Donte is an excellent example of the results of hard work and commitment.

“My Transition” #41: Donte Anderson — Military Legal Operations Manager to CURRENT JOB SEEKER

Donte served his nation faithfully for over two decades and is now in search of his next career as a senior paralegal or similar.

Cheraw, South Carolina — Often, there are stories of transition that are downright inspiring. After growing up in the inner city of Baltimore, Dante joined the Air Force to find purpose, meaning and direction. He completed his Bachelor’s and Masters degrees while serving, and was responsible for leading the 4th largest legal office in the United States Air Force. Now, he’s hitting the ground running in the civilian world and looking for his next opportunity.

DJS: Why did you join the military?

DA:

I joined the military because I recognized that I need to do something different with my life. Growing up in Baltimore had its challenges and I knew I needed to do something different with my life.

I considered trying to attend the Air Force Academy, but quite frankly my grades weren’t good enough. I graduated from high school in June 1991. A few days after graduation, I received a call from a Navy recruiter who inquired about my interest in the Navy.

After listening to the spiel, I asked him if I had to get on a “boat”? He said that I would have to at some point. I thanked him, hung up and dialed the Air Force recruiter.

He described what it would take to join the Air Force. I walked about a mile to his office and when my mother got home that evening, she found me and my recruiter sitting on her couch. We talked for a little while and I convinced my mother to let me join the Air Force. I had too because I was only 17.

I joined the military because I recognized that I need to do something different with my life.

DJS: Do you think your military skills will translate well into other jobs?

DA:

I believe that my leadership and management skills will translate well into other jobs, because those traits can be “plug and play” in some regards. My paralegals skills will also prove to be valuable even though I am no longer the technical expert in my field. The general knowledge and skills that I have learned over the past 21 years should help serve as a baseline as I enter the civilian workforce.

DJS: You got a full education while in the military. How did you manage this and what advice would you give to other service members about education?

DA:

Start early! My initial goal was to come in and get an education right away…then life happened. Although, I received my Associates of Applied Science Degrees in Criminal Justice and Paralegal Studies, I had been in 23 years before I earned my Bachelor’s Degree. It was one of the proudest moments in my military career. I thought of stopping there, but I decided to transfer my GI Bill benefits to my daughters and once that was done, I decided to complete my Masters. So my advice would be to start early, but more importantly…never quit.

My initial goal was to come in and get an education right away…then life happened… I had been in 23 years before I earned my Bachelor’s Degree. It was one of the proudest moments in my military career.

DJS: What experience do you bring to the table as a job seeker now?

DA:

I previously led the 4th largest legal office in the United States Air Force for the Air Force’s largest combat wing. I provided guidance and advice on a myriad of issues to the General Counsel in support of 25K members who helped maintain over $6 billion dollars in aircraft & equipment. I was responsible for supporting a staff of 31, made up of attorneys, paralegals, and U.S. and Japanese civilians. I was the approving official for all travel and directly managed the office’s $65K budget and any criminal trial expenses which could exceed $500K annually. As a recruiter for the paralegal profession, I vetted members for possible inclusion. Finally, I provided mentorship and guidance to junior attorneys and paralegals.

… I provided guidance and advice on a myriad of issues to the General Counsel in support of 25K members who helped maintain over $6 billion dollars in aircraft & equipment. I was responsible for supporting a staff of 31, made up of attorneys, paralegals, and U.S. and Japanese civilians…

DJS: What is the hardest piece of transition?

DA:

The hardest piece of the transition is not being confident of what comes next. For the past 25 and a half years, I have received a check on the 15th and the 1st and now that is coming to an end. My main concern is wondering how I will continue to support my family during this transition. I am not too concerned about me, but not knowing how I will continue to take care of my family after all these years of being able to do so is the hardest piece of the transition.

… not knowing how I will continue to take care of my family after all these years of being able to do so is the hardest piece of the transition.

DJS: What one piece of advice do you have for anyone reading this?

DA:

Start early and start networking now. You never know which connection you make will become the center piece of your successful transition.

Biackground

Senior Master Sergeant Donté Anderson is the Law Center Superintendent for the Kadena Law Center, Kadena AB, Japan. In this capacity he serves as the principal advisor to the Staff Judge Advocate on all enlisted matters. His paralegal team provides legal support to the largest combat wing in the United States Air Force.

In December 1991, he joined the United States Air Force and began his career as a Security Specialist. He retrained into the Paralegal Career Field in 1996 where he has served for the past 21 years.

Sergeant Anderson earned Associates of Applied Science Degrees in Criminal Justice and Paralegal Studies. A Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Strategic Leadership and will graduate with his Masters of Arts Degree in Executive Leadership in December of 2017.

Recommended resources

Onward to Opportunity sponsored by JP Morgan Chase — An incredible training and opportunities resource to help transitioning veterans launch forward into their next career.

LinkedIn Veteran Mentor Network — The Veteran Mentor Network inspires military members, military spouses, and veterans, and helps these individuals establish and achieve job search, career, and life goals, so that they lead fulfilling, satisfying, and productive lives.

Transition Assistance Course-Interview Day (6 Oct 17)
Airman Leadership School Mentor and Guest Speaker
Official Air Force Photo

Are you interested in sharing your story of transition? Or are you a military transition specialist who would like to share some tips? Send me an email at MilitaryTransitionStories@gmail.com

The goal of this series is to bridge the military-civilian divide in three ways: 1) Highlight the incredible skills and value that military veterans of all generations and backgrounds bring into the workplace. 2) Help transitioning veterans understand their true value and therefore aim as high as possible in their employment and educational goals. 3) Discuss the common struggles, pitfalls and indicators of success in veteran transition, in order to provide better transition assistance from both military and civilian sides.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
David Smith

Hubby & daddy. USMC veteran. Marketing professional. Entrepreneur. I like mountains, whisky, travel and mischief. Live in Norway. Insta: @americanvikinginnorway