"I need a job," said Ty Ospino, one of the first job seekers to arrive at Military Veterans Resource Center's Veterans Career Fair on Friday, July 18. After 14 years of service in the U.S. Army, Ospino is preparing to separate from the military and hopes to find a job in research and development. As soon as the doors opened, he began making the rounds, speaking with company representatives and handing out copies of his resume.
Veterans from all walks of life attended the Veterans Career Fair, some just beginning the transition and some having been retired for years. Held at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, the event marked the second career fair hosted by Military Veterans Resource Center in 2014. Both fairs were organized by MVRC's Dayton-area career specialist, Kelley Koons, and attended by Ohio area employers. Even though the event was scheduled to run from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., veterans began arriving at 9 a.m., eager to meet with over 50 potential employers.
Though from different industries (insurance, technology, manufacturing, government, etc.) many employers seemed to agree that passion for the work was the most desirable quality in prospective employees.
"I'll take somebody with passion over somebody with the skill set any day," said Lori Laggett, representing LexisNexis.
Representatives from UTC Aerospace Systems and Western & Southern Life also said that a candidate's personality and ability to engage with others stands out the most during the hiring process.
Popular among veterans were companies in the technology industry and companies hiring for logistics positions.
Melisa Lucio, an active duty Air Force Reservist, hopes to pursue a career in logistics or computers after her service. Lucio is confident that her military experience has prepared her for her desired field and spoke with multiple employers at the event.
Ospino also hopes to hear back from several companies with openings in logistics, but has his reservations. MVRC's career fair is the fourth event he has attended since beginning the job search three months ago. Ospino says finding employment after the military is much more difficult than he was expecting. In particular, lacking the proper licenses and certifications has proved to be one of his most significant barriers to finding employment.
"The [military's] leadership is not getting people ready for the transition. [They] should have classes about how to get licenses," said Ospino.
Air Force Veteran Howser Echols has faced similar difficulties. He recently made a career change into the insurance industry, but does not yet have the licenses necessary to advance far in the field, making it difficult to secure interviews with employers.
However, Echols left the career fair with four interviews lined up with insurance companies. One of the companies even turned down his online application, but after Echols explained he was in the process of obtaining his insurance license, they offered him an interview. Currently, MVRC is providing Echols financial assistance and will help cover the costs of the course, the exam fees and the fingerprinting.
"Whenever candidates talk to me, they have to convey their dreams," said Anna Osborne, Agency Manager at Western & Southern Life. Her company is one of the four that will interview Echols in the coming weeks.
If you missed Friday's Veterans Career Fair, but would like to have attended, stay tuned for MVRC's upcoming events. Several more career fairs will be coming your way this year! Or, if you would like assistance now to prepare for your job search, or more information on how MVRC can help you, visit us at milvetsrc.org, or call us at 855-557-VETS.