The Veterans Education Training and Transition Program (VET2) Provides Opportunities for Military
As a retired Army lieutenant colonel, James Wilburn understands firsthand the challenges of transitioning from the military to civilian employment. That’s why one of his first priorities as the military academic program director for Georgia Tech Professional Education was to launch the Veterans Education Training and Transition Program (VET2) back in August 2013. The program is one of the first of its kind in the nation, accepting both active and former service members. He spoke about the need for this program and how it is changing lives.
Why is this type of continuing education important to transitioning veterans?
The high unemployment rate for veterans is a national concern, and the challenge veterans face in successfully transitioning to the civilian workforce will remain in the spotlight as the size of our military is reduced to pre-World War II levels. With so many of our veterans deciding to make Georgia their home, we feel Georgia Tech has a lot to offer our servicemen and women as they begin a new career, from the new online Master of Science in Computer Science to our unique VET2 program.
What is VET designed to do?
At the most basic level, our goal is to help veterans find good jobs after leaving the military. While there is no shortage of resources to help with the transition, the services tend to be spread out and difficult to access. Some offer help with resumes and interviewing. Others provide a credential or certificate. And there are plenty of support networks as well. Our program offers all this in one place. We also help veterans understand the differences between the military and civilian workplace and how to make the necessary adjustments so they can be successful in an office environment.
How does the program work?
We partner with corporate sponsors interested in hiring veterans. The program is four weeks in duration and consists of a one-week academic phase and a three week placement phase. During the first week, service members learn about their corporate sponsors and prepare for the internship. The next three weeks are spent at the corporate sponsor site in an internship. Service members also participate in evening classes during the internship that focus on socialization, communication and presentation skills. On the last day of the program, students present what they have learned during the internship to the corporate sponsor.
What’s the cost?
There are no costs to service members participating in this program and no requirements to use educational benefits provided by the VA. Corporate sponsors are asked to pay an hourly wage to our veterans during the internship, but active duty personnel participating in the program cannot receive an hourly wage – they are unpaid interns. In many cases the state workforce board funds the program so there are no costs to the corporate sponsor either. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Who is eligible to participate?
Prior to 2014, only veterans who had separated honorably from the military could participate in VET2. Last year, the Department of Defense authorized active duty service members to participate in internship programs if they were within 180 days of separating from the military.
Is there a competitive selection process for a limited number of slots?
A unique aspect of this course is that a seat in the classroom does not exist unless there is a position available with the employer. The program is very competitive with a 22 percent selection rate (44 percent for active duty). We offer the program once per quarter, but the course frequency and availability of positions in the class are determined by the hiring needs of the corporate sponsors.
What is your selection rate?
Since the program launched in August 2013, we maintain a 100% job offer rate for the service members completing the course.
What’s the most important advice you received during your military transition that you want to share with others?
You will need to adapt to be successful, but never deviate from the value system you practiced while wearing the uniform: loyalty, duty, respect for others, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.
Interview courtesy “Boots to Suits” Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine, 2014
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