Very recently, I made the always-bragged-about but ever-scary leap from the comfortable confines of the military, over the cliff of retirement, and into the pool of civilian life. I enjoyed 29 years of a steady income, steady and free medical insurance, extremely low cost life insurance, and a structured work environment (outside of the occasional chaos of combat). All that, and the predictable command and controlled hierarchy, along with a comradery felt by no other organization in the world, taught me some important lessons.

There are five fundamental areas I call the REINS of successful transition from military to civilian life:

  1. Resume
  2. Education
  3. Interview
  4. Networking
  5. Serving

The process for successful transition should begin almost immediately upon a new assignment or job/career. That's right, every time we start a new position, we should always be preparing for when it will come to an end. This isn't a green light to not give 100% to your current role; it just means you should always expect change will come. That change could come at any time, from shortly after it begins, to two or three years down the road, all the way up to 20 or 30 years or more. It doesn't matter how long it lasts, a good exit strategy will always put you in a better position to make the transition as smooth and beneficial as possible for all involved.

Over the next several weeks, we will take the deep dive into each of the 5 REINS, and I will share my experience and training. If implemented, this information will put you way ahead of your peers and much better prepare you for your next transition, whatever that may be. Stay tuned!

This is the first of a six blogs designed to help students and alumni with their military to civilian transition.

Mark A. Weedon is Trident's National Director of Strategic Alliances and a 29-year veteran of the U.S. Army. An avid learner, Mark holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and is currently working on a Master of Science in Human Relations.