JACKSONVILLE, N.C. — With resumes in hand, more than 1,000 job seekers attended the Camp Lejeune employment and education fair on Wednesday.
With dozens of booths dedicated to education and more than 50 belonging to organizations offering careers ranging from law enforcement to truck driving, Marines, sailors and their families attended the semi-annual fair aimed at easing the transition from active duty to civilian life.
Marine Sgt. Jessica Goforth, 29, of Jacksonville, said this isn’t her first time transitioning from the military, and it never gets easier.
“I came to the job fair looking for an opportunity to advance myself,” said Goforth, who left the Corps after her first enlistment to attend college but later re-enlisted into the Marine Reserves. “It’s so hard to just find a job looking online, and there is no person-to-person connection. It’s hard to sell yourself online so I figured I would meet some employers, make some connections and put a face to my resume.”
Now leaving the Marine Corps for the second time, she said she realizes in full exactly what the Marine Corps has given her and the benefit those skills like initiative and leadership can offer to employers.
With a dream of eventually working for the FBI in either their missing persons, missing children or human trafficking division, Goforth said that she is just hoping to make good connections at job fairs so her second transition isn’t as scary as her first. For service members who haven’t transitioned, Goforth said that they need to get as much guidance as early as possible before they step outside the gate.
“I think veterans have a lot to offer,” she said. “They have already moved out of their comfort zone and have done what millions of other people didn’t do, and that value may be overlooked. For wounded veterans especially, if they are qualified, they should be given a chance. It’s the least we could do.”
Marine 1st Sgt. Brian Akers, 39, said preparing for transitioning has been much easier than he thought it would be mainly because he had recently accepted a position with a transport company that he learned about at the base’s job fair last August. That move has “reduced the stress level” and allowed him to focus on making sure everything is in line for his family.
Although he has his next move lined up, Akers said he attended this week’s job fair to network, which can lead to job opportunities in the future.
“We as veterans bring discipline and leadership, which are probably our biggest assets,” Akers said. “How you carry yourself and being courteous go a long way. The way people perceive you also goes a long way. It’s all about marketing your personal brand.”
At one of the job fair booths, Kelley Tyson, a financial adviser for Edward Jones of Jacksonville entertained questions and accepted resumes from many service members and family members. Under their Forces Program, transitioning service members can receive training to become financial advisers and work in a destination of choice, which for many service members is near their home town, she said.
“We’re looking for veterans because we know they have a really hard work ethic and that matches with our philosophy,” Tyson said. “In this business you really have to work hard and be an independent thinker. For the most part, veterans are good with people and not afraid to talk to someone, which is exactly what we are looking for.”
Many people think to be a financial adviser that you need to possess a master’s degree in business management, but according to Tyson, it is not a requirement. Edward Jones, she said, is willing to train veterans.
“We recruit from all different backgrounds and all branches,” she said. “Camp Lejeune has many service members that are from all across the country and that gives us a great pool of candidates who may want to go back to their home town. ...We just don’t want to see someone who simply wants a job for a year or so. We are really looking for someone who wants a career, as are many companies.”