Season 4 Episode 162: Rate My SkillBridge with Ethan Shipp

On this episode of the Lessons Learned for Vets podcast, we welcome Ethan Shipp. Ethan began his career in the United States Air Force as an EMT but has since retrained as an information systems technician. Although he is still serving, he used his tech skills to create a resource designed to empower and inform service members about the many different SkillBridge programs. Ethan started Rate My SkillBridge after doing research for his own SkillBridge program and identifying an opportunity to help others make informed decisions during their career transition.


About two years prior to his separation date, Ethan began researching SkillBridge programs. He joined The SkillBridge Network on Facebook and was intrigued by a post written by a service member who had flown back to the US from overseas to intern for a company that used them for free labor. Ethan realized the need for a rating system to protect service members. He went to work creating a website using WordPress and released it one month later. The site gained an enormous amount of traction in a short time and Ethan knew he needed to rebuild the platform and advance the website. Service members can now create accounts and personalize their dashboards. Ethan is not charging service members for this resource. He is currently funding the website by himself.


Ethan is finding that service members are rating companies fairly consistently. His website is offering service members an invaluable resource as they move toward their career transition. Some service members rely on their SkillBridge company to offer them a job after the internship phase is completed. While the goal of the program is just that, there are some instances where that may not happen. Ethan encourages service members to apply for multiple jobs and not rely solely on SkillBridge. Ethan also encourages people to have multiple SkillBridge opportunities lined up. It is possible that a company will cancel the program if a job opportunity is no longer available. This may happen due to the economy or company restructuring.


Ethan has noticed a recent trend of people working more hours than allotted by the program. Working long hours is unfortunately not just an issue with the SkillBridge program. As a salaried employee, it’s important to assess the employer’s expectations versus your own expectations. For many veterans, working extra hours may not be expected but they feel a sense of responsibility to keep giving. Companies will take advantage of that work ethic.


For SkillBridge companies who are operating against SkillBridge policies and parameters, Ethan believes that the DoD is beginning to take action to protect service members. For service members, it’s important to make your issues heard through resources like Rate My SkillBridge.


Ethan is currently stationed in Italy and wants to continue living overseas after his separation. The job search process outside of the US can be very different. One example is the curriculum vitae (CV). The CV is typically only used in the US for doctors, lawyers and professors. However, it is the standard for most every profession outside of the US. While the typical resume in the US is no longer than 2 pages, the CV is a comprehensive document that may be several pages long. LinkedIn is used by overseas companies, so plan to have an updated profile.


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