It is well known at Virtual Service Operations (VSO) that our company’s founding principles are to utilize some of the most disciplined and deserving workforces that can be found: US military veterans.
Less known is that VSO is one of the 2800 companies that has partnered with SkillBridge– an effort from the Department of Defense (DoD) that helps connect soon-to-be-retired (or soon-to-be separated) military personnel to civilian jobs before they’ve officially separated. VSO began using the SkillBridge program to enhance its workforce and provide opportunities for military personnel to gain valuable experience. Since partnering with SkillBridge, seven veterans have taken advantage of the program at VSO with an eighth scheduled to start in May. To date, there has been 100% job placement for VSO’s SkillBridge fellows.
Duke Birch, Director of Veteran Programs at VSO is a huge advocate of the SkillBridge program. “This program is beneficial to the service member and to VSO. It also lends itself to a diverse range of military ranks. At VSO, we’ve had ranks from corporate to colonel go through the program.”
VSO’s very first SkillBridge fellow, Trenton Keen came across a post on LinkedIn during his last year of service about an exciting opportunity for transitioning service members. After serving in the Army National Guard for eight years as a scout and three years as an artilleryman, Keen recalls being timid about entering into the civilian workforce.
“In the Guard, I was not technical at all and I was very nervous about coming into the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cohort with no background in IT. It was quite a culture shock,” says Keen. “But I owe VSO everything and SkillBridge for connecting us. The soft skills I gained through this program are second to none. Having other veterans as my mentors and VSO in my corner was invaluable,” says Keen, who credits VSO with making his transition into civilian work life so much easier than it might have been.
“We have three different paths you could take as a participant in the SkillBridge program: network training, senior leader, or project/program manager. On average, we have about five people per month applying for a position at VSO through SkillBridge. If VSO doesn’t have a fit for them, I try to help them find a fit,” says Birch, speaking of how successful the program has been at the company. “We have 100% mentorship participation. Everyone at VSO is very supportive of SkillBridge.”
After completing his apprenticeship and going through the rigorous 16-week AWS cohort in 2021, Keen was ready to enter the civilian workforce, and he was hired by VSO full-time as a Military Apprentice – Solution Architect Apprentice. Now, almost two years later, Keen reports that work-life at VSO is going well. “I have a great working relationship with everyone at VSO that I have had the opportunity to work with. I really enjoy the veteran culture here,” Keen says clearly thankful for the work he gets to do with the VSO team.
“We just want more people to know about the program,” says Birch. To join in with over 2800 companies partnering with SkillBridge to assist military personnel in transitioning to a civilian career, visit the website http://skillbridge.osd.mil for more information.