Volunteer Spotlight: Tim
For Hire Heroes USA volunteer Tim Bridges, every conversation with a service member, veteran or military spouse is an opportunity for an authentic and meaningful connection. Since starting as a volunteer more than four years ago, Tim has devoted 128 hours to Hire Heroes USA and worked with clients at every phase of their career journey. Read on to learn more about his commitment to serving the military community and empowering them to secure the career of their dreams.
How did you learn about Hire Heroes USA and what made you want to volunteer?
“I was speaking to a group in 2017 as I was close to retiring and mentioned my desire to volunteer. A former F-18 pilot who worked at Boeing commercial airplane services was in the audience, had utilized HHUSA himself and suggested I consider it. I’ve always admired those who serve this country’s military.”
What has been the most rewarding part of being a volunteer with Hire Heroes USA? What keeps you involved with our organization?
“The most rewarding part of volunteering is when a client tells me they’ve gained an insight or perspective they had not considered, and it has eased their mind or helped them pursue a career. What keeps me involved is the amazing and interesting work I learn veterans do for the US. [I’m] able to speak with such disciplined, motivated and varied individuals such as a nuclear power plant technician who supported the US efforts to help Japan’s Fukushima incident, a 1-star Brigadier General, a Coast Guard communications person, and a non-US individual who helped the US overseas and joined the military and became a US citizen.”
How do you apply your own professional experience to your interactions with clients?
“In the case of clients seeking employment, I use my experience on interview panels, as a manager, and as an individual contributor serving (successfully and unsuccessfully) senior managers, to shape the best of what a veteran has to offer into what might resonate with decision-makers for the job the veteran is seeking. Perhaps more importantly, I try to add an honest and forthright perspective on their personal situation as it relates to transitioning from a structured life in the military to a less structured life in private industry. The goal is to help a client accept and deal with potential differences in job expectations.”
If you had to pick just one piece of advice, what’s the most important thing you share with the clients you work with?
“I very much tailor advice to the client’s situation, desires, and personality traits, so each engagement is very different. But a core tenet to all engagements is to be true to yourself in order to find the right fit for a career. Also, focus on transitioning to civilian employment first, even an imperfect job [can be] a step to finding the “perfect” job.”
Is there one particular client interaction that sticks with you?
“There was a client in the San Diego area who had a bit too much enthusiasm, confidence and directness, and was not getting follow-on interviews, despite clear knowledge of the subject matter. I really resonated with the client’s style, but I observed that some interviewers may perceive the energy in unintended ways when comparing to other candidates. I suggested dialing it back a bit and letting the interview panel lead the dialog a bit more. Just soften the edges, but keep the enthusiasm, confidence, and direct answers, and let the interviewer draw it out of you a bit more, rather show it all at once. The very next job interview, [the client] landed the job and phoned me to say my suggestion was the reason. I’ll always remember this interaction.”
How would you encourage others to support veterans and military spouses in finding professional success?
“I would suggest seeking to understand that veterans chose a different path than others and often do so early in life. That path is quite structured, perhaps lower in monetary compensation and one of great service and sacrifice for our country. Transitioning from that path to an unstructured civilian profession with unfamiliar expectations can be a challenge, especially when doing so at an age that may be older than others entering a profession. So, I think it’s worthwhile for those of us who started building a civilian career earlier, in a free country, to help veterans succeed similarly. If we do this well, others considering a military service path will see it and be more likely to serve in this necessary capacity for our country, keeping us strong.”
What else would you like to share about your volunteer experience with Hire Heroes USA?
“I like Hire Heroes USA’s focus on the veterans, personal engagement in the process and trust in the volunteer / client one-on-one connections. Hire Heroes allows the interactions to be real, organic and meaningful so lasting benefits arise from the interaction. There is very little bureaucracy!”
If you would like to make a difference in the lives of veterans and military spouses, please click here to learn more about volunteering with Hire Heroes USA.