Careers program mentors veterans
Posted July 9, 2010 5:47 p.m. EDT
Updated July 9, 2010 7:32 p.m. EDT
Morrisville, N.C. — Ryan McCauley and Cedric Cook have a lot in common.
Both know computers, and both know what it's like to have served years in the military – and what it's like when they try to transition back into the civilian working world when their service is complete.
"It's no different than changing jobs, but certain aspects are different," McCauley, 23, said Friday.
The former U.S. Army specialist returned in April from an 11-month tour of duty in Iraq, where he worked in communications and information technology.
Having served in the military since high school, he is enrolling at Wake Technical Community College to pursue a career in computer science.
It's a situation similar to what Cook faced 12 years ago after finishing his nearly seven years of service with the U.S. Marine Corps.
"Coming from the military into the civilian world was a little bit of a shock for me," Cook said. "The military has some structure and rigidity to it in respect to how you interface with the upper echelon."
But he worked his way up the corporate ladder and is now a manager at IBM.
Now, he's helping McCauley get his start in the IT field.
"He's kind of given me tips and tricks and tools of the trade to go through and learn a little more about life as I'm getting out of the military," McCauley said.
IBM is a part of American Corporate Partners, a nonprofit group that's helping to mentor vets starting out in their civilian careers in industries such as technology, banking and food production.
Once a month, Cook meets in person with McCauley and gives him a behind-the-scenes look at IBM and guidance for his new career path.
"It gives you someone to connect with whose been in your situation before," McCauley said. "Getting out of the military is very difficult because that's all you know for a certain amount of time."
American Corporate Partners has a presence in 15 cities in the United States, as well as an e-mentoring program. It is not a jobs program, according to the group's website, but "a tool for networking and long-term career development."
Of the veteran applicants to the program, about a third have expressed interest in small-business development and entrepreneurship.
While Cook and McCauley share the bond of having served, mentors do not have to be veterans, just someone committed to helping veterans with their transition.
"I just want the best for Ryan and the best for our veterans," Cook said. "They have definitely served us unselfishly, and I think this program just is an excellent partnership."