Veterans Learn to Apply Skills to Private Sector

Ten Iraq and Afghanistan veterans will learn to apply their military skills to the private sector during a three week business training program in which Harvard Business School professors and lecturers will serve as mentors.

The initiative, organized by the Fullbridge Program and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, is “a bit of an entrepreneurial boot camp,” said Michael Preston, strategic partnerships associate at IAVA.

The veterans will be chosen from a pool of over 300 applicants and will engage in everything from coursework on presentations to classes on finance, according to Preston.

Candice C. Olson, co-CEO and co-founder of the Fullbridge Program, said that one of the most important and unique aspects of the program are the personal mentors, who come from an array of top universities including HBS.

In addition to helping veterans translate their military skills into the private sector, mentors will also teach veterans new skills and evaluate veterans both professionally and academically in order to help them create a “career vision”, Olson said.

She added that in addition to personal mentoring on career vision, veterans will attend a two day career vision piece created in collaboration with Timothy Butler, director of career development programs at HBS.

IAVA founder and Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff said that veterans often face challenges becoming a part of the workforce once they return home.

“The numbers don’t lie—Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are struggling to find work once they return home. New veteran unemployment is well above the national average—two percentage points in October 2012 alone,” wrote Rieckhoff in a press release.

Preston said that the program will aim to not only educate veterans, but also to help employers understand the value of veterans’ unique skill sets.

Olson said she is confident that this program would prove a success.

Veterans “are a very talented, tested, group of people,” she said.

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