NEWS + ADVICE
How to Participate in DoD SkillBridge and Have a Successful Internship
Learn everything you’ve been wanting to know about the DoD SkillBridge program from Katie Steinbeck, Military Recruiting Liaison for Accenture Federal Services. As a participating SkillBridge employer, in addition to being a military spouse for nearly 20 years, Katie has invaluable experience advocating for and helping service members transition.
SkillBridge is an internship program supported by the Dept. of Defense and allows service members to apply skills learned in the military and translate them to the civilian world. You may be eligible for the SkillBridge program when you enter your 180-day window from your separation date. During a SkillBridge internship, servicemembers can work with a civilian company and learn about the business, their culture, values, etc.
Seek Approval from Your Leadership Team Early
In order to be approved for a SkillBridge internship, the servicemember must first gain approval from their leadership. This requires having discussions well in advance of service separation. Be transparent with your leadership and have those conversations early. It’s never too soon to start prepping for a military transition.
Ultimately, a unit/command’s decision to grant you time for participation could come down to mission-dependent requirements. In other words, they may not have the manpower to let you go early. This is why it’s a good idea to start having those conversations with your leadership sooner rather than later for planning purposes.
Find a Point of Contact to Reach Out to
If you’re in the market for a SkillBridge internship, the first step is to tap into your local resources to find a few points of contact. Check out your base education/transition office for referrals, talk to friends/colleagues, read through program information, and attend transition classes. It’s also a good idea to attend career fairs and connect with POC’s at local organizations that interest you. Next, check out the DoD SkillBridge website. You can filter your search to meet your desired criteria and you will see a POC listed on the site as well.
The other great way to find POC’s is by networking. You can establish professional connections via the internet, a local networking group, or even the base SkillBridge office. It’s smart to build these relationships so that when the time comes, you already have that rapport in place. Another great resource is LinkedIn. You can use the LinkedIn search option to look for SkillBridge recruiters or military recruiting teams at various organizations.
Get Your Resume Ready for SkillBridge
When you send your resume to an organization for SkillBridge consideration, make sure you hit a few key sections such as a brief summary, skills, experience, and certs. It’s ok to have some military jargon on there but try to limit it in case it lands with a recruiter that isn’t familiar with military community verbiage. For example, while some recruiters are familiar with the title “Chief Petty Officer,” others may have to guess as to what career level that equates to. It’s a good idea to always keep your audience (the readers/recruiters) in mind when writing your resume.
Which SkillBridge Opportunity Will Be Best for Me
When looking for a SkillBridge internship, there are several things to consider: location, your family needs, career goals, work schedule, transition timeline, etc. There are a lot of SkillBridge programs out there, so be sure to do your research by using some of the methods listed above. Try to learn about which types of programs each organization offers, and which ones align with your values.
Be sure to always do your homework. Every program and organization operates a little differently, so it’s a good idea to attend informational sessions and schedule coffee chats with companies of interest to determine the best fit for you, your family, and your career aspirations.
You Can Upskill into Something Completely New
It’s also good to remember that when you transition out of the military, you can use SkillBridge to upskill and completely re-brand yourself. There are some amazing programs out there that require little to no experience in a specific field, where organizations will teach you from the ground-up. You can use this time to completely re-invent yourself and make a complete career pivot. Although many servicemembers choose to stay within their established career path (and that’s okay), don’t forget it’s okay to explore new paths too.
SkillBridge Opportunities Can be Individual or in Cohorts
The way a SkillBridge program is structured varies greatly depending on the company. It’s important to understand that each organization operates a little differently regarding timelines, start dates, duration, training, programs offered, etc. This is why it’s good to attend an informational session (if available) with an organization’s military recruiting team to hammer out those details.
While some organizations may only offer individual SkillBridge internships, others may offer a cohort-style opportunity (some organizations have both options). Being part of a cohort typically means that you will begin an internship with other candidates and go through the process at the same time, with the same start date.
SkillBridge Timelines to Consider
How long your internship lasts often depends on your transition timeline. In other words, how much of the 180 days do you want to utilize and how does that correlate with your projected terminal leave? When making those decisions, you want to be sure you have enough time to fully grasp the scope of a role before the internship ends. Therefore, some organizations will prefer that you to sit with them for a minimum number of days, let’s say 90 days—whereas others may let you sit with them the entire 180 days. Again, it’s always best to ask those questions to the company/POC directly as those options can vary from company to company.
Every servicemember will have a different timeline for their transition. Because of this, preparation and planning are key. A good place to start is to sit down and determine a few things such as: where you want to be, when you want to be there, how much terminal leave you want to take, and when you want to begin working full time. Once you get your timeline mapped out, it will take some of the pressure off and be easier for you to make the next step.
Employment Prospects After SkillBridge Participation
Many companies offer interviews at the end of a successful internship. When participating in a SkillBridge program, this is your opportunity to show the value you can bring to the organization. Use this opportunity to attend in-person networking events hosted by the organization, network within your team and/or cohort, do your research about different roles that are available, etc. SkillBridge programs do not promise anyone a full-time role at the end, but the opportunity is always there for you to show your value.
What Will I Get Out of SkillBridge
Like most things, you will get out of your SkillBridge what you put into it. If you show up every day ready to learn and collaborate, then you are sure to walk away with new skills, experiences, connections, mentors, colleagues and friends. Some folks even find full time employment at the end. At the bare-minimum, you will have gained a great resume builder and real-world experience.
Networking is the name of the game. Be sure to network as much as you can during your SkillBridge internship. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or to reach out and connect with people.
Connect with Katie if You’re Interested in SkillBridge Opportunities at AFS
At Accenture Federal Services (AFS), we offer virtual Friday info sessions, where we go over all our SkillBridge programs and chat about the meaningful work we are doing here at AFS. If you’re interested in learning more or receiving an invite to an info session, please reach out to our Military Recruiting team via email at [email protected].This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 08, 2023 11:36 am