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What We’re Doing to Help Veterans Find Work

by Apr 24, 2013, 6:45 am ET

army“I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

That’s what former U.S. Marine Sergeant Tanner Horsley recalled of the incident while deployed that resulted in severe injuries and thus ending his promising military career. Since his medical retirement from the Corps, Horsley was uncertain of his professional future. He had been expecting to make the USMC a career like family members before him.

He is not alone in his thoughts. Every year, 160,000 military veterans are discharged from service; 15,000 annually in San Diego, making the region home to the nation’s largest number of veterans returning from wartime duty. For Horsley, and a group of young veterans, we helped answer the uncertain questions about their immediate future by accepting them to the Qualcomm Corporate Integration Program for Warrior Veterans.

Developed by Qualcomm and supported by the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, QCIP-Warriors is an initiative created to help wounded warriors and military veterans as they move from active duty to employment in the civilian world.

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Our mission is to assist our warrior veterans with corporate exposure and hands-on technical experience and empower them through professional development and integration. We have worked closely with SPAWAR and other military organizations on QCIP these past few years to ensure our veterans have the resources they need when they leave the service.

For the fifth time in two years, we have sponsored the twice annual, eight-week corporate integration program, with the assistance of internal volunteers and the local military community. The effort is designed to reach out to veterans who are transitioning into the civilian world, some of whom have sustained either physical or emotional injuries as a result of their deployment. The paid, part-time program is regimented yet flexible in that some of the veterans may be actively transitioning from the military and still attending ongoing appointments, counseling, or treatment. The program combines technical work experience with professional and career transition training plus dedicated mentorship and coaching.  Each “warrior” is paired with a Qualcomm employee who is also a military veteran and serves as an example of successful transition from the military to the corporate world.

Giving back to the community is a part of our corporate culture. In fact, every May is our global month of volunteerism in which the company allows its permanent employees worldwide the opportunity to volunteer up to four hours to make a positive impact in their communities. For some like Lisa Settlecowski in our Corporate Procurement and a former Marine herself, volunteering for QCIP-Warriors since 2011 has been a tremendous experience. “I’d been looking for ways to give back in the community when I heard about the QCIP program,” she told me. “It was so perfect for me because I got to use my experience as a Marine to help those transitioning out and I didn’t have to leave my workplace to volunteer.”

How it Works

Twelve to sixteen military veterans are selected for each rotation and assigned to various departments matching their technical backgrounds, skillsets, and professional career paths. As Qualcomm is an engineering and technology company, a majority of the positions have been in engineering support, technical testing, plant operations, and IT. But the program has also sponsored a number of Warriors in HR, legal, logistics, procurement, safety, and project management. In addition, they also participate in weekly professional development training and assessments as well as career transition workshops such as networking and job search skills, resume writing, and interview preparation. This added training provides the veterans with real corporate perspectives, insights, and feedback. Social and networking events are also scheduled throughout each rotation and have included Qualcomm’s CEO and other senior executives. To date, 79% of QCIP-Warrior participants have found full-time employment or internships at the end of their respective programs.

For Horsley, his professionalism and positive attitude paid off. QCIP-Warriors is not intended to be an employment program for Qualcomm, but at the end of his rotation he was hired on as a Release Engineer, Associate. “I still have a hard time believing that a typical Devil-dog like me made that jump to full-time employee here after being discharged just eight months ago … most of the young Marines I still talk to don’t believe it. All thanks to the QCIP-Warriors team.”

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  • Howard Adamsky

    Interesting article. Great cause. Strong mission and excellent content.

    Not one comment.

    A disgraceful display from the recruiting community.

    It speaks to values, or it speaks to lack of values. Forgive them Gerry.

  • Arron Daniels

    Great article. I applaud Qualcomm, and so should the rest of corporate America. Bravo, and well done.

    There is still more that needs to be done, and I believe that it starts with the recruiting industry. The function of recruiting is one of the most important functions within HR. It takes education, motivation, and a true passion to help our fellow warriors. But most importantly it will not have any ROI. Qualcomm realized this “QCIP-Warriors is not intended to be an employment program for Qualcomm…” “…79% of QCIP-Warrior participants have found full-time employment or internships…” In my opinion, you shouldn’t ask for an ROI. The investment is in the Veterans, not you or your company. IF you can find a happy medium, my hat is off to you.

    Few of us have the resources to engage in an entire program. That should never be a deterrent. Educate yourself.

    1. Think you know your industry? Go find your industry in the military and translate a few MOSs from each of the services that apply to you. Know what to look for.

    2. Be prepared to sell a military candidate. There are some people that still think the military was a last ditch effort for people that were on their way to jail or couldn’t hack it in college. They have some of the best and the brightest.

    3. Start pipe-lining your Veteran candidates but SHARE them. I know it’s a crazy idea, but this is for them NOT you.

    4. Take action and educate your colleagues, build business plans for your corporation to execute, or just start your own internal veteran process.

    You are either veteran friendly or you aren’t. No one is saying you have to move mountains, but it only takes one person to start something big. Start small and keep it simple. It’s better than nothing and you may surprise yourself.

