DoD SkillBridge: Gain Civilian Experience Before Your Military Exit

Posted by Ashley Jones

To ease the road to transition, it’s important to start planning for your entry into the civilian workforce before your military exit arrives. But what if you could do more than plan, and actually jump right in and gain valuable experience before your official transition? That’s exactly what the DoD SkillBridge program has to offer, by delivering training and civilian work experience opportunities to active duty service members.

To sum up the DoD SkillBridge program, it connects transitioning service members to career training opportunities. Service members can gain real-world experience in the civilian world through industry training, apprenticeships, or internships during their last 180 days of service. And in addition to building priceless resume experience, SkillBridge interns often have opportunities to become full-time hires after program completion.

If you’re a service member preparing to seek civilian employment, find out more about the DoD SkillBridge program with the insights below, including feedback from participating industry partners, Jacobs and Novetta.

How SkillBridge Works for Service Members

The SkillBridge program helps bridge the gap between your military exit and the beginning of your civilian career. You can use up to the last 180 days of service to train and learn with an industry partner, while you continue to receive military pay and are covered by military benefits. As you look beyond the military and plan for what comes next, SkillBridge offers the opportunity to get ahead of the game and meet your goals more quickly.

SkillBridge allows you to start adjusting to the civilian sector before your military exit arrives. “You can’t say enough about the value of getting to test drive,” says Kirsten Renner, Senior Director of Recruiting, Novetta. “There’s no better way to figure things out and be less afraid of or reluctant about working in the civilian sector, than to just dive right in and do it.”

As a transition training program, SkillBridge boosts your marketability and civilian career prospects by growing your skills and resume with real-world job experience. “Seeing someone who qualifies for our contracts and also has that SkillBridge internship tells me as a recruiter and hiring manager that they not only have the skillset required, but they’ve also got some civilian or defense contract experience under their belt already,” says Bill Crowder, Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist, Jacobs. “It gives them a competitive edge over someone without a SkillBridge experience on their resume.”

If you’re preparing for your military transition, don’t underestimate the opportunity to work and learn in a civilian career capacity. “I 100% recommend that active duty service members that are interested in joining the civilian workforce should consider this program and figure out within their command how to get involved,” urges Kirsten Renner.


All ranks of military personnel are eligible for SkillBridge, but you must be able to complete the program within your last 180 days of service and also obtain written authorization from your unit Commander. While not mandatory, it’s recommended that you complete as much of your transition program as possible before starting SkillBridge so that you have an understanding of your options after the military.

If you’re interested in applying for SkillBridge, find a program that interests you here and consult with your local SkillBridge Program Manager. If you’re deployed or don’t have access to a SkillBridge Program Manager, you can submit an online request for assistance. Then be sure to obtain written approval from your unit commander.

How Employers Play a Part

For service members to participate in SkillBridge-related industry training, apprenticeships, and internships, the program relies on industry partners like Jacobs and Novetta. Participating employers like these offer real-world training and experience to SkillBridge interns, while benefitting from the unique skills and traits that military members bring to the table.

Roughly 200,000 service members transition out of the military each year and go on to enter the civilian workforce or seek higher education. SkillBridge industry partners get early access to these individuals, as service members matching their specific needs are able to train, learn, and work with them before terminating from active duty. “So it’s really like a test drive on both sides, which is fantastic,” says Kirsten Renner. “And it doesn’t cost the company anything because the DoD is paying them.”

While these industry partners support our military members through training and real-world work experience, they also have the opportunity to evaluate the service members and offer permanent positions after the completion of the program. “The people who come on typically do fantastic work and catch on very quickly,” conveys Bill Crowder. “They more often than not turn into hires.”

Kirsten Renner adds, “This year we hired about 14 people from SkillBridge so far—that’s amazing.”

The DoD SkillBridge program offers employers the opportunity to catch top talent before they officially enter the civilian workforce. “It develops a strong pipeline of qualified talent that really isn’t found anywhere else, especially for some of our defense contracts,” says Bill Crowder. It’s a win-win for both employers and military job seekers.

Spread the Word Throughout the Community

The DoD SkillBridge program helps transitioning military learn valuable skills and enhance their future career prospects with real-world experience, while also helping partnering employers to access top talent ahead of schedule. With so much to offer, you’d imagine SkillBridge would be well known throughout the community to all. But surprisingly some service members, employers, and defense contractors that would benefit from participating don’t know about the opportunity.

Whether you’re able to personally participate in the program or you know any service members or companies that fit the bill, see what the DoD SkillBridge program has to offer and help spread the word. Many things in life have some sort of a catch, but in this instance everyone involved benefits. Find out more about DoD SkillBridge here.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 05, 2021 11:14 am

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