One of the biggest shocks for Marines returning to civilian life is the difference in the employment life. There are many differences between the civilian work environment and the military work environment. The change is a significant one. The more a Marine can prepare for the return to the civilian life, the easier the transition will be.
It can be a surprise to realize that the level of responsibility a Marine held while in the Marine Corps is not always translated into the civilian world. The importance that a Marine felt during a mission is often absent when working a civilian job. The reason is that in the Marine Corps Marines are taught that their presence and contribution are essential to mission success. They are important to the success or failure of the task at hand. Making photocopies or telephone calls in a civilian job kind of pales in comparison.
There is no longer a feeling that the individual is needed because they are a Marine. Instead, the sentiment could be that any warm body could meet the tasks that a civilian job needs. It can be quite a blow to a Marine’s ego and pride.
The conversion or translation of what a Marine did while in the Marine Corps into a civilian job is often a murky one. Many find it difficult to adequately convey their acquired military skills into the civilian equivalent. This can lead to frustration for the Marine.
Just because a Marine has served in the military does not mean he or she will land a good paying job on that merit alone. A Marine must still sell him or herself on the qualities and skills that he or she possesses. At the end of the day, an employer is looking for the best fit for the job description, whether that person is prior military or not.
It is always a good idea to choose a military job (Military Occupational Specialty or MOS) that can translate well into the civilian job market. It helps make the transition easier once a Marine gets out.
The job market is still highly competitive as a result of the hard economic times in recent years. Now, a four-year degree is not longer a guarantee of a good paying job. The sentiment that going to school will yield a good job and therefore a good life is no longer a relevant and sure thing. Marines must still be highly competitive in their job skills to compete with the rest of the civilian population. This is true even with the veteran’s preference program where veterans are given first consideration when applying for some jobs.
The best advice for Marines who are still active duty is to go to school while they are in and start planning for a life outside of the Marine Corps. Gain experience in their job skill category and work to translate their military skills into civilian equivalents. Also, learn how to generate a resume. A Marine should do everything they can do to prepare for the civilian world before he or she gets out. It can be the difference between success or failure in the civilian world.
Source: Personal experience