Continue your service in a rewarding environment.
Project Manager ISales, Support & Project Management
Natalie’s last military role in 2003 was an Operations Supervisor for an 850 personnel multi-service Infantry Brigade, where she managed a team of 34 and was responsible for the review and execution of daily operational instructions. Natalie has master’s degrees in Transportation and Logistics from the American Military University and in Organizational Leadership from Argosy University. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate degree in International Business from Walden University.
It’s challenging for anyone to summarize their career story into a stunning two-minute pitch. Natalie found it overwhelming to encompass seventeen years of military skills and duties into a brief career defining summary.
As Veterans transition from the military or apply for a new civilian role; it’s beneficial to focus on how their specific skills align for the job you want rather than crunching their military history into a quick sound bite.
“If you’re interested in a Project Management role, focus on your strategic experience and skills. Concentrate on what the job needs and translate how your experience fits.”
Military life is very focused on communication style.
Veterans frequently need to connect with people to help them use less acronyms and military jargon. “It’s important for Veterans to realize that all industries have their own language made of shorthand, slang and acronyms and it takes time to translate. Always be aware of how you translate your skills and experience, so an employer relates your experience to their opportunity. Take the time to elaborate and don’t assume people understand your experience without more explanation.”
There’s a military decision process that helps you identify risk at an early stage which is useful to develop a plan without skipping an important phase. “Military training helps you identify everything upfront, dive in sooner rather than later and save time on the back end and know your limitations and assumptions. I frequently use these military learned skills on the job at TD Bank.”
When interviewing, ensure you understand civilian titles. “Veterans shouldn’t only consider entry level opportunities. Ask questions about job descriptions, titles and grade levels which can be confusing when you’re entering a new industry.”
Preparing to find a new role following her military career, Natalie found networking was important. “You have to make the effort; it’s who you know to get to where you want to be”. Noticing Veterans were under represented on diversity pillars, Natalie connected with other Veterans throughout the organization and got involved with meetings. Natalie became a representative for TD Bank for Vets of Wall Street and is a founding member of a Veterans chapter in Charlotte, SC. Networking and forming strong connections have exposed Natalie to an array of new opportunities.
For Veterans worried about how corporate workers view the military, remember that “education diffuses myths; understand the skills vets have and take your time defining your experience and how it relates to the role you want. Get to know recruiters and help them understand the nuances of a Veterans resume. Educate hiring managers on how your professional experience will benefit their team.” Demonstrate the value you’ll bring to a team with lots of relevant examples of your work. “As Veterans show you before they tell you, remember to translate how your skills are transferable and the qualities and skills that go into a military title. Ask about resources that organizations provide Veterans and how they promote mental health initiatives.”
AML Compliance ManagerMt Laurel, NJ
Felicia relished five diverse, high profile opportunities throughout her eight years in the Airforce. From learning Computer Networking, Cryptography and Switching Systems she moved to Quality Assurance, Training and Mission Planning roles. A magnet for stressful work, Felicia spent time in supporting Special Operations teams throughout Southeast Asia. Felicia’s supervisors understood her potential and offered her opportunities usually given to more seasoned team members. Upon leaving the Air Force, Felicia was confident she’d quickly secure a prominent technology role with a dynamic organization.
The reality of her job search didn’t live up to her expectations. The mother of four and military spouse (Felicia’s husband is Master Sergeant, Cory Fulton) was used to a fast-paced life where you set goals to make things happen.
Felicia sent over a hundred resumes the first two months into her job search and heard nothing. Not understanding why the recruiters weren’t calling, Felicia decided to enroll in college and continued to apply for technology jobs assuming that was her ticket to civilian employment. While pursuing her bachelor’s degree through the GI Bill, Felicia’s professors questioned why she was pursuing a technology career as they saw she had multiple strengths/skills and competencies in project management. “Listening to their advice, I realized my technical experience didn’t translate to civilian employers, I did not have the degrees and civilian certifications they were looking for. What I did have was a diverse background with a lot of management experience.
Revising her resume to highlight project management experience helped Felicia get attention from several organization. While interviewing with TD Bank, Felicia reminded herself to relax and consider the interview a conversation. This approach helped her calmly explain her experience, answer questions and make positive connections with the interviewers. Looking back on her interview, Felicia remembers laughing a lot and enjoying the discussions. “Throughout my interviews, I shared clear details of my Air Force experience along with relatable examples of how I can go into an unknown situation and quickly learn how to get things done.” Felicia joined TD Bank as a Project Specialist in 2012. Three years later she moved to a Business Analyst role, and later got promoted to a Fraud Insight Manager role before receiving another promotion to an AML Compliance Manager role. While it took two years to successfully transition to a civilian career, Felicia appreciates the same diversity and challenge in her work as she experienced in the military.
