Business boot camp helps veterans translate skills to boardroom

WASHINGTON – The job market can be tough for veterans looking for work, but a unique partnership aims to help veterans catch a big break.

The Fullbridge Program and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America are partnering together to offer a 15-day boot camp for veterans to help them retool their skills to the business world.

“We think that these are our future CEOs,” says Paul Rieckhoff, founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

“It’s not just about getting 10 folks a job, it might be about finding our next Mark Zuckerberg.”

Rieckhoff says veterans have a lot to offer and need people to understand that their skills translate. That’s where The Fullbridge Program, a post-college graduation employment readiness school, comes in.

Founder Candice Olson calls it an “MBA boot camp.”

“They have a work ethic that is enviable,” says Olson.

“(We want to) help them translate that experience into the language of business so that employers can really see how much they know.”

The rigorous program is nine hours a day, but students learn from actual Harvard professors.

The program teaches skills, such as reading financial statements, financial analysis and how to make presentations.

So far, 10 veterans have gone through the program in Boston, but Olson hopes thousands will eventually attend.

Competition was stiff. Olson says the program received 30 applicants for every veteran they could take into the bootcamp.

They eventually chose five officers and five enlisted former service men and women. They ranged in age from their 20s to 30s, including one veteran from Alexandria, Va. He served in the U.S. Army and was deployed to Iraq. Even with a bachelor’s degree in economics he still struggled to find a job once he left the Army.

Rieckhoff says now that the veteran has gone through the bootcamp, “he is now well-positioned to get picked up by any major company.”

Rieckhoff says vets “aren’t a charity they are an investment,” and he urges other companies to stop and take notice.

Here is more information on the program and how to apply.

WTOP’s Darci Marchese contributed to this report. Follow @DMarcheseWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2013 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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