A Program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

Name: Jacob Ostrowidzki
Branch: Sergeant, U.S. Army
Military Occupational Specialty:
11B Infantryman
Current Company of Employment & Job Title:
Buyer at CarMax – El Paso, Texas

When did you choose to begin applying for jobs in the civilian workplace?

I served in the Army, assigned to the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, from 2012 to 2016. In May of 2016, after a handful of surgeries resulting from an injury I sustained earlier in my career, I decided to separate and pursue a job in the civilian sector.

Briefly describe your post-military job-seeking experience.

Admittedly, taking the first steps toward civilian job-seeking was daunting. After being in the Army for four years, I really didn’t know where to start: from resume writing and benefits packages to, oftentimes, moving your family to a new city – the process can be overwhelming.

Despite having started researching potential opportunities a few months ahead of time, I still felt the pressure of a timeline. Luckily, I was fortunate to have access to a transition assistance program to provide support along the way.

With the help of the program, I learned how to translate my military skills into civilian life. It became easier to understand how to build off what I learned in the Army and understand what jobs best matched my strengths. I practiced resume writing and delivering my elevator speech, two exercises that set me up for success when speaking to potential employers.

What support did your civilian employer provide during the transition process?

After researching a wide range of companies and organizations, I concluded that CarMax was the best fit for me. The company was opening a location in El Paso, my soon-to-be new home, so I submitted my application and was contacted for an interview shortly thereafter.

From the beginning, I had the comfort of knowing that CarMax’s values aligned seamlessly with my own. The company is built on a foundation of integrity, teamwork, respect, pride and commitment to care for people above all else – these are pillars that I too believe in. CarMax’s unwavering commitment to providing community support and career opportunities to military service members and veterans like myself, along with their partnerships with organizations like Hiring Our Heroes, were stand-out factors as I made my decision.

As I approached my first day at CarMax, I was a bit apprehensive. While the differences between a first day of Basic Training and first day of a civilian job are apparent, I was almost expecting it to be similar when it came to intensity. Luckily, I discovered that I received an overwhelming amount of support within every department of CarMax – and I didn’t have to do any pushups!

One of the experiences that has stood out to me when it comes to my experience at CarMax thus far occurred during my first few months on the job. My team and I were tasked with planning the grand opening of our El Paso location and, about a month beforehand, managers and mentors from all over the country flew in to assist. From the moment they arrived, the entire group exuded nothing but positive energy and a “can do” attitude. I was able to forge new relationships and gain invaluable knowledge from associates across the country. It was at that point that I knew I was part of a very special team and work family.

How have the skills you learned in the military helped you to succeed in your current role?

In both instances, effective communication and attention to detail is key. In the Army, communication and detail orientation is vital to the success of the mission – at CarMax, both are important when it comes to creating clear objectives and achieving business goals.

My role at CarMax is a buyer in the purchasing department where I am responsible for appraising vehicles, attending off-site auctions and determining what vehicles CarMax should obtain as inventory to sell at our El Paso store location. Overall, I work to deliver our customers a seamless, transparent and unapparelled experience. The level of excellence I strive to provide my customers is the same as what I worked to achieve in the Army.

Why is it important to have companies that invest in assisting with military-to-civilian transitions?

Organizations such as Hiring Our Heroes and companies like CarMax that are truly dedicated to helping our veterans are vital to the transition process. Having a mentor to proactively acknowledge that your skills and experience is valued is important. For veterans to truly envision their civilian successes, we need the support of company who already believes in us. There’s a wide range of growth opportunities at CarMax and I’m excited to continue to explore all that this journey has to offer.

Interested in career opportunities at CarMax? Visit CarMax’s Military Commitment page to learn more about the company, apply for open positions and see a list of upcoming military hiring events.