• 2nd cohort finishes corporate fellowship

  • The second cohort of the Hiring our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program graduates.

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  • Christopher Burnett | Staff Writer
    The second cohort of the Hiring our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program graduated in a ceremony July 27 in Marshall Lecture Hall at the Lewis and Clark Center.
    In his opening remarks, Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Fuller said the Corporate Fellowship Program affords opportunities to service members who are within 180 days of separation or retirement to link with corporations looking to hire middle- and senior-level employees. He said the process included screening applicants for admission into the 12-week program and features assisting with resumé preparation, interviewing skills and networking with the corporate community.
    “This is the second cohort that we’ve graduated. At the completion of our first cohort, there was (a job) offer rate of 87 percent to participating fellows, which set the bar high for the program — not only at Fort Leavenworth but across the program as a whole,” Fuller said. “We started the current cohort with 10 fellows. Three of those were hired directly by their host companies, so they are not here today. Six of the seven graduating today have received offers, and the remaining one is awaiting attending a scheduled interview — if you do the math, that’s a firm 90 percent and a potential 100 percent (job) offer rate.”
    Fuller introduced Combined Arms Center Chief of Staff Col. Edward Bohnemann, who graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1989, and said he had served in every leadership position from rifle platoon leader to brigade commander.
    “The Corporate Fellowship Program started as a pilot program in 2015 and has spread throughout the Army the last two years,” Bohnemann said. “These companies and others in the program are all industry leaders looking to hire the best and the brightest people who bring unique qualities to their businesses. These seven graduates do exactly that.”
    Commencement Speaker Lt. Col. Edward Foulks, Mission Command Training Program, interned with Hallmark.
    “For the fellows of cohort two and their families, today marks a major milestone in what Army parlance is termed as a significant emotional event — that significant emotional event being transition,” Foulks said. “For some of us, that transition comes in the form of retirement after more than 20 years of service and for others that transition comes a little sooner so we can pursue other life goals and interests.”
    Foulks said the commonality for all is a discovery that each fellow faced the same challenges throughout the transition process, regardless of rank or time served in the Army. He said transitions can be difficult and demanding at times, especially for their families.
    “Reflecting on our training, Army doctrine teaches us that when planning and conducting operations to always be on the lookout for transitions,” Foulks said, “but the Army also teaches that during transitions, if one looks closely, an opportunity will often present itself.”
    Page 2 of 3 - Foulks said transitioning from being experts in a chosen profession to experts in virtually nothing, members of the cohort sought ways to translate their years of military service and training. He said a primary goal ultimately aimed to apply the soft military skills of leadership, planning and critical thinking while slowly acquiring new skills that resulted in a positive effect on their respective host companies.
    “As time progressed, processes began to look more and more familiar, stand-up meetings didn’t look so foreign,” Foulks said. “We soon found ourselves right there alongside our new teammates successfully contributing to the effort. And all we did is what we’ve always done throughout our careers in the Army.”
    Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program Manager Ursla McCarthy introduced the seven graduates and companies they worked with during the program. Foulks and Lt. Col. Dana VanNess, MCTP, and Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bevington and Capt. Andre Williams, CAC, interned with Hallmark. Sgt. First Class Robert Dalby, CAC, interned with Cerner and Spc. Denis Evtodienco, 15th Military Police Brigade, interned with True North. Lt. Col. Charles St.Clair, MCTP, worked at Amazon.
    McCarthy said the program had changed some since the first cohort. It still includes screening and not everyone who applies gets in. She said the companies are also now doing preliminary interviews.
    “I think that’s helped this program be very successful because the company has a little taste of what they are getting before the fellowship starts,” McCarthy said. “And once these guys get in the door, they usually blow them away.”
    McCarthy said a continuing challenge is informing corporations of the level of expertise possessed by the veterans and what each inherently brings to the table. She said most companies always need people with developed leadership abilities.
    “Telling them that and showing them that are two completely different things,” McCarthy said. “Veterans have been developed as leaders from the moment they come into the military. Most companies can’t afford to send employees away for such training.”
    McCarthy said the feedback from corporations has been overwhelmingly positive.
    “I’m excited about the potential of the program,” McCarthy said. “The more opportunities we have to get out and communicate with the corporations about our veterans, the better.”
    Bevington worked in a position with the Hallmark plant in Lawrence, Kan., which manufactures greeting cards. He said each of the fellows experienced that the learning process went both ways between corporations and transitioning veterans.
    “During my initial interview, I was asked to explain further what some of the items in my resumé meant in their terms,” Bevington said. “However, it is the actual job performance that translates best, and most of the corporations expressed being very impressed with the high-level of quality work veterans do as a matter of course. We are ambassadors for the Army to these companies.”
    Page 3 of 3 - St.Clair worked in the fellowship with Amazon at its MKC4 Fulfillment Center facility in Gardner, Kan., as an area manager. He said he was the fellow still waiting for a formal offer of employment.
    “Amazon is among the top employers in the Kansas City metro area, and we are still looking for people,” St.Clair said. “It is a competitive job market here, and Amazon is struggling to fill positions.”
    Transition Services Manager Brett Rosene said Hiring Our Heroes is a program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation that launched in March 2011 as a nationwide initiative to help veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses find meaningful employment opportunities. He said the Corporate Fellowship Program is part of that effort.
    Rosene said the high placement rate of fellows is because high quality soldiers enter the program.
    “They understand it is going to be a lot of work transitioning from the military to the corporate world, and they are willing to tackle that in a short period,” Rosene said.
    Rosene said the next cohort is expected to be a relatively large group. The number of participating companies determines how many internships are available.
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