MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
For some, leaving the Marine Corps may be a difficult transition. Many Marines believe they have very limited job opportunities because their military occupational specialty does not transfer to the civilian job market well.
Fortunately, an organization exists to assist Marines during this difficult time.
The Marine Civilian Development Program has been helping transitioning Marines since 2006. The program started as an idea of retired Gen. Charles Krulak, 31st commandant of the Marine Corps, and Randy Lerner, owner of the Cleveland Browns.
“The fear of the unknown, navigating the hiring process, negotiating salary and understanding the experience you have gained through the military was really hard for me,” said Bryan Lane, a program participant and former sergeant with 2nd Radio Battalion. “Leading teams, working in a group environment and managing a budget are just a few of the job skills you don’t realize you have. The course allows you to consider jobs that might have been outside your reach.”
The MCDP is a nonprofit organization that works with Fortune 500 companies to hire quality Marines who are within six months of leaving the military.
MCDP is looking for Marines, officer and enlisted, with less than 10 years in the Marines with a solid record, said Kim Foss the eastern regional manager for the MCDP and a veteran Marine. Applicants must be recommended by their command. The Marines are not guaranteed a job and are encouraged to conduct their own search in parallel with MCDP, Foss added.
“The job matching service is provided at no cost,” Foss said. “We also provide accommodations, meals and program materials for the course. The program is funded 100 percent by private donations. There is absolutely no cost to the Marines.”
The first step in the program is a rigorous screening process.
“The screening process was very comprehensive,” Lane said. “I had to go through two interviews to get in the program. It is not something everyone can get into. They really single out exceptional and well qualified individuals who are leaving the Marine Corps.”
After an individual has been accepted, they attend a short course designed to assist the Marines in their job search.
“It is an intense course,” Foss said. “It is four and a half days for the Scarlet Course and five and a half for the Gold Course. The scarlet is open to high school graduates, and the Gold Course is designed for Marines with a bachelor’s degree. The course lasts from seven in the morning until well into the evening.”
The Marines learn about the civilian hiring process and more about what they have to offer the civilian job force.
“What we do is instill in the Marines confidence, tools and techniques, such as the importance of networking and good communication skills, to be successful in the private sector,” Foss said. “There is a whole turn around in the confidence level of Marines who have gone through the program.”
The best part about the program is the lasting bonds you make, Lane said.
“Once you’re done with the program, once you graduate, you still have access to the program,” Lane said. “I am in regular contact with the staff. I still get e-mails regularly about job positions months after the course. It is very comforting all the support you receive during the transition.”