The official blog of GuideOn, the Veteran Career Platform

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Veteran Transition Story

Hear from Cali Arboleda, a member of the GuideOn team, on how he was able to make a successful veteran transition from the military to the civilian workforce.

All my life, I had to fight for the things I wanted. I always had some interest in joining the military since I was a child. As I grew up, I decided to go to college. I joined ROTC while I was attending the University of South Carolina to pursue my bachelors in Criminal Justice. Some cadets found the ROTC course and training regimen pretty easy, but unfortunately I was not one of those people. I remember I failed the PT test the first time. So, I started exercising more and more. Then, I went to the Leaders Training Course in Fort Knox, KY, which was my first exposure to the US Army. It was like a watered down version of basic training. It was hard — I got yelled at, did a lot of push ups, stood in formations, exercised, marched, learned to shoot, and got lost during land navigation.  

Somehow, I managed to graduate the course. Then, I had a year to improve my warrior skills and tasks with ROTC. I worked hard — I developed and persevered and made it to my culminating exercise. During this, I choose to join the National Guard versus going to active duty. I went to the Armor Basic Officer Leaders Course in order to become qualified as Armor Officer. I went in 2011 and graduated in 2012. Shortly after, I returned to the South Carolina Army National Guard and went straight into a pre-mobilization for Kosovo.  I was deployed to Kosovo as 1LT where I started developing all sorts of skills that I thought would be applicable to any civilian career such as project management, working with teams, and strategic planning. In 2013, I came back to US from Kosovo and felt confident that I had a launching point for my career as young professional, but really I had no idea what I was getting into.

I decided to move to San Francisco, CA from my childhood home of Greenville, SC. My first job here was a security guard manager working graveyard shift from 12am to 8am making 18 dollars an hour. Initially, I was pretty excited to pursue this new job and start my new life in San Francisco. I started working and eventually began to realize how under utilized I would be as a security guard manager. Furthermore, I began to realize how much 18 dollars an hour really is worth in the SF bay area. I grew frustrated with the awkward hours and low pay that is typical to most private security jobs and eventually left the company.

I wanted to do more with my life but I realized I had no clue what to do. So I applied online, but had no success whatsoever with online applications. I went through many JMO-centric recruiters like Bradley Morris. Despite setting me up with interviews, they offered very little advice or career guidance and just seemed interested in meeting quotas. A thousand rejection emails later, I decided to go to graduate school. I started perusing my Masters in Advertising degree at Academy of Art University in San Francisco, but it wasn’t really my cup of Tea. The program was too expensive and too focused on art and creative components of advertising and less on the business side. So I stopped two semesters in transferred to the Hult International Business School to to complete my Masters in International Marketing. During this process, I met GuideOn CEO Anthony Garcia while I was studying, and I explained to him my dilemma. He introduced me to the concept of GuideOn, which sounded like the thing I was missing from the military.

The whole move from South Carolina to California was hard enough, considering the cost of living laws and weather, but adding on the military elements made it nearly impossible. There were many days I looked at meager earnings in my bank account and wondered how I was going to make it through the week. I spent a lot of time wondering how I could have avoided this predicament. Maybe if there were some resources that were more relevant to the things I needed, I could have avoided it. In spite of of all my trials and tribulations, I managed to succeessfully complete my masters and become a Marketing Analyst with GuideOn. I don’t consider myself the most military person, but the one thing I took from the army is that with the right amount of perseverance, you can overcome anything.

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