Transitioning from the Military to Civilian Life: Words of Wisdom from Nestlé Vets

Four current and former service-members weigh in on new ways of working

At Nestlé, we’re committed to hiring the best talent, including members of the armed services transitioning to civilian working life. The transition can be challenging but presents great opportunities for veterans and businesses alike. I spoke to three Nestlé apprentices and one recruitment expert, each of whom is serving or has served in the military, about these opportunities.

What is it like for veterans initially adapting to civilian life?

Matt — Anderson, Indiana; E&C Technician Apprentice, Army Veteran: It’s quite a bit different, you go from a lot of structure to doing things on your own. A lot of people who leave the military, the thing they find hard is finding a house and a job — you have to find those pretty quickly, so lots of people don’t leave their hometown once they come back.

Rowan — Laurel, Maryland; Maintenance Mechanic Apprentice, U.S. Army Reserves: The big difference for me is that, in the military, you live with the people you work with. You become a family. It’s just a totally different working experience because of that, and you’re on a very strict schedule that you have to follow every day.

Patrick serves with the U.S. Army Reserves alongside his Nestlé Apprenticeship

Patrick — Fremont, Michigan; Maintenance Mechanic Apprentice, U.S. Army Reserves: In the military you always know what you’re going to do ahead of time, there’s so much structure. Here I've found that I don’t always know. You get called to do different things, and that’s a strange adaptation. I’ve actually found that to be a relief — constantly learning, constantly doing something new — that really suits me.

Can U.S. businesses improve their support for veterans in transition and the challenges you face?

Lisa — Human Resources, Army Veteran: My initial experience applying for work was strange, I was really grilled about why I went into the military, it seemed to play against me and it was an interesting transition period. That was different at Nestlé — I was 7 years out of the military when I applied here, but even in the interview process the gratitude and accolade for my service was incredible.

Click this image to read more about Lisa’s experience transitioning to civilian work

Patrick: There’s so many opportunities to treat veterans better — I just know that there’s still a lot of kinks in the system. I don’t have the solution, it’s something we all need to work on. I think Nestlé does a good job of hiring veterans. They cater for me being in the reserves, when I’m on active duty they make up the difference in salary, so I don’t have to take a pay cut while I’m away.

Matt: I actually find that a lot of companies, including Nestlé, really appreciate military experience. I’ve never applied for a job where it hasn’t been an advantage because people see you as reliable.

What was your experience starting work at Nestlé, and how did your military experience impact you?

Matt served in the U.S. Army during 2001–2006

Matt: Starting anywhere new has its difficulties, but I really wish that when I was in college I’d had the kind of structure I have in this apprenticeship program now. The structure of theoretical + practical learning really helps me to feel confident in retaining information.

Patrick: Even basic military training teaches you so much discipline and how to get things done. Like running: I hate running, it’s awful — but I do it anyway. I don’t think I could have done this apprentice program if it weren’t for my personal development in the military. I was totally new to the mechanical field but because of the confidence the military gave me, I knew I could adapt.

Rowan serves with the U.S. Army Reserves

Rowan: You work with so many people in the military, often in stressful situations, it really prepares you to be a team player. I think that helps. It means that a lot of people who serve have great leadership skills.

Patrick: The military doesn’t change who you are, they just make it more defined. For a lot of people, they take those inner qualities and they bring them out, they make them shine.

Learn more about our work with veterans:

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