Season 3 Episode 117: Focusing on the Next Chapter with Jesse Gemberling-Jones

Having served in the United States Marine Corps as an infantry officer, Jesse Gemberling-Johnson uses skills he developed in the military as the Director of Talent Recruitment and Development for MCFA, a service-disabled veteran-owned small business and consulting firm. With 15 years of project leadership and human capital strategy experience, he works with both public and private sector clients in the architecture, engineering and construction industries. He recently published a thesis, “An Organizational Guide to Leveraging Military Veteran Human Capital,” that highlights how nontechnical skills developed in the military translate into the civilian workforce. 

When Jesse left the military, he decided to stay in Southern California. With no family obligation or mortgage, Jesse lived day-to-day and enjoyed his unstructured life. Within 2 months, Jesse realized he needed a plan and moved back to Philadelphia to rely on his network of family and friends. Jesse believes that if you are adaptive and willing to take opportunities that are presented to you, then you will find your way. While his first job out of the military was not a good fit, Jesse learned from the experience and moved on to a sequence of better opportunities. He encourages other service members to focus on the next chapter of their life, not necessarily the next 20 years. Research, gather data and make a decision that will serve you and your family for the foreseeable future. You can always pivot and change directions. 

The transition is more than checking the J-O-B box. For many people, the military is an integral part of their identity. It’s important for veterans to figure out what their connection and affiliation with their military service is going to be when they leave the military. Although it took Jesse many years to identify what is important to him and what drives him, he encourages every transitioning service member to take time for introspection. Since leaving the military, Jesse has noticed that people are motivated in the workforce by one of three things: the mission of the organization, the technical skills they utilize or the relationships they build while at work. 

Jesse recently wrote a graduate thesis that focused on utilizing veterans and their skills in the workplace. After interviewing 106 working veterans from all branches, ranks and 9 industries, Jesse was able to identify 5 nontechnical skills that veterans bring to the workplace: Creativity & Collaboration, Adaptability & Resilience, Servant Leadership, Effectiveness under Pressure, Visibility into Diverse Work Teams. Jesse encourages veterans to market these skills to potential employers. On the flip side, employers should make it a goal to focus on the unique abilities of their employees, especially veterans. 

Through his research, Jesse has identified 4 common mindsets that veterans approach the transition with. Each of them has its own challenges. 

Ø  The Overestimator: The civilian workforce owes me for my service.

Ø  The Underestimator: I don’t think I’ll succeed outside of the military.

Ø  The Student Veteran: I will seek out education after my service ends.

Ø  Searcher: I have no idea what to do next.

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