    Here are a few tips that I pass along that Jessica Miller Merrell was kind enough to let me post on her site. http://goo.gl/CCfQV

    Good hunting,

    Arron

  • Keith Halperin

    @ Gerry. I commend you and Qualcomm for helping our veterans. While counseling, training, and educating them are useful, far more useful would be to HIRE THEM. I challenge Qualcomm and the other Fortune 500 to commit to yearly hire at least 100 combat veterans for full-time benefited positions paying starting salaries of $50,000-$70,000/yr (enough for a middle-class family most places). If suitable positions don’t already exist, then the companies should create them. These wouldn’t be handouts- our returning combat veterans have EARNED these positions with their courage, their honor, and often their blood. Some might wonder where the money for this would come from. Well, if companies chose not to use some of their healthy ($6.1 B in 2012 for Qualcomm) profits to pay our returning heroes, then perhaps it could come from some of the CEO’s compensation- for example, Qualcomm’s CEO Paul Jacobs could have paid for the entire one hundred combat veterans’ salaries and benefits (call each $90,000/yr) and still have taken home $27.33 M (http://www.forbes.com/lists/2012/12/ceo-compensation-12_land.html). Finally if profits and CEO compensation are untouchable “sacred cows,” Qualcomm’s 26,600 employees could evenly share the burden (What a strange concept?) by putting in $6.51/week.

    Anyway, I won’t hold my breath on this- companies like to talk a good line, but are often reluctant to seriously “walk their talk” where things like this are concerned….

    @ Arron: “You are either veteran friendly or you aren’t.”
    If I may modify: “You will either commit to *hire veterans or you won’t.”

    -Keith

    * Not “train” or “counsel” or “educate” or “assist” or “guide” or “help” but HIRE.

  • Kathryn Hammelman

    Great work Gerry. There is no one size fits all solution for all corporations out there. You have led the way with an innovative and positive program which continues to grow and improve. This program empowers the veterans to achieve employment through the much needed transition assistance that is currently lacking. Empowerment can lead to longer term and more diverse positive results than making a hire where there might not be a fit.

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  • Keith Halperin

    @ Kathryn: Our heroes don’t need to be “empowered”, THEY NEED TO BE HIRED. I refuse to believe that a Fortune 500 company can’t find or create 100 decent, good-match $50-$70k positions a year for our combat veterans and *if anyone would give there all to achieve something/make it work, I think it would be those vets. If nothing else, you could put some of them on the Boards of Directors and have them go to a few meetings/year for their compensation. They’d do a lot better there than many of the existing board members, who unquestioningly approve those 8-figure comp packages for the CEOs…

    Keith “Don’t PRETEND to Care: COMMIT to Hire 100 Combat Veterans Per Year at Your Fortune 500 Company” Halperin

    *If you had to have them working as $50-$70k janitors or servers in your cafeterias, don’t you think many of them would commit to being the best janitor or server you’d have ever seen?

  • Howard Adamsky

    Brilliant words Keith. I thank you.

  • Keith Halperin

    Thanks, Howard. I’m not a vet, but my dad was in WWII. The GI Bill helped him and millions of other vets. I’ve been opposed to most wars (like Vietnam and GWII) we’ve gotten into since I’ve been alive, but I think that those who served are heroes who have usually been s***** by the American government, which tosses them aside when they’re no longer needed, allowing many of them to be homeless. What particularly galls me is major companies who do what I’m calling “vetwashing”: making minor gestures toward employing vets without actually committing to hire them.

    Keith

  • Arron Daniels

    @Keith, I agree with you that our Veterans need to be hired, but not just any random job. Veterans, like any other candidate out there, have aspirations, goals, and ambitions.
    I believe that fortune 500 companies can make 100 jobs for veterans if not 1000. It takes leadership from within the company to make that happen. One would still have to produce a business plan, get buy in, show an intangible ROI for the company, and really sell the idea because believe it or not, there are people and companies out there that don’t really care… They are missing out on the most agile, tempered, and quick- thinking labor force on the planet.

    What Companies Can Do:
    1. Identify a Veteran Advocate within the HR or recruiting department to identify talent fitting with the company and go, go, go!
    2. Network and reach out to the transition programs, Veteran networks (IAVA, H2H, VA, etc)
    3. Read between the lines with Veteran candidates and be a little more flexible. They may have reserve obligations, medical appointments, etc.
    4. Take advantage of the VOW Act and use those funds to establish a Veteran program or services within your organization.
    5. Get away from the negative images that Veterans are “uneducated.” They may not have letters and decimals behind their names, but to assume they are uneducated is a serious mistake. Take a serious look at the resumes and what Veteran candidates were actually doing.
    6. Remember business acumen can be taught.

    What Veteran Candidates Can Do:
    1. Speak English and stop using acronyms on resumes until recruiters and HR departments can catch up.
    2. Use the transition tools in front of them and network with Veteran friendly programs
    3. Research their skills they learned in the military and find the civilian equivalent. Or if they don’t like what they did in the military, use the G.I. Bill to get a different skill set.
    4. Have an exit strategy before you leave (if you can some of our brothers and sisters aren’t expecting to leave).
    This is a great conversation. What else can we do?

    Respectfully,
    Arron Daniels

  • Keith Halperin

    ,Thanks, Arron. These are valuable realistic steps.
    “What else can we do?”

    This is what you can do:
    If you’re a Fortune 500 company commit to and do what it takes (your steps, QCIP-warriors training/resources/etc, DVA programs, vet and community-service orgs, business groups {USCC, The Business Roundtable}) to SUCCESSFULLY hire 100 combat veterans/yr at benefitted, $50-$70k/yr jobs for the next 10 years. We’ll call it “Hire the 100 Heroes” Campaign, until somebody comes up with a better title. If you just train and don’t commit to hiring, it implicitly says:
    “Well they’re good enough for somebody else, BUT NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR US.”

    -kh