LeaderQuest is committed to helping veterans transition into the civilian workforce. We’re very proud of the work of our Community Engagement Manager, Aaron Kiewicz. In Colorado Springs, Aaron serves the veteran population as an aide and a confidant on behalf of LeaderQuest. His mission is to create effective bonds with veterans and support them as they shift from working in the military to a civilian profession. He spends his days assisting veterans with practical skills like how to create a resume, how to find jobs for veterans, how to create a LinkedIn account, and how to leverage networking effectively. It may seem daunting to look for jobs after military retirement, which is why it’s important to find organizations that want to help.
Aaron Kiewicz retired from the Air Force in 2014 after working as a jet engine mechanic, a maintenance instructor, and a military trainer. He gave a lifetime of service to the armed forces and wanted to remain in a service role as he shifted to civilian life. Kiewicz’s first position was at a non-profit where he assisted active duty service members with their transition. That’s when he realized his next mission in life. Aaron saw the trials that arise with a transition and wished to encourage others to succeed as he did.
“It is like teaching them how to fish but not fishing for them. We want to teach them how to interview. We want to teach them how to write a resume. We want to teach them how to cater their resume to find the career they are seeking. We want to teach them how to put all the correct words in LinkedIn so recruiters notice them. We want to teach them how to network the proper way and how to stop using military jargon that confuses a civilian employer.”
Aaron has knowledge as civilian and a soldier which helps him bridge the gap between both environments.
Jobs for Veterans – Partner Organizations
As they transition, soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines are trying to create a completely new identity. In any given month, 400-700 people leave the military in Colorado Springs. When making a new life there is so much to consider. LeaderQuest is actively working in the city with other organizations to make this transition a smooth one. We work with four partners in Colorado Springs:
- The Mt. Carmel Center of Excellence is a nonprofit that concentrates on wellness programs for veterans and serves as a “services hub” to help veterans find everything they need in one place.
- The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program, a Department of Defense effort, helps National Guard and Reserve service members and their families connect with local resources before, during, and after deployments.
- The Wounded Warrior Project seeks to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history by providing unique programs and services to meet the needs of injured service members.
- The Employer Services of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) works to encourage employment of Guardsmen and Reservists who bring integrity, global perspective and proven leadership to the civilian workforce.
These organizations all speak the same language when it comes to helping veterans make the transition. They share the same objective, which is just to be a guide in this crucial period. LeaderQuest and these partner organizations love to help out by advising on career strategy and giving veterans an opportunity to get in front of experts that can advise on valuable life skills that ultimately lead to fulfilling career options.
All of the veteran support organizations have a very holistic approach. They are in it for the success of the veterans and work together as a unit to make that happen. Each organization is equipped with knowledge of the opportunities available, even if it is outside of their focus area. They provide the resources and it’s up to the veteran to make the decision if it’s right or not.
Veteran outreach happens primarily through events and introductions. The most common outreach event is Q&A sessions with 20 employers. These are casual events with open invitations to veterans to come and ask questions followed by a breakout session. The breakout is an opportunity to for veterans have a one on one exploratory conversation with an employer or program that seems interesting to them. This is simply information gathering for veterans to learn more about what’s out there. The most important outcome is to provide resources and be of value to someone seeking a career for the next phase of their life.
Aaron says it’s about finding a good fit for the veteran. “I want to give them the skills to make that career change as seamlessly as possible. I do this by matching up the skills they have from the military and the skills they need to change careers and show them how they line up. It’s really seeking out if they want a career change or if they want to improve upon the skills they already have. I can also determine if they have a different skillset that can be used in other industries and guide them to that organization.”
Cross referral is Aaron’s other outreach technique. If Aaron is working with someone who has a deep-rooted interest in a different career path and he can make an introduction for the veteran, he does. He’s well connected in the community, and he knows many people offering jobs for vets.
Aaron is an expert when it comes to guiding transitioning vets to the IT certifications that will get them where they really want to go. He takes pride in connecting people in the community with cyber-security, product, and project management courses that can help them get the civilian career they’re looking for. He knows not everyone is suited for a career in IT but those that are can really add value to their lives with the training.
“It’s my nature to help. That’s what LeaderQuest is about. We are a company that’s here to help. Ultimately, our goal is to help you in the three areas we specialize in. Lending a hand is sometimes all someone needs. Even if they may not ever touch a computer in their life. It all leads to a positive outcome. It is a selfless type of job because deep down it’s all about helping.”
If you’re a veteran seeking additional information, please reach out to us. You may want to get started with one of our events, which are always free and open to the public, or you can learn more on our website about how you can transition into a lucrative career in IT. The skills you have been nurturing in the military can easily be applied to a program in IT, and the VA benefits you earned while serving in the armed forces may help to pay for it. We realize that transitions can be difficult, which is why we have people like Aaron to guide you along the way. If you have any questions or just want to chat with someone who has been where you are standing now, LeaderQuest has the staff to assist you. We want to help you achieve success, and we love finding jobs for veterans! The first step is sometimes the most difficult one, but we are here to help.