Why veterans should consider careers in higher education

 Marketing Director   November 20, 2018  Veterans

During his twenty years in the military, Adam Potter’s career path took him from starting as an Airborne Infantryman to his retirement as the Senior Army Guidance Counselor of Butte Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS). Adam currently serves as Director of the Central Midwest Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (HERC) and as Senior Human Resources Specialist at the University of Iowa. 

Here’s why your military experience makes you a strong candidate for a job at a college or university:

Your military job likely has a counterpart in higher education. It takes all kinds of skills and knowledge to run a military operation—and the same goes for college campuses. Think of a college or university as a military installation regarding logistics: At the University of Iowa, we have a police force, logistics team, and facilities management staff. The other day, I spoke to someone looking for a job as a pipefitter. I was able to pull up twelve pipefitter jobs on the HERC website. In higher ed, we have to get past the stereotype that many job seekers (not just veterans) have of higher ed: We’re not just hiring professors, there are plenty of staff and administrative roles.

Apply the commitment and flexibility you honed in the military. Right now, employers are really pushing to hire people with soft skills. A lot of veterans bring this to the table. Veterans understand what it means to embrace an organization’s mission and know what it takes to get the job done. People who are used to working at a fast-op tempo are very flexible. They’re willing to embrace change in the higher ed workplace because they’re used to a constantly-shifting environment.

Seek out veterans’ preference at public institutions. Veterans’ preference won’t guarantee you a job, but it will open up certain venues to finding employment. Find out what veterans’ preference means at your particular institution. For instance, at the University of Iowa, if veterans are applying but not getting interviews, or are interviewed but not getting hired, they can contact our Equal Opportunity Office and ask why. This knowledge may prompt you to update your application materials or finesse your interviewing skills.

Multiple opportunities may be a good fit. I think veterans will be pleasantly surprised at the multiple types of higher ed jobs they’re qualified for. I was talking to a veteran who works for the FBI right now, and he’s looking for a new job opportunity. He could easily transfer to a security director role or become a risk specialist at a large university. Similarly, there are likely many jobs that could fit your specific expertise.

Download our free ebook, Veterans Transitioning Into Higher Ed (Revised Edition) for more information on your shift from military to civilian careers. Explore additional resources for veterans from HERC Jobs.