Through internships, Soldiers here can test out new career fields, gain resume fodder, and in many cases get mentored by fellow Veterans in how to succeed in the civilian workforce.
The person who gets it all started is Cherie Westphal, the transition coordinator for the Warrior Transition Battalion.
“I track and coordinate all milestones in Soldiers’ transitions to include placing them in MOS-aligned work plans, internships and education programs,” she said.
Soldiers can work one-on-one with Westphal to talk to her about options for internships and work plans, or memorandum of understandings; explore what their career intentions are; and align them with individualized plans.
Soldiers who are transitioning out of the Army can also take into consideration where they plan to live afterwards, and then seek to find work plans here that will relate to the career opportunities available at their post-Army location.
In addition, Soldiers can find out with Westphal’s help which federal civilian fields may align with the experience gained in work plans and internships to give Soldiers more experience directly related to federal jobs.
“I really try to find out what they’re really looking for and what their interests are,” said Westphal, who has a background in human resources. “It’s very specific to the Soldier.”
Soldiers do have to complete goal setting classes through the WTB’s occupational therapy clinic before seeking an MOU through the transition coordinator.
If Soldiers choose to seek an internship, they can either work with units on base or they can apply for an internship with other federal agencies through the Operation Warfighter Program.
Westphal encourages Soldiers to start planning for their transitions as soon as possible, especially if they are considering internships; she recommends Soldiers stay in internships for at least six months to gain a good amount of experience and networking ties.
Westphal, who describes her role as part coach and part motivator, urges Soldiers to push past trepidation about the unknown and what can be the uncertainty of the career futures to start planning for their transitions now.
“I try to tell them this is one of the best opportunities you’ll ever get in the Army,” she said.