JACKSONVILLE – As Salute to Service week came to a close, the Jacksonville Jaguars teamed up with Microsoft and local veteran organizations to give back to former service members trying to enter the workforce.
On Friday at EverBank Field, veterans from Wounded Warrior Project and K9's for Warriors attended a class for maximizing LinkedIn, taught by representatives from Microsoft.
Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny and Jaguars strength and conditioning intern Sean Karpf, a Purple Heart recipient, visited with veterans at the end of the program.
"There are a lot of unknowns that come with transitioning (to civilian life)," Mike Eyl, program manager for Microsoft Software and Systems Academy said. "Things like, 'How am I going to fit in as I transition?' or 'What's the civilian life going to be like?' or 'How do I translate some of those skills that I've acquired in the military and come into the civilian sector and apply those skills in there?'"
Eyl served in the United States Army's 82nd Airborne Division, and understands the challenges newly discharged veterans can experience.
His presentation explained the use of the social networking website LinkedIn and how veterans can use the site to network and present the skills acquired in the military to those hiring in the civilian sector. Veterans in attendance could create their own LinkedIn page if needed, and Jaguars photographer Rick Wilson provided professional headshots free of charge to those in attendance, for use on their profile or for any need in the future.
Members of the Wounded Warrior Project's "Warriors to Work" program attended the event, continuing their efforts to provide career guidance and more.
"A lot of these guys have never had to interview for a job, never had a resume – it's a brave new world that they're entering now," Kevin Rasch, Warriors to Work manager for Wounded Warrior Project, said.
"It's an opportunity to get them out in the community, get them engaged. What we're trying to do is transition them into employment, find them networking opportunities, career coaching. We help them with resume review or interview prep. This is right in line with everything we preach."
After spending the early adult years in the service, establishing or finding business contacts is one of the most difficult parts of transitioning to civilian life.
"LinkedIn kind of affords me that further network around the country with other veterans, whether it's mentorship or simple interaction on a day-to-day basis," Eyl said. "Now that we're in the civilian sector, it has made my transition a lot more successful and a little easier to manage."
Skills acquired while serving our country can translate into civilian terms, but learning how to translate it for a resume or LinkedIn profile can be an initial challenge.
"We're veteran by title, but we're not just a veteran; we have so much more to achieve in the civilian sector," Eyl said. "(We have) our past and all the accomplishments there, but we have so much more to offer in the civilian sector and for different organizations or just personally in our own endeavors and what we're going after."
The session was part of a series of events leading up to Sunday's Salute to Service game, when Jaguars players, coaches, cheerleaders and staff participated in military-focused initiatives throughout the community.
For more information on the Microsoft Software and Systems Academy, visit https://military.microsoft.com.
For more information on the Wounded Warrior Program's Warriors to Work program, visit https://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/programs/warriors-to-work.
For more information on K9s for Warriors, visit https://www.k9sforwarriors.org.