Aaron Bowman’s plan for navigating the rocky waters of military retirement started with his Corporate Fellowship Program application.
“I didn’t want to wait very long to start working and I was hoping to have no gap between employment and retirement,” Bowman said. “Because of the Corporate Fellowship Program, I didn’t have that gap.”
The Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program (CFP) is a 12-week innovative program that provides transitioning service members with professional training and hands-on experience in the civilian workforce.
A Look Behind the Curtain
Fellowship candidates are carefully matched with participating companies based on the specific skills of the candidate and the preferences of both parties. Candidates then undergo exclusive on-the-job training at their host company, gaining firsthand experience in the private sector.
“It’s a 12-week working interview. It’s really a big look behind the curtain at their company,” Bowman said.
Anne Larson spent the last year developing “the very best experience” for Wells Fargo’s incoming fellows.
Wells Fargo fellows will be placed on one of two learning tracks: a client exposure track or a support track. Within each track, transitioning service members will learn about multiple departments, participate in professional development seminars, and be assigned a mentor, who is also a military veteran.
“This is someone that they can talk to, someone who understands,” Larson said.
Related: Wells Fargo Expands Corporate Outreach to address Veteran and Military Spouse Unemployment and Underemployment
At CarMax, fellows meet with company executives, including the CEO. They also learn about how the company operates at the corporate headquarters in Richmond, Virginia, and visit stores to learn about all aspects of CarMax operations and the automotive retail industry, explained Jack McCarthy, Military Recruiting at CarMax.
“This experience is invaluable to transitioning service members to help them make more informed decisions about their next career steps,” McCarthy said.
Fellowship Within the Fellowship
Along with the corporate experiences, CFP participants also attend weekly educational sessions with their cohort members. These events, called Corporate Huddle Days, gives fellows the opportunity to share their experiences and build their networks.
While each program does its Corporate Huddle Day a little differently, everyone huddles on Fridays. The program managers provide corporate training, “lunch and learns,” corporate tours and an opportunity to talk about the challenges of transitioning out of the military.
CFP program managers call it “the fellowship within the fellowship.”
“Going through this time alone can be stressful, but going through it as a group makes the transition easier,” said Melinda Gomez, CFP Program Manager at Camp Pendleton.
Military Installations Going Above and Beyond to Accommodate Fellows
With a median monthly rent of $4,500, San Francisco have been pricing transitioning service members out of a CFP experience — until now.
The Parks Reserve Forces Training Area, commonly known as Camp Parks, is providing free housing to CFP participants. Garrison Commander Jennifer Nolan said the military installation is happy to assist transitioning service members of all ranks and branches. Four fellows are currently living at Camp Parks.
“This partnership allows service members the opportunity to participate in a fellowship that would otherwise be cost prohibitive,” said Lindsay Teplesky, Deputy Director of the Corporate Fellowship Program.
“It’s also just smart use of rooms that would otherwise be empty,” she added.
The Corporate Fellowship Program is offered to military spouses and veterans in select locations. Fellows are not restricted to those locations or their host military installations. In some cases, permissive TDY can be utilized to participate in the CFP. In those situations, the service member is responsible for the PTDY costs.
With a 92% placement rate, this opportunity is a terrific experience for both fellows and participating corporations.