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Trisha Katula - Military to Civilian Transition

U.S. Navy, Electronics Technician Third Class
Headend Technician, SuddenLink Communications

I was very nervous about the transition from the military to civilian world. You hear a lot of horror stories from people about their transition. But I was told at a very young age that you make things how they are, so I surrounded myself with a very strong support group. Also, I asked a lot of questions. I did not listen to what people said about transitioning, instead I asked the experts. That is a big part of the transitioning process.

I quickly realized that it is ok to not know what to expect. Once I got all the information that I needed, I was able to make the right choices for my move and transition. I was also lucky to be able to use my new boss for a lot of questions that I had about my new town and with finding places to live. This was a very stressful time in my life, but, after it was all said and done, I couldn’t be happier with the way that it went.

I would have to say the easiest part of my transition was finding a job. Orion really helped to put my mind at ease when it came to finding a job. The recruiter that I worked with was very active in all parts of my interviews and preparation. I was given some great advice and material about interviewing and writing my resume.

Writing my resume was the hardest part, though. I hadn’t written a resume in about five years. The biggest challenge of writing my resume was translating all the military terms to civilian terms. The military uses a lot of acronyms, and the civilian world does not know what they are. I used O* to help with this.

When deciding if my potential employer SuddenLink was right for me, I used the company website and also looked for customer reviews. Both of these gave me insight to the company. Many of us know that the company website is made to make the company look good, but, when you read real customer reviews, you can get an idea of how the company treats their customers.

I’m entering the Telecommunications industry, and my military experience helped a lot with this new job. I monitor and fix any problems in the main shop before it goes to the customer. This is a great field to work in, as we have some of the newest technologies in the world. This industry is constantly changing and improving. There is a lot of advancement opportunity within the company and in my department.

My military training gave me an overview of all the different parts of the telecommunication world. Also, in the military, you grow accustomed to change. Some older techs in this field are not accustomed to the change. A lot of things in this field are going from RF to IP, and people who have been dealing with RF all of their careers are having issues with this change.

I am very impressed with the benefits that Suddenlink provides. For the most part, I have the same benefits that the Navy offered, except I have to pay a portion of the premiums and the company pays part of the premiums. They also offer many different services, just as the Fleet and Family offices do.

The one thing that I have found that is different between the military and civilian workplace is that in the civilian world your thoughts and opinions carry more weight. If you think of a way to do something differently or more effectively, companies want to know about it. This is why they hire military! If it wasn’t for the military, I would have not gotten to the place that I am today.

One of the best lessons that I have learned through this experience is to use your resources. There are a lot of people that are willing to help and point service members in the right direction when you are going through the transitioning process. Even if you think you have a stupid question, ask it. Any time you are unclear on what to do, there is someone that can help you.
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