FOCUS IN. Drive the energy of the conversation by being fully present during the call. You may wish to take notes, but make sure your attention is fully on your mentor so you respect their time—and don’t miss any key insights!

BE PREPARED. Get ready for your call by reading your mentor’s profile and preparing some questions ahead of time. What made you choose this mentor? What do you find interesting about this person’s experiences, skills, or background? What questions are top-of-mind for you at this point in your life, that your mentor might be able to answer? 

SET A PURPOSE. Be up front with what you need, intentional with your goals, and honest with your mentor. What are you hoping to learn or take away from the call? Express that goal in the first 5 minutes of your conversation.

GIVE THANKS. All USO Mentorship Mentors are volunteers, motivated by knowing they could make a difference in your life—and they’ll only know they’ve met their goal if you let them know! After the call completes, you’ll receive a text message with your mentors email address to follow up with a thank you.

  1. LISTEN FIRST. Allow the Military Spouse to set the scene for their current life goals, as well as their hopes for your call. Give them the space to share what they’re going through, free from your preconceived notions, before offering your input. And give yourself space to learn something new, too! Chances are you’ll come away with a new perspective.
  2. PROMPT WITH QUESTIONS. This may be this Military Spouse’s first time engaging in a mentoring conversation—there’s a chance they may be nervous! Try one of these questions to help break the ice and help them think through their own situation. The right answer may already be in front of them—they may just need your fresh eyes to help them see it!
    1. What do you want to achieve for yourself? For your family?
    2. How do you picture your ideal situation/career/outcome?
    3. What are the options or resources you’ve come up with so far? Have you tried them?
    4. What are some small, actionable goals that will get you closer to your ideal situation? How can I help you achieve them?
  3. BE A CONNECTOR. There’s a chance that you may not have the answers to every question you’ll be asked—but someone you know might! Use this opportunity to be a connector and expand this military spouse’s network. After your call is complete, you’ll be texted this Military Spouse’s email address so you can follow up with introductions.
  4. MOTIVATE, THEN STEP BACK. Remember that you’re helping this Military Spouse build a roadmap, but after your call, they’re the one at the wheel! Plan to end your call with a few achievable, actionable items for the Military Spouse to tackle—and then empower them to make it happen. If you’re willing, offer a second call and remember the goals you set today, so you can check in on their progress next time.

Professionals embody practices and behaviors that set them apart.


I recently read THE CHECKLIST MANIFESTO by Dr. Atul Gawande. I have a history in aviation, so I was familiar with checklists and intrigued by the book’s title. Dr. Gawande, a general and endocrine surgeon in Boston, related the checklist concept to medicine and several other professions. Regardless of profession, checklists amplify good behaviors and minimize preventable human errors.


 “We need a different strategy for overcoming failure, one that builds on  experience and takes advantage of the knowledge people have, but somehow also makes up for our inevitable human inadequacies. And there is such a strategy—though it will seem almost ridiculous in its simplicity, maybe even crazy to those of us who have spent years carefully developing ever more advanced skills and technologies. It is a checklist” 



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Some transitioning veterans may be considering a career in law, and that means applying to, and gaining admission to, law school (duh). If the closest you’ve come to the law is reruns of “Law and Order”, or even if you’ve already been fitted for judicial robes and have just a few unanswered questions about the application process, or, this column may be for you. Read On!

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“One key to successful leadership is continuous personal change. Personal change is a reflection of our inner growth and empowerment.” – Robert E. Quinn


I’m writing this article many years after my first shot at being in an upper management position, over a group of civilians. This position was offered to me after being in the military, where I was trained how to “manage troops”. First of all, if you’re a veteran, thank you for your service. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I’m the daughter of a twenty year military veteran and my grandfather is a twenty year military veteran as well. I have several other family members who served honorably and I could list other family members who are presently serving in the military. I have a lot of respect for those who choose to serve our country.


I served in the Air Force as a reservist for ten years, working in the medical and flight medical service. I was honorably discharged as a Technical Sergeant (E-6). While being in the reserves, I also worked full time in civilian emergency medical services (EMS) as a Nationally Registered Paramedic, and I was often promoted to leadership positions at my civilian jobs because of my military training. I’ve learned a few important differences between these two leadership settings, and I wish to pass this along to other military veterans who may be placed in a position to lead civilian employees.

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When I was out of work, I began reading a column in the local paper by a career coach named Eli Amdur. I have actually had the privilege of speaking with Mr. Amdur either on the phone or via email and he is always willing to help, especially Veterans. One of his articles, which I have used to instruct in my resume writing class, was the top 20 resume mistakes to avoid when applying for a job. Below is a list of those 20 mistakes, of which, Mr. Amdur has found 19 on one resume. This is because one of these mistakes cannot exist with the presence of the other.

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I joined the Army in 2006 with the goal of getting out. That might sound strange, but in 2004, while living in my car in San Diego I’d made a 10-year plan. I had a pathway in mind to where I wanted to be at the end of my service. Part of my plan was to be strategic about using my GI-Bill. I wanted to maximize how I used it in conjunction with tuition assistance.

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Remember the movie “Castaway” with Tom Hanks? He played a man who crashed landed on a deserted island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. And he lived there for many years, alone, until one day the tide washed up a piece of metal that he used to build something that helped him get off the island. The point was that you never know what will wash in with the tide and how it could be the very thing that will save you. This has been my experience with job hunting. You never know what will happen, so be prepared to use every resource.

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Many veterans have the financial resources for higher education with benefits ranging from Tuition Assistance to the variations of the GI Bill. Where they need assistance is finding the right colleges and universities that truly deliver successful outcomes for their students. 

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Transition is defined as a process or period of changing from one state or condition to another. There may be no greater challenge than transitioning from a life in the military to a life in corporate America. While many of us relish the opportunity and look forward to the change in lifestyle, there are many challenges. There are multiple avenues to take in your transition aside from utilizing a recruiting firm. A solid, simple, and structured strategy will help a Junior Military Officer navigate the complicated and stressful path to a new career. I have read numerous helpful plans on LinkedIn and other publications that have helped me in my transition. Using the knowledge I have obtained from my experiences. I think that these five steps of self discovery, building your corporate knowledge, connecting your knowledge to your unique skills, networking, and targeted job hunting are a blueprint for a successful transition. I hope this article helps simplify the approach a Junior Military Officer (JMO) takes to transitioning and enable veterans to have a smooth, efficient, and enjoyable transition to a new life in corporate America.

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