IAVA & The Fullbridge Program: Workplace Development for New Veterans
Posted by Christina Kim on January 28
In fall of 2012, IAVA and the Fullbridge Program partnered together to connect ten Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with an exclusive, veterans-focused version of the Fullbridge Program -- a rigorous, three-week business and entrepreneurship course. This first IAVA-Fullbridge cohort attended the all-expenses paid pilot program from January 2-18, 2013 in Boston, MA. Divided into two teams, participants worked with Fullbridge coaches to both build upon and translate the skills they learned in the military to the civilian workplace. The teams also focused on building their knowledge of and experience with business analysis, finance, professional development and more.
Kevin Booher, a former Marine Captain, knew that he had applicable skills based on his military experience.
“But I didn’t always have the details needed to translate them directly to the business world,” he said.
For Booher, participating in the Fullbridge Program was the perfect opportunity to make things happen: “I know I can learn the tenets of business. I just needed the right venue.”Focused on ten core competencies, the veterans-focused Fullbridge Program builds upon the unique leadership and discipline skills veterans already possess and reconfigures them for a civilian workplace environment. Combined with additional skills, such as reading financial statements, financial analysis and presentation skills, the Fullbridge Program is investing in veterans’ career success after their service in the military.
And despite clear differences between learning about cash flow analysis and convoy planning, participants found themselves facing new challenges and hurdles as they went through the program.
“This program is learning intensive, the proverbial ‘fire hose’ of information,” echoed Evan Bruno, a former Navy Intelligence Officer.
The program’s intensive structure – 9am-6pm for six days a week – also forced participants to think on their feet and pull from their experience in the military.
“Learning how to take initial failure or frustration in stride and power through to get results needed came largely from my military experience,” Bruno said.
“There were some real gut check moments,” added Joshua Carroll, a former Air Force Captain and Intelligence Officer. “In a way, it was almost humbling. ... The question that I kept asking myself is ‘Am I still hungry enough to learn?’ ‘Am I teachable still?’”
But with great challenges came great opportunities – and great success.
As part of their program, the participants were tasked with preparing a mock case study for a Fortune 500 company and presenting it to the other participants and coaches. Combining all of the skills and knowledge they had learned in the program, the final group presentations represented a culmination of the entire Fullbridge Program experience.
“I could really see how far we had come individually and as a team,” said Tim McCarty, a former Air Force Staff Sergeant. “You could really see how much understanding we’d gained. All of us were answering questions that would have stumped us a few weeks ago – and sounding like professionals while doing it.”
But there was much more to be gained from this experience. Beyond developing the hard and soft skills needed to succeed in the civilian workplace, this first cohort of IAVA-Fullbridge veterans walked away with a new appreciation of their military skills, their ability to rise to new challenges, and to return to their communities as civic and business leaders.
For Marine veteran Jessica Aranda, participating in the Fullbridge Program allowed her to learn “more about myself as an individual, a leader, and a team member.”
“That will be our biggest takeaway – confidence in ourselves and our new abilities,” said McCarty. “While all of the finance, management, and marketing lessons are great, the thing that will most pay off for us will be our confidence as we move into the business world."
As the first cohort returns to their communities to advance their career goals and professional development, their success is both inspiration for and proof that America’s New Greatest Generation is not a charity but an investment.
Are you an Iraq and/or Afghanistan veteran and interested in joining our next class? Based on the success of this program, IAVA and Fullbridge are teaming up again to expand this program to host more veterans around the country. Whether your goal is to increase your business acumen or start your own entrepreneurial venture, this one-of-a-kind boot camp experience will give you the knowledge and tools you need to succeed in any career.
Keep watching IAVA.org in the coming months for new details and application information. Thanks for your interest in IAVA and make sure to check out the Rucksack for other great educational and employment resources and opportunities!
Employers and Foundations: Want to support educational opportunities for new veterans? Contact us about sponsoring the next class of Fullbridge scholars by filling out our Partner Application.
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In just the last year, IAVA has connected hundreds of veterans with employers through innovative career fairs, helped over 10,000 veterans go to college on the New GI Bill, and provided mental health support to over 50,000 veterans—all at no cost to Member Veterans. Programs like these are only made possible through your generous support. Fight for those who fought for us and help us keep these resources and benefits completely free for new veterans and their families. DONATE >>
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