By Spc. Scyrrus Corregidor | 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Active-duty service members, veterans, Families and civilians had the opportunity to listen to professional development training during the morning of Sept. 16, 2021, at McMahon Auditorium. Later that day, attendees were able to meet with hiring managers at the Hiring Our Heroes Career Summit hosted by Fort Carson and the U.S. National Chamber of Commerce Foundation at the Elkhorn Conference Center.
About 90 employers from across the nation and more than 250 job seekers attended the event.
“Fort Carson was very happy to be the first installation, in over a year, to host the Hiring Our Heroes Career Summit in-person,” said Sherry Jenkins, transition services manager, Fort Carson Army Transition Assistance Program. “This event connects the military community with local, national and remote businesses and training opportunities, and is designed to create economic opportunity and a strong and diversified workforce. Participants had the opportunity to attend informative and interactive events and facilitated discussions focused on improving their competitiveness for employment. The event culminated in a hiring event with over 90 nationwide employers, transition resources and Career Skills Program partners in attendance. Based on feedback from job seekers and employers alike, this was a very successful event. We are looking forward to hosting the … (event) again in September 2022.”
The Hiring Our Heroes program has been around since March 2011. Marnie Holder, director of events at Hiring Our Heroes, said it started as a national-level program to bring together employers who are committed to hiring veterans, service members and spouses.
“What we’ve done since then … is give access to those employers that are looking for talents that meet their needs,” Holder said. “We have seen an increase in the number of the companies and employers who are tapping into the military and military spouse talent more so than we ever have.”
Employers are looking for skilled and talented people to work, including service members who are preparing to transition and veterans who have been trained with a variety of skills.
“We have more (employers who) are just clamoring to come to upcoming events because they know this is the talent they want, need and desire,” Holder said.
Service members and veterans know how to make decisions and operate in a team environment, which is what most employers and companies are looking for, Holder said.
The event encourages attendees to find their path and passion based on their interests.
“There is a wealth of resources, programs and services here, and designed for (service members and veterans) — many free of charge — or opportunities they can do to upscale, rescale or be a part of skill-bridge programs that segue into meaningful employment,” Holder said.
Many service members are not aware of the benefits, resources and services the military offers.
Staff. Sgt. Steven Gottshall, cavalry scout, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Div., has served in the military for nearly 10 years, and while this is his first job fair, he expressed the importance of meeting new people.
“Having the opportunity to attend a job fair and speak with employers’ (can guide) job seekers to their next (desired) career,” Gottshall said. “They will also have the foundation of networking with employers and companies.”
Holder said giving service members and veterans the foundation of a network of employers is going to help position them toward their next career.
Holder said her goal is to “educate, inform, inspire and connect” job seekers, and consulting with employers and companies at the career fair helps guide participants to a successful path.
Gottshall echoed the same information and appreciated the opportunity to speak with hiring managers one-on-one. Speaking directly to employers gives job seekers a higher chance of being hired rather than applying online, where recruiters can compare resumes.
“Later when (employers) see my name on a piece of paper, they’re going to be able to match my face to it versus just (seeing my name on) a computer screen,” Gottshall said. “You (have a) higher chance, because you’ve actually met your employer — the person that is going to hire you.”
Gottshall was nervous about his upcoming transition, but the job fair provided him with a plan and helped him narrow in on job prospects.
“My advice to other Soldiers is to get on top of this stuff now instead of waiting until the last minute,” Gottshall said. “I would say 15-18 months (in advance to) figure out what you want to do before you get out.”