Join Florent Groberg for an in-depth discussion in this video Shawn Trisler's transition story, part of Florent Groberg on Finding Your Purpose after Active Duty.
- I'm originally from Austin Texas and joined the Navy right out of high school. At that time Austin was the smallest city in the world, and I just wanted to get as far away from it as I possibly good. I joined 1988 and immediately went overseas, spent the next 27 years living around the world, countries in Asia, and Europe, United States, I mean, the most amazing experience. I started out as an enlisted sailor. My specialty was in the common information center, the nerve center of the ships where we'd fight the ship from and then my sub-specialty was an air intercept controller, and I controlled fighters, navy fighters, marine corp fighters, at that time the F-14s and then the F-18s.
Not as an air controller, but as an intercept controller in the dogfight, so the Top Gun movie, the guys that are directing the dogfights, that's what I did. One of the best jobs I've ever had, and did that for several years. I was a first class pay officer and I was selected for a commission under a program called the Limited Duty Officer Program, and that program, the top 1% of enlisted sailors in the Navy, less than 1% are considered for a commission, you compete for a commission, and I was selected my first time up, so it was fantastic. I was an officer for 15 years before I retired at 27 years.
I had the privilege of leading men and women in different organizations all around the world, and so with my prior enlisted perspective, I had a different aspect on commanding sailors and leading sailors, so I was very privileged. In 2015, actually last June, a year ago, June 1st, it was time to transition out of the navy and retire. And it was made solely on the needs of my family. If it was up to me I'd still be doing it, I'd be doing it for the rest of my life.
I believe the military was the best job in the world anybody could have. And so I transitioned out and now I currently work with a company called General Dynamics Information Technologies and I do doctrine development, tactics development for integrated air missile defense, ballistic missile defense, intercepting ballistic missiles as they're targeting our sailors and our country, so that's what I do now. So when I decided to retire and make the transition, I had an idea of where I wanted to be. I knew I wanted to be in corporate America, I knew I wanted to build on my leadership skills.
I knew that I still had a lot of things to offer, and I wanted a complete different change. I wanted something different, for 27 years I'd been doing this, I wanted something different. So I started looking into corporations, looking at COO type of positions, operations positions, and moving into that area. When I started the process I thought that there were going to be just tons of opportunities out there for me. And about two months into it, when you're not getting any responses, I started realizing that this is a lot more difficult than I'd anticipated and what I thought, and I felt like I couldn't break through, I couldn't get to the next level.
I knew if I could get into an interview, I could win any job, I knew this. So I shifted my focus and I started using a recruiter, a head hunter, if you will, and they're able to showcase your talents and they had access. I looked at a bunch of different groups, each had their own special abilities, and then I went with one that I felt helped me. And instantaneously, I started getting interviews. I think I did 120 resumes in four months, 80 interviews, 40 call-backs, 20 second call-backs, and I'm through that door, well what happened as I got through that door, once I was in the room, these companies wanted me, and they wanted me right away.
And the recruiters, I would go to hiring fairs, and I would interview with 15 different companies in a hotel, in a Weston in Seattle in a two hour period, in different industries, and by the time I would leave, they were contacting my recruiter saying, 10 or 12 of these, this is the guy we want, we want this. The problem is, they want to hire you in at a pay level of someone that's coming at 26 years old out of college because of the level of your experience. So they want the leadership capability, but the compensation was below what I could take for quality of life for my family.
So there is a two part difficulty here. It's getting through the door, and where a lot of resumes are screened out because of the automation process that companies are using and that it doesn't translate directly, and the computer sees you need these talents, these skills, five years of this, well, when you look across the spectrum of the resume, there's 25 years in there, but it's because it doesn't say five specific, these candidates are being screened out before they're even getting looked at. And then once you get through the door and you get into the interviews, another hurdle that you're coming across is over 20 years of experience in a field, if you were working 20 years in the IT industry and you're coming to a company, the position that you would be interviewed for and the position that you would take would be, you'd be paid commensurate with your level of expertise.
That's not necessarily the case, a lot of companies want to hire vets, they're really excited, especially when they get to meet us and sit down with us. And many times they told me, I really want you in this position, I can't pay you what you're worth, this is what this position pays. So there's a couple of different problems that you run into. So when I transitioned, I was fortunate enough, through networking, to be hired on very quickly by a company that treats me very well and I'm compensated fairly for what I do, they pay me well.
I feel valued, I feel respected. And in just the year that I've been there I've grown and really progressed along, and actually they've offered me two promotions in a year that I need to consider that they would like to offer me. So yes, it was a great transition. It is a great company, I still feel like there's so much more that I can do, there's so much further that I can go, and I still have this fire, I didn't know a year ago, I'm a complete different person than I was when I left a year ago, and I didn't know that this fire that was still in there, still motivating and driving you, it never goes away, and so now you need to find other ways to satisfy that.
And so I think I have a lot more to offer still. So as you're transitioning out, the need for help, and this is something that can be really difficult. It actually is very difficult for veterans to do, is ask for help. You need help. Every interview that I got, every opportunity that I was afforded was because of someone else. And that's something that goes through our whole career. Our success is built on the people that work for us and the people that we work for. My success is based on the people that I've surrounded myself around, and they're helping you along.
And you need to continue that. You can go it alone, and there are a few that I've seen and known in my nearly three decades of military service that transitioned out that knew exactly where they were going to go and what they were going to do, and they had the position set up, but those are few and far between and extremely rare. The other thing is we owe a huge debt of gratitude to the vets that came before us, and particularly the Vietnam vets who didn't have this same situation when they came back. And they're the ones that started this whole movement, and I saw it since I came in in '88, in '91 when I went to the first Iraq war, Persian Gulf, and those Vietnam vets who didn't have that same experience when they came home, they started this movement to really show their gratefulness.
And now today you can walk in any airport and if you're in a uniform, somebody's going to thank you for your service, and you may get a beer in a bar and they're going to thank you, and that's great. And it's not needed, none of us need it, and we actually feel kind of awkward accepting it, because our job is so fun, you kind of feel guilty, it is, it's the best job in the world. It is absolutely the greatest job in the world. Join the military folks, blow things up, it's awesome. So it is appreciated, and we're there, but it's because the people that came before us, and then we need to continue to pay that forward.
And that's why I'm involved with this project. I'm helping the ones that are coming after me because somebody helped me.
Discover how to understand your strengths and value, where your skills fit into today's job market, and how to translate your experience into a solid resume. Learn how a mentor can help you navigate the transition and open up new opportunities. With Flo's advice, you can find a new purpose and continue the journey you started in the military—bringing your talents to bear on a whole new mission in life.
- Taking initiative
- Understanding your value
- Translating your experiences
- Building your resume
- Using a mentor
- Setting realistic expectations
- Building a network
- Transitioning into a new job
- Bonus videos featuring stories of transition from veterans