From College to Career: Top 10 Tips for Student Veterans

by Jennifer Renee Pluta

Congratulations, you are now in college! Now what?

Throughout your military career, you have always known what steps you needed to take to get promoted to the next rank Now that you are in college, the steps to take you from college to career may not be as clear as they were in the military.

Good news! There are clear steps you can take to get you from college to career. By following these Top 10 Tips for Student Veterans, you can successfully land your dream career after college:


It is never too early for you to go to your school’s career center. They want to engage with you early and often and you do not have to be career-ready to take advantage of their services, for example:

  • Career fairs, workshops, and career events
  • Job and internship searches
  • Social media strategies
  • Resumes and cover letter how to and reviews
  • Job posting/career portal
  • Interview prep


  • Always be on the lookout for flyers, emails, and social media posts from career services about upcoming workshops, events from career services, and fairs; attend the sessions that interest you.

You do not have to be on the market for a job or internship to attend a career fair. Attending a career fair can benefit you in other ways, for example:

  • Identify your school’s employer partners
  • Ascertain companies are hiring for your major/skillset
  • Becoming familiar with employers that are in your chosen field/industry
  • Network with recruiters so they can get to know you beyond your resume
  • Learn more about a company face-to-face
  • Chance to practice interviewing through employer Q&A
  • Ask employers what skills and experience they look for in a potential hire
  • Practice your elevator pitch
  • Observe how career fairs work via student/employer interactions

Go beyond Facebook, Instagram, and Snap Chat by using social media such as LinkedIn to build your online brand or to explore positions, fields, and industries. Did you know that LinkedIn offers veterans a 1-year free Premium Career subscription as well as online resources to help you get the most out of LinkedIn?


Arm yourself with as much information as you can on the fields, industries, and companies that interest you by seeking out and connecting with role models, mentors, recruiters, professors, staff, family, friends, alumni, etc.  You can do this through the art of networking, which is another name for information gathering or small talk. Start by attending networking events and career fairs, and using social media such as LinkedIn or RallyPoint. Career/industry-related questions that you can ask, to include:

  • How did you get into this field?
  • What skills are necessary to succeed in this job?
  • What classes do you recommend that will help me prepare for this role?
  • How would you describe your company’s work culture?
  • What advancement opportunities does your company offer?

No resume or cover letter, no problem. Your school’s career services can assist you, whether you are starting from scratch or need a final review. There are also online tools you can use to create a resume. For example, Hire Heroes USA can create your resume for free.


  • You can have more than one resume depending on the types of positions that you are applying to. For example, have one resume focused on your budget/finance experience, another resume with your project management experience.
  • Your cover letter should be unique to the position reflecting specific experiences you have and how it relates to the position.

Utilize a military skills translator to connect your military experience directly to civilian jobs and to identify your transferable skills. Understanding how your military experience translates to your job or career path will help you when writing your resume/cover letter and networking with employers. Military translators include:

  • O-Net: Identifies civilian jobs that correspond to various military roles as well as occupational outlook, necessary education, licensures, credentials, and salary information.
  • My Next Move for Veterans: Evaluates and uses your military experience to explore civilian careers and trainings as well as provide information on writing resumes that highlight relevant skills.
  • com Military Skills Translator: Matches military experiences to civilian jobs

Build your resume and skill set by taking on a new experience, such as:

  • Joining a club or organization related to your academics or hobbies
  • Volunteering on campus or in the community
  • Taking on a part-time job
  • Doing an internship

Not only will you enjoy taking on a new experience, but you will also build skills along the way and meet new people.


Regardless of your military rank or level of expertise, you must prepare and practice for an interview; your veteran status alone is not enough to get you hired! It is never too early to get started on developing your interview skills, start by:

  • Visiting career services to explore resources and meet with a specialist
  • Learn how to properly answer interview questions
  • Explore the diverse types of interviews
  • Study common interview questions
  • Conduct a practice interview
  • Record yourself answer questions and evaluate your response

Did you know there are career-related resources just for veterans? Utilizing these resources gives you a competitive edge, for example:

  • The Veteran Jobs Mission (100,000 Jobs Mission) Search for a job from top employers who are committed to hiring veterans
  • GI JobsOffers articles, tips, and online tools to help veterans explore different career and post-secondary education options
  • Feds Hire Vets Provides resources and information that can assist Veterans, transitioning service members, and their families in finding a Federal career
  • Com Explore jobs offered by world-class companies in the USA and abroad
  • Com Veteran Jobs Features companies offering the information needed to make important decisions around your civilian job search
  • Vet Jobs Find a wealth of information and resources to aid in the re-direction of the veteran’s career path following military duty with jobs postings and articles to facilitate the transition from military service to the civilian workforce
  • Military Hire Has jobs for veterans across the U.S. and around the world
  • Hire Purpose Applications are directed to the hiring manager
  • Helmets to Hardhats This program connects veterans to careers in construction and building
  • American Corporate Partners (ACP) A one-on-one year-long mentorship with a corporate professional in a career field of your interest. Mentors come from one of 60+ companies like 21st Century Fox, Deloitte, GE, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Lockheed Martin, and USAA

Seek out employers who have a veteran-focused recruiting strategy. These employers are committed to hiring veterans and understand the value veterans bring to their organization. Identify companies from the links in the Resources section above, or google “list companies that hire veterans”.