Transitioning from the military to the civilian world can be a scary process. Usually so much has changed since you were last working as a civilian. And if you went into the military right out of high school, you may not have had civilian work experience other than a typical teenage job here and there.

When transitioning out of the military, you are not only going from one industry to another or one job to another, you are going from one culture to something completely different. Some people get lost in the process. The smart ones however, use mentoring.

Mentoring can be your bridge that brings you successfully from one world to the next. As a military member mentoring is not new to us. While serving we do it all the time. We look up to those more senior and more experienced than us for advice about our military career. And we in turn offer advice to those junior to us that are looking for a way to navigate a system foreign to them.

But it seems as though something gets lost along the way when going from the military to civilian world. Military to civilian mentoring can be your key. Why?

Eighty percent of new jobs are not advertised through normal job posting methods. They are filled via having personal connections with decision makers, creating a strong personal brand and through mentoring.

Why a mentor?

Just like the military, a civilian mentor can help you explore new ideas and options about a career by providing you with insights based on their experiences and resources available to them. One of those resources is their network. While they may not have a job that is a fit for you right now, they might know of someone that does and can put you in touch with that person (along with a good word about you).

Finding a mentor

Finding a mentor in the civilian world is not as easy as it was while in the military. That is why you must start well ahead of transitioning so that you have a mentoring process in place when you need it. In other words, dig your well before you need the water from it. One resource many veterans are finding that makes the process easier is a digital platform called Veterati.

Veterati is a fairly new place, having started in January 2016. People connect for free; you can sign up either as a mentee or a mentor. There is no application to fill out and it only takes a minute to sign up.

As a mentee, you can connect with as many mentors as you want. Through conversations they can help you choose an internship, get a job while using your GI Bill to get your foot in the door, or help get you a job after graduating from college.  In general, help steer your career. It could be the best 60 seconds you spent signing up.

Mentoring, and the networking your mentors do behind the scenes can be your ticket to success. As the old saying goes “It isn’t what you know, but who you know”. With mentoring, it is a little of both. In the end it is advantageous to you … and that is all that matters.

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Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard of which 32 of those years were in a full-time status along with being a traditional guardsman. Kness takes pride in being able to still help veterans, military members, and families as they struggle through veteran and dependent education issues.