As she transitioned to civilian employment, Felicia relied on her military network for practical guidance until her own instincts kicked in. Unsure of how a Project Specialist dressed for work, Felicia called a former colleague, (from the dressing room) and was advised to ask the salesperson for help and buy a week’s worth of clothes until you get a better sense of what’s appropriate. “Everyone feels unsure as they start a new venture; don’t be afraid to reach out to military friends who have transitioned to civilian work before you; they’ll be happy to help!”
As you look for new opportunities, learn to get comfortable meeting new people. “I’m not a natural networker so when I first attended Recruit Military job fairs to help recruit Veterans into TD I partnered with an outgoing colleague and observed how they worked the room. I pushed myself to meet all types of people and the more people I met the easier it got to engage.” One memorable connection involved introducing herself to a recruiter at a job fair where she learned about a week-long technology training that was free to all Veterans. A simple, “hello” and asking a few questions earned Felicia a week of valuable training that would never have happened if she didn’t make the first move.
When preparing your resume, don’t be shy about asking for advice. “Don’t rely solely on the Military Transition Assistance to create your resume. Seek out and listen to non-military friends to guide you on creating a resume that will resonate with employers. There are many free resume services available to help veterans, these non-profits are a step in the right direction to help you develop a great resume. If you’re not sure where to start, ask former military colleagues who are now working in civilian jobs for feedback; they’ve been in your shoes and can provide valuable insights.”
As Veterans go through the interview process, they should access organizational culture and values, so it aligns with the familiar and valued military principles. “TD Bank is a natural fit for Veterans because you’ll be working with a diverse group of people who value excellence and team work. TD Bank’s commitment to community service mirrors the military’s service-before-self mantra.”
Rufus Byrd is no stranger to serving his country. He had 15 years of progressive Marines experience before starting a successful career in banking and getting a BS in Chemistry from Howard University. Rufus’ son, Ryan Steven Melo-Byrd (pictured) is now a Sergeant.
The Palm Beach, Florida, Relationship Manager, transitioned to a career in financial services after a successful one in the Marines. An optimistic attitude and an eye out for fellow Veterans served Rufus well. When a new employer was acquired five days after he joined, he soon realized the CEO of his new employer was a fellow Marine. “Vet’s trust and understand each other, we recognize a shared lingo and DNA; we are motivated, dedicated, and understand, failure’s not an option and we want to help each other.” Veterans who’ve successfully transitioned to non-military careers are great mentors and advisors. “Veteran mentors saw motivation and dedication in me and understood as a Veteran, I wanted a career not a job. Savvy mentors also helped me navigate unfamiliar territory in the corporate world and advised against not leading as a dictator, embrace your organizations culture and keep your principles.”
Rufus consistently relies on his military training at work especially during the COVID-19 crisis. Working daily from 6:00 am until late into the evening to underwrite much needed loans, Rufus understood people were relying on him and so he turned the marine switch on to bring structure, discipline and motivation to his mission specific goals.
Having former colleagues who now work at TD Bank, Rufus was able to network and learn about new opportunities. Rufus got his job with TD Bank when his prior employer was acquired, and he needed to find a new opportunity. Networking has always been beneficial to Rufus in building strong connections; he first met his now manager when they were both on the board of Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Staying in touch and connected to a variety of people benefits your post military job search.
Volunteering is a great way to connect and strengthen relationships while doing good in the community. Talking to young people and focusing on mental health issues effecting Veterans is important to Rufus. Being available to talk and connect and show hope through the VA is meaningful as is engaging with faith-based organizations. Rufus enjoyed his work as a motivational speaker to suspended students to redirect their behavior and offer hope. “I always look for areas to open a dialogue and build comradery.”
As you prepare to interview for non-military work, Rufus recommends assuming a positive mindset. “First, you should feel welcome in civilian work, assume you belong and will be a great contributor. Keep your bearings, stay positive, demonstrate you’re a team player and can meet mission specific goals and you’ll become welcome into a new environment. In the Marines, everyone is green, no matter their background. Veterans can form unity and team work and build and motivate teams. While civilian work may be new to you, building a cohesive team or project quickly is natural, so help future employers understand how you were successful and how those skills will transfer.”
Rufus advises Veterans consider organizations that honor the multitude of strengths and skills of hiring Veterans. “Organizations that set clear expectations and offer ongoing training and mentorship care about your development. I’m not wearing a military uniform anymore, I’m wearing a TD uniform and it’s also a great uniform.”
