APRIL 18, 2022 – Separating or retiring from the military is often a monumental transition for a person where they consider which career option is right for them; the SkillBridge program is a tool to help ease veterans into a new career.
The program provides an opportunity for service members to gain civilian work experience independent on their military occupational specialty through specific industry training, apprenticeships, or internships during the last 180 days of service, said Mandi Felmey, the garrison Career Skills Program installation administrator.
The program, designed to provide service members real-world job experience, is open to service members from all branches. Service members continue to receive their military pay and entitlements while participating in the program.
Felmey helps service members with the application process and works as a liaison between the service member, the command, and requested internship organizations. She encourages service members to apply for the program at least six to 12 months before their requested start date.
Starting early makes the process less stressful, Felmey said. It also provides service members time to complete all necessary paperwork and request command approval.
Service members can apply for specific industry training, apprenticeships, or internships within the local area or across the country. Any organization can sponsor a service member if they are registered with the Department of Labor and there is no conflict of interest with military or government standards.
“You can do an internship anywhere you want,” Felmey said. “The ultimate goal of the program is to gain employment with the company. So, a lot of people look for internships in the area they plan to relocate to. In addition, a lot of people use this as an opportunity to pursue a career change.”
Spc. Victoria Weir, B Co 741st Military Intelligence Battalion, 704th Military Intelligence Brigade signals intelligence analyst, is wrapping up her SkillBridge experience at Meade High School where she interned with the math department.
“I was coming up on the end of my contract and I realized I had no idea what my plan was,” she said. “I knew I didn’t want to stay in the career field that my military occupational specialty was in, but I didn’t have any experience in anything else. I had always thought teaching would be fun and I thought trying to find a teaching opportunity in the SkillBridge program would be a great way to see if it is something I would like to do long term.”
Her internship provided Weir with the information she needed to decide about her civilian career path.
“The program made me feel confident in my decision to pursue a teaching career,” Weir said. “How many people get to try out a career without having to get a degree in it first? Now I can pursue a degree in education with the full confidence that this is what I want to do with my life.”
Brittany Owens, Meade High School’s Math Department Chairperson, structured a position for Weir to work with the math teachers and their students. She gave Weir the official title of “military intern.”
“Tori has had a huge impact on Meade High School, the staff, and the students.” Owens said. “While she could only participate in a volunteer capacity, she did so with enthusiasm and zeal. Her excitement and spunk brought a young energy to the math department that has helped us deal with this challenging year.”
The Meade High School staff encourages other transitioning service members interested in pursuing a post military career in education to consider a SkillBridge internship with them.
“If there are any service members who are thinking of becoming a teacher, I would encourage them to participate in the SkillBridge program,” Owens said. “Skillbridge at Meade can help support you as you explore what being a teacher entails daily.”
For information about applying for the SkillBridge program or becoming a partner organization, email email@example.com, call 301-677-7670, or visit https://skillbridge.osd.mil.
By Tammie Moore
Fort George G. Meade Public Affairs Office