Season 2 Episode #15: Leaning on Mentors with Richard Comitz
Rich Comitz retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the US Army in 2019 and wrapped up his career as a Professor at the US Military Academy at West Point. After working in higher education for just over 2 years, Rich took on the role of Senior Vice President of American Corporate Partners, or ACP, at the end of 2021.
It is believed that officers, especially those like Rich with advanced degrees, slide right into new roles in their post-military career with no issues. That is not always the case. No matter your rank, no matter your education level and experience, every veteran faces struggles and has some level of anxiety about the transition.
Rich is here to talk about his process and share the importance of mentorship as you face the uncertainty of the post-military phase of your career.
Rich struggled early in his transition, he believes that one the biggest issues was his ability to translate his experience and a lack of understanding of the industry he was targeting were key reasons for his struggles in the job search. He took a step back in his career, but he was quickly promoted after landing a role in higher education.
He also failed to network during his transition planning process. He has learned, especially through his work at ACP, just how important networking is to the job search process. Networking, mentorship and informational interviews can help you practice how to talk about your military experience and how to translate it so that anyone can understand.
You must make the effort to translate your military experience, you can’t force the private sector employers to gain an understanding. You must find the approach to get through to your audience. Mentorship with someone in your target industry is a critical part of bridging this communication gap.
Rich used the “spray and pray” method – a particularly ineffective job search method that can quickly burn you out on the job search. He applied to at least 200 jobs during his transition. He was unfocused in his search and was using the same approach to each position without much tailoring of his resume. He applied without knowing the level of compensation. Though he had a few interviews, many of them offered a salary far below what he was seeking.
If you are truly taking the most effective targeted and focused approach to the job search, which Lori details in the episode, then you really should only have time to apply to 5-10 jobs per week. However, you will get much better results from sending out fewer high-quality replies to a targeted job search.
Rich took a role at a lower level than he was truly qualified, but he was promoted quickly when he demonstrated his abilities. He got to the point that he could not go any higher unless someone else left the organization. He decided that he needed to look externally to progress his career.
Veterans are used to taking on tasks above and beyond their assigned duties. In the private sector, when they learn that you can take on other tasks, they tend to keep piling on those tasks. You may find yourself doing more than your peers, but you are still being compensated for only one role. You deserve to be compensated fairly for the work you are doing. If they ask you to do more, you don’t have to say yes without asking for additional compensation.
Rich gives us an overview of American Corporate Partners (ACP), a national non-profit organization that provides one-on-one customized mentorship partnering for a full year. The mentee can dictate what industry and what level at which they’d like to receive a mentor. They meet for a minimum of an hour each month for a full year. Start with the ACP program within the last year of your service to help you prepare for the transition, but also to prepare for your first few months on the job once you land a role.
Go to ACP’s website to take advantage of this amazing FREE service and all that their mentors can help you with.
You can connect with Rich Comitz on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/richard-comitz
You can follow American Corporate Partners on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/company/american-corporate-partners/
Learn more about ACP on their website at www.acp-usa.org
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