When redefining your career from the military, observe organizational culture, look for an environment where people feel comfortable asking questions, seeking out information and being themselves. Like everyone, Veterans need to feel safe, ask questions and not fear hurting credibility by seeking information. Look for strong, proactive leaders who have an open-door policy. “Veterans should feel at ease bringing their whole self to work, discussing their military career and sharing insight into their life.”
Organizational values show Veterans how commitments are honored, and colleagues and customers are treated. “Values are important and everyone needs to know that a company will take its principles seriously.”
Community Development Manager
Rob spent eight years of progressive experience in the Marines. His most recent role in the Marines was a Staff Sergeant Recruiter. Rob has a BS in Education from Liberty University and a MS in Education with the University of Virginia. He is certified in HR Management and Project Management and is pursuing a doctorate degree in Organizational Leadership from Northcentral University.
When pursuing civilian work, Rob feels networking and volunteering are great methods to connect and learn about new opportunities.
Rob’s story starts with his father, a 20-year Marine veteran who served two tours in Vietnam in 1965 and 1968. As a military brat, Rob moved every three years and lived in California, Texas, and North Carolina. While a freshman in college, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and served as a combat engineer and after five years was a platoon sergeant in charge of 37 men. In 1991, his unit was activated to support Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. After college, Rob went into active duty for two years in the Marine Corps and was assigned to recruiting duty and was promoted to Staff Sergeant and separated in 1995.
The jobs of a combat engineer are to support infantry forces by removing obstacles using explosives for the demolition of structures, and to clear and other engineering roles – sometimes under enemy fire. “The skills I learned involved precise calculations to properly use explosives, but also, I learned a lot about improvisation and adaptability. Leadership is a learned skill, as I oversaw the welfare of men from diverse backgrounds and I was responsible for millions of dollars of weapons and equipment.” Other skills that easily transfer from the military to civilian work include communication, flexibility, teamwork, integrity, planning, and problem solving.
To stand out to a civilian employer, Rob suggests Veterans discuss their ability to adjust at a moment’s notice in high-pressure situations and share examples of how the military taught you to be proactive. “Veterans receive leadership training and know when to take and when to give orders and collaborate. Veterans are highly skilled and technically trained and receive continuous education and training to keep up with proficiency… we are great learners.”
After leaving the Marines, Rob worked in retail management and then pursued opportunities in banking. He applied directly for a role at jobs.td.com and was hired in 2014 as a Store Manager and was promoted four years later to his current role as a Community Development Manager of Central and Northern Florida. Always seeking viable new opportunities, Rob is open to pursuing Community Development and Diversity & Inclusion roles in the future.
When pursuing civilian work, Rob feels networking and volunteering are great methods to connect and learn about new opportunities.
“When looking for civilian employment, check out your local Chambers of Commerce, small business development centers and colleges/universities which have a veteran department and host networking events.” Strengthen your connections through veteran online nonprofit organizations and connect with them on LinkedIn.
Veterans are a tight group, but also a modest, quiet group. “The military trains men and women to work as a team and individualism is downplayed. Many Vets believe it is their duty to serve and that it’s not a big deal. Vets are very proud of their service, but they do not boast about their service. In the workplace, we will work hard and keep our head down. TD Bank’s culture of inclusivity can amplify the skills of a Veteran and advocate the Veteran’s performance.”
Regional Workforce ManagerRetail Workforce Management
Melissa Lugo is known for thriving in a fast paced environment, exceeding goals and always able to get things done. With a BS in Economics/Finance from Lander University and an MBA from Webster University, Melissa is a certified Six Sigma Black Belt. Outside of TD Bank, Melissa’s an Army spouse and energetic military family volunteer while supporting her husband, Staff Sergeant Jaime Lugo, during his 20 years of active duty.
As Jaime joined the Florida Army National Guard, Melissa feels a strong connection to Reservists. Like all aspects of military life, organization and communication are key to successfully navigating this lifestyle. “While many deployed and reserve families should have the support of the military, employees should also let their manager know if they are facing challenges.”
Transitioning to a new career outside of the military is challenging. With so much unknown during this time, it’s important to find a mentor or friend who can encourage and guide you. Veterans find themselves relearning things most of us take for granted like interacting with their family and questioning what the future holds for their career.
A natural way to network is through military volunteer events. Melissa enjoys participating in TD Bank sponsored Memorial Day activities that lay wreathes on military graves. Community sponsored events are a win-win offering opportunities to connect with a variety of people while doing beneficial work to support the military.
“As Veterans consider their post military career, look for organizations with substantiated values and prioritization of teamwork. Throughout the TD Bank organization, we can share examples of our values in action and how we support our people. Always ask a potential employer about values and teamwork and pay attention to their response.”