Success After Service: How Orgs Are Collaborating to Help Veterans Land Better Careers

What I love most about my work with Action Zone is that every day, I get to help veterans build successful and financially rewarding lives when they return to civilian life. 

But in doing that, I’m constantly reminded how much work still needs to be done to help our active duty service members prepare for their transition back to the civilian world and develop the skills they need for a new career. Don’t get me wrong—the Department of Defense has done a lot to improve this process. Prior to the GWOT (Global War on Terror) which has been going on for over two decades, the process basically consisted of a week of subpar classes right before a service member was supposed to get out, taught by an instructor who wasn’t an expert, that no one really paid attention to anyway. 

Today, there is a lot more structure and expertise behind these programs, and they tend to start a lot earlier, making them far more effective. Plus there are also a lot of powerful programs and partnerships in the works that will further help our veterans. 

But there’s only so much the government can do. 

The other side of the equation is private organizations. There are already tens of thousands of organizations that exist solely to serve our veterans, and this massive footprint creates a support structure for veterans on important topics like their career, finances, and even health, all across the country. 

Beyond that, there are many organizations that are focused on other missions, but still want to serve the veteran community as a secondary mission. Often these organizations bring considerable resources to the table, which might include capital, connections, and knowledge, among other assets. 

Johns Hopkins University recently caught my attention when I heard about an initiative they’ve undertaken to help veterans land high paying jobs in the real estate industry. My friend and fellow veteran, Adam Bird, first broke the story in his column at Newsmax.

Army veteran Jason Anderson, who is a part of this initiative, says, “Drastic changes in the real estate market over the last few years have presented new and dynamic challenges, however, with challenging times come new opportunities, and few demographics are as effective in environments like this as our veterans. I love that Johns Hopkins University is putting them at the forefront of that mission because I believe vets are uniquely qualified in so many ways.”

The foundation of the university’s program is, unsurprisingly, its Masters in Real Estate and Infrastructure program—which does qualify for the GI Bill.

But Johns Hopkins is also hosting a series of events where attendees have the opportunity to learn from leaders in the industry, network with real estate professionals, and meet with recruiters and career counselors—and they don’t charge anything for these opportunities. 

Program director and professor, Seydina Fall said the goal was to combine a robust real estate curriculum with the unique character traits and skills possessed by veterans, ushering the next cycle of real estate professionals into the industry. Fall says Johns Hopkins University specifically sought veterans because it’s a way to give back to those who have given so much for our country, and because their skills, experience, and character traits are incredibly valuable to their future employers.

“We have a board of advisors made up of executives from some of the most successful companies in the world, so we get to hear first hand exactly what they’re looking for in their employees. Some of the character traits these employers are looking for include grit, initiative, and leadership. Leadership especially, which they say is a lot harder to find these days. That’s why we’ve chosen to specifically seek out veterans for our program. They have stronger leadership skills and often have been placed in leadership roles far earlier than their civilian counterparts. And it goes without saying that the stakes are far higher in a military environment vs the civilian sector, so their leadership skills have been “pressure tested” in some of the harshest scenarios you can imagine. Employers can leverage that to build more capable and dynamic teams.”

Johns Hopkins recently hosted its inaugural event for this mission earlier in June featuring a panel of four of today’s top real estate experts, including Jason Anderson, a real estate broker, founder of VeteranPCS, and an Army veteran; Kim Kiyosaki, a real estate investor, developer, and co-founder of the Rich Dad Company; Dr. David Phelps, a nationally recognized finance and real estate expert, author, and founder of the real estate investing community, Freedom Founders; and Lori Greymont, a real estate investor, developer, and host of the real estate reality TV show, Funding Faceoff

Kiyosaki shared her thoughts, saying, “One of the most important things a real estate professional can do today is to get educated and to continue getting educated. Learn as much as you can now. Get prepared now for what is to come. So many factors in the world of real estate are changing at high speed, and in these changes, there will be winners and losers. I believe there will be a lot of opportunities for those who are prepared and can take advantage of them. Those who are more comfortable operating in chaotic and difficult environments like we’re seeing in today’s real estate market will thrive—and no one is better at operating in environments like this than our veterans. This mission is going to bring tremendous value to the real estate industry.”

Dr. David Phelps went on to say, “Veterans have a discipline and a work ethic already built in, which is missing out there in the workforce today, so I think real estate’s challenging environment is perfect for veterans. They have an affinity for it, they’re more mature, and they’ve already lived some life in some tough situations already. Ultimately, they get up every day and get after it. The character attributes veterans bring to the table are awesome assets for employers.”

And Lori Greyment said, “I have a special place in my heart for veterans, so I love what Johns Hopkins University is doing here, and I was excited to support this endeavor. I’ve worked with lots of different types of people, but the work ethic, adaptability, and commitment I see from veterans puts them in an entirely different class than most people. I’m also excited because of the positive impact that getting more vets into real estate will have on the industry as a whole.

As a veteran myself, I believe more of these kinds of initiatives will be the key to helping more veterans develop more successful careers when they return to civilian life, and I love that this concept is starting to gain momentum.

Scaling this to what is needed to truly support our nation’s veterans will require a robust and bilateral outreach program on behalf of the veteran community by our elected officials, DoD PAOs, non-profit orgs, entrepreneurs, and even our fellow veterans. We all need to come together, and pull more people into the mix, to create an environment that fosters ongoing collaboration and support.

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