Have you completed what is necessary to prepare for your next career? Maybe a better question is; Have you thought about what you will do for your future career?

Some in transition are concerned with the lack of a Standard Operating Procedure or regulation that instruct you on how to go about your transition. Others are concerned with the foreign language spoken by civilians. These concerns sometimes lead to apathy or confidence issues.

The reality is you have unknowingly been honing your skills for the lucrative civilian career field of project management your entire military career. You are well suited for project management. You have performed project-related tasks every day of your military service. By virtue of being a team member in and out of leadership positions, you have planned, executed and performed operations. All of these are essentially project management functions, just by different terminology.

Think Like a Bumble Bee to Succeed in Your Transition

Just like the bumble bee , which scientist agree should never be able to fly, you must ignore any outside or internal voices telling you anything other than you have what it takes. You must understand and believe that you actually have ability and training for the rewarding career field of project management. Beside this fact, the military developed modern project management and it is in your military DNA.

Based on your skills, becoming a project manager is easy if you start preparing prior to leaving the service. If you have already departed the service and you are still looking for your next career, know that project management may be the perfect career field for you, just need to get on board the bus.

Universally, the major obstacle to the transitioning military project manager is developing a good understanding of the terminology required to be successful. You must “get on the bus” and learn standard project management terminology and concepts. You need to be able to translate your military planning and execution skills to project management terms. Expressions like mission and operations equate to other vernacular in the civilian world. Once you gain an understanding of the terminology, apply your translated skills and concepts to your resume, during the interview, and on the job.  A few of translated terms are:

Military Term/Reference Military Definition Project Management Term         Project Definition
Mission or Operation

ADP 5-0   (FM 5-0)

Operations generally involve military action or the accomplishment of a strategic, operational, or tactical, service, training, or administrative military mission. Project A temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result.
Mission Statement

JP 1-0

A short sentence or paragraph that describes the organization’s essential task(s), purpose, and action containing the elements of who, what, when, where, and why. Project Scope Statement The description of the project scope, major deliverables, assumptions, and constraints
Operations Order

FM 7-8

An executable plan that directs a unit on how to conduct a military operation Project Management Plan The document that describes how the project will be executed, monitored, and controlled.
Commander’s intent

JP 3.0

A clear and concise expression of the purpose of the operation and the desired military end state that supports mission command provides focus to the staff, and helps subordinate and supporting commanders act to achieve the commander’s desire result without further order, even when the operation does not unfold as planned. Strategic Plan Document used to communicate with the organization the organizations goals, the actions needed to achieve those goals and all of the other critical elements developed during the planning exercise.

*Re-print by permission from “The Transitioning Military Project Manager”

You are probably asking yourself, how do I personally do this? You can figure out how to translate your experiences into project management terms using several methods. First is experience and hard knocks, the second is certification, and the third is reading and self-study.

Regardless of your method, there are great tools, such as the website ProjectManagemet.com, providing tremendous information for professionals desiring to grow and learn more about project management. “The Transitioning Military Project Manager’’” is a great book for military in transition to the career field of project management. All the major credentialing organizations have websites laying out the requirements for certification (PMI.org and CompTIA.org).  Bottom line, read, study, develop a transition plan, and then execute the plan.

Remember, the bumble bee is supposedly not aerodynamic and should not be able to fly. However, we all know that the bee is superb at flight. Believe it or not, you are very suitable for the career field of project manager. The question is “Will I get certified?”  rather than “Can I get certified?”

Wishing you lucrative transition.

Related News

Jay Hicks is an author, instructor and consultant. With a special kinship for military personnel, Jay provides guidance on successful civilian career transition and has co-authored “The Transitioning Military Series”. He is the co-founder of Gr8Transitions4U, where advocating the value of hiring military personnel is the key focus. More about Jay and his passion can be found at Gr8Transitions4U.com.