Fort Bragg workshop helps soldiers fine-tune business ideas
By AMANDA DOLASINSKI | The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. | Published: August 23, 2014
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — When Sgt. 1st Class Christianah Adesida leaves the Army later this year, she envisions designing clothes.
She spent about 15 years in the Army, most recently as a human resources manager, but she said she is eager to learn entrepreneur skills to take her clothing line from an idea to reality.
Adesida and about 100 other soldiers who want to launch their own businesses attended the opening day for an entrepreneur seminar at Fort Bragg on Friday. The workshop, offered by American Dream U, continues today with discussions on writing resumes and practicing mock interviews.
Soldiers will be able to participate in a follow-up seminar in a few months to pitch their ideas and business plans based on what they learned.
"Coming here gave me a boost," Adesida said. "I'm excited."
She stumbled into the workshop after missing a spot in the Boots to Business event planned for September, but called the American Dream U workshop a "blessing." She learned ways to sharpen her idea and the logistics of starting her company, she said.
Aside from logistics and strategy, Adesida said she gained confidence.
"I learned never to let other people discourage you," she said. "You don't have to build a mountain in one day; take small steps."
American Dream U was founded by Phil Randazzo to help military personnel learn necessary skills for owning a business. The organization travels across the country to connect soldiers with experts and tools.
"We live in a country where we can do this, where the entrepreneurial dream is possible," Randazzo said. "I do feel obligated to help and to teach."
The organization has visited Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington and Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.
In three months, Randazzo said, it plans to return to Fort Bragg and host a "Shark Tank''-style seminar so soldiers can get practice pitching ideas to investors.
It's the second time this month that Fort Bragg has offered large workshops for soldiers preparing to leave the military and transition into civilian jobs.
At the Fort Bragg Veterans Job Summit, soldiers were connected to labor experts and employers. The summit was designed to help employers understand how veterans could fit into their companies while teaching soldiers how to market themselves.
Last year, about 8,500 soldiers at Fort Bragg transitioned into the civilian workforce.
"Our effort to assist soldiers comes on now, when they start active duty," said William McMillian, transition services manager for Soldier for Life: Transition Assistance Program.
"We want soldiers to realize it's not a short-time period," he said. "We're going to start working with them early. We're there to support them."
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