Transitioning into a Career in Finance: A Guide for Military Veterans

In the military, there are instruction manuals, guidelines, and navigation for just about every stage of a military career. What about once you’re done? There may be no manual, but here are some insights and advice from veterans when segueing from a military career into a financial career.

Have a strong understanding of your skills:

Veterans tend to have the kind of skills finance leaders want. For example, as a veteran, you may have strong decision-making skills. You may also have exemplary leadership skills, which are necessary in the finance industry, depending on the track you are on. Other skills include determination—look back at your military career. You didn’t make it as far as you did without determination! Basic training alone can make or break individuals. That determination will take you far in a finance career. Organizational skills are another key skill–so many jobs in the military revolve around logistics and require meticulous attention to detail and deadlines. A career in finance revolves around tight deadlines, especially during tax season.

Learn the lingo: 

It always helps to know the most common terms and acronyms used in the finance industry. Read the finance news and look up words or terms you are unfamiliar with. Follow the banking industry and the issues affecting it. Try to familiarize yourself with the day-to-day applications used in the industry- Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and new AI systems. There are plenty of resources online to get you up to speed.

Understand company culture:

Every finance company is different. Learn about each one by reading company websites and following news about a company’s position in the industry. Knowing a company’s culture will help determine if it’s the right place for you. It’s important to ask yourself questions like: How much do they support their employees? Do you get a chance to move around if you find you want a bigger challenge or don’t find your first position is a good fit? How much emphasis does the company put on diversity and inclusion? Is it a place where people sincerely put the success of the team ahead of their own personal gain?

Use your military network:

Your military network is a great way to start the transition and get the word out that you are interested in the finance industry. There’s a clear career pathway in the financial industry that suits many veterans well. There is a lot of training available and a lot of creative and strategic opportunities, and some even have veteran programs that give a platform or a community where veterans can be together, share stories, and support each other within that industry or that company. These kinds of programs will be well known within your network. Ask your network about training opportunities that are available. This is a great way for you to transition and get your feet wet.

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