David transitioned from the military… twice. He talks about what he got wrong on his first transition, and advice on pitfalls to avoid. He serves as a Project Manager and is a member of a 5 person Military Relations Team at Lockheed Martin who organize over 170 career fairs per year, and has helped countless military Veterans in their career search. We cover a lot of ground in terms of resources Veterans should consider, mistakes to avoid and more.
David Wallace is a Military Relations Project Manager at Lockheed Martin, where he has worked since 2009. He served in the US Navy for over 20 years, first as a Navy photographer on USS Fulton (AS 11), USS Forrestal (CV 59) then became a Navy Reserve career recruiter.
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Military careers page
Military virtual chat session offered twice a month
DOD Skill Bridge program - while still on active duty obtain an internship within a company that could be their next career
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Transcript & Time Stamps:
Joining me today from Washington D.C. is David Wallace. David Wallace is a Military Relations Project Manager at Lockheed Martin, where he has worked since 2009. He served in the US Navy for over 20 years, first as a Navy photographer on the USS FULTON (AS 11) and USS FORRESTAL (CV 59). He then became a Navy Reserve career recruiter.
What was your transition out of the military like?
I transitioned twice. I got out for the first time in 1996 thinking that I would be the next Ansel Adams with my photography skills. That didn’t work out but I did put an application in to become a Navy Reserve recruiter. So that’s what I did for the next 14 years of my military career.
My first time transitioning out, I was very unprepared. The second time, I learned from my mistakes and was much better prepared.
What advice would you give to people to avoid making the same mistakes you did during your first transition?
The TAPS transition program has changed a lot since I got out in 2009. It’s much more in depth now.
I think it’s important to know what you want to do after the military. Write down a piece of paper all the things you really enjoyed doing in the military and all the things you really didn’t like. That should give you an idea of what fields and positions could be a good match for you.
Start planning for your transition early. Don’t think you’re going to be an overnight success. Finding the right job post-military is a full-time job.
What lead you to Lockheed Martin?
When I was getting out for the second time, Lockheed Martin was just opening their Career Development Center. I went there and was able to learn a lot about writing resumes and succeeding in interviews. It wasn’t meant to lead to a job but I started talking to some of the people there and that eventually lead me to my current position.
You never know who you’re talking to. When I was at the Career Development Center, I wasn’t supposed to be there to find a job but I was open to learn and talked to as many people as I could just to learn more. That eventually lead me to where I am now.
Particularly when you’re talking to a recruiter, have a specific job function or area in mind where you believe you would be a good fit. To say, “I’m open to anything” doesn’t really help that recruiter envision you at their company. Let them know specific skill sets and experience that you possess. This will help them fit you into positions you would be qualified for.
Not everyone has a natural gift for talking to recruiters and interviewers. It might take a lot of work to prepare and feel comfortable talking about your experience. That’s completely fine - keep working on it until you get to a point where you feel comfortable talking about your accomplishments.
You transitioned into the Reserves. How did you approach that decision?
Even though I was technically in the Reserves, I was serving on active duty during that time. It really gives you a good fall back where you have a financial safety net and health insurance provided to you. Many active duty and Reservist maintain security clearances. Having that clearance can really benefit you during the job hunt process depending on the position you’re applying for.
What do you do on a day-to-day basis as Lockheed Martin’s Military Relations Project Manager?
I’m engaged in a lot of different activities. I plan different career fairs throughout the year. I also work with other departments to identify ways we can increase our veteran recruitment and retainment.
I work with a lot of transitioning veterans and help them through that process and consider different roles at Lockheed Martin where they could be a good fit.
Why is Lockheed Martin a good fit for veterans?
Our company motto is “Our mission is yours”. We’re very intune with the military community. One out of every 5 Lockheed employees has served or is actively serving in the military. We also have military veteran resource groups to assist veterans in all facets of corporate employment.
The company also make a big effort to give back. We have partnerships with American Corporate Partners, Hiring our Heroes, and other organizations. We genuinely care about our nation’s military and want to make a positive impact on the community.
After people transition out, what they often miss is the camaraderie and sense of community. I think that Lockheed provides a comfort zone for veterans and gives them that sense that they are surrounded by other veterans and people that care about the military community.
What advice would you give to transitioning military veterans?
The first job search is the most difficult. It can be very nerve wracking. But be careful that you’re not conveying that to recruiters. Some transitioning veterans can become borderline stalkerish with emails and phone calls to recruiters. That can come off as desperate.
The HR and job hiring process can often take a while so try to be patient. My team and I are constantly trying to find ways to making the hiring process smoother and quicker. But it’s not always that way so try to remain patient.
Also, every application that you have should have a different resume and application materials. You want to tailor your resume to that exact position.
I also think there can be a sense of entitlement sometimes. You’re not going to be the best applicant for every position you apply for. And you’re not going to be handed a job just because you’re a veteran. You should be proud of your service but remain humble during the job search process.
Are there any resources you would recommend?
The DoD SkillBridge Program can provide a great opportunity to expose yourself to the civilian workforce before even leaving the military.
The Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program is also fantastic. At Lockheed Martin, we frequently host participants in this program. I work with many of those individuals to continue to develop their post-military goals. Hiring Our Heroes also offer a Resume Engine tool to help veterans create civilian resumes.
There are so many great resources out there to help you during your transition.
What advice do you have for veterans that are interested in working for Lockheed Martin?
Start at our website and learn as much as you can about our organization. We also have a military career website that can help you translate your experience in the military into possible job fields at Lockheed that could be a good fit for you.
Also go to our Military Connect website. Through this website you and reach out to me and other recruiters at Lockheed Martin. We’re happy to have conversations with you to help you learn more about our company.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our listeners?
Everyone’s transition is different. Everyone has their own circumstances. Opportunities are out there but you do need to do your due diligence. The job search is going to be a full-time job for you but if you put the time in, it will pay off.