Working at a Startup After The Army Was My Best Career Move — Here’s Why

How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?

Six months; before Fairygodboss, I was a writer and editor at SmartAsset, a personal finance startup. Before that, I worked at The Muse, another career website. That was my first job after serving as an intelligence officer in the Army for about five years.

What factors were most important to you in transitioning from a military to civilian job? Are there any challenges associated with that transition that people may not be aware of?

I wanted to work somewhere less encumbered by red tape. That meant unlike many of my peers, who were leaving the Army for government jobs or roles in large corporations, I sought positions in startups. 

The toughest part of the transition, for me, was that my military experience did not translate well to the career I wanted (writing). I had to take an internship (and a huge pay cut) at 26 after having had responsibility for 100 soldiers and millions of dollars of equipment. I knew I needed industry experience for writing, and was grateful for the job, but I felt a little sad that the management and organizational knowledge and skills I had learned went to waste because I wasn’t in the position to implement those types of things. The challenge for me is my perpetual struggle to have patience. It takes time to do a career 180! 

What did your company do to help ease the transition, and how have you felt supported working there?

My first company after the Army was a warm, supportive, yet high-paced startup. It was the perfect place for me to land, because the content we wrote and produced was career adviceand productivity tips. By working with the content each day, I learned how to be a better interviewee and job search more effectively, and how to use LinkedIn and other networkingtools to my advantage. I learned so much about the civilian job market at that job — it was super useful!

Do you believe your military background has provided you with any unique perspectives or talents that aid your career today? 

Absolutely. At the very least, it helped me chill out and realize at the end of the day, all that matters is people.  A grumpy, old retired contractor reminded me that one day when I was working with my platoon early in my career. He saw my frustration and impatience mounting, and reminded me, “at the end of the day, if no one’s bleeding, you’re doing just fine.” When you’re given so much responsibility and you’re under so much pressure so young, everything else you do after seems a lot less scary. The Army gave me confidence, and reminded me that complex problems can be broken down into small, actionable steps. Also, the military is similar to a large corporation, so I learned the importance of information distribution, standard operating procedures, and continued refinement of processes. 

And for my current job, SEO, intelligence was actually the perfect background because it’s a lot of data mining and tracking, as well as predictions and targeting. 

Read the rest on Fairygodboss.