down your skill sets, based on the essentials of the position, helps hiring managers compare your skills to their requirements. Having a jargon-free resume with concise bullet statements should also yield great results.”