The Goodwin College of Professional Studies has created a program to help female veterans re-enter and succeed in the workforce after returning from military service. The program, which consists of a series of five free Saturday workshops from March 6 to May 4, emphasizes transferring military skills to civilian life and providing a safe haven for a growing group of underrepresented veterans.
Through the workshop, women will learn how to transfer skills learned in the military into everyday life and a potential job. They will also learn how to obtain this job through resume building with one-on-one career coaches and preparation for job interviews. This will include insight on how to answer frequently asked and unexpected questions and how to monitor body language and close an interview.
One focus will be on running a business and will feature visits from both potential employers and representatives from growing employment sectors. They will speak to the veterans about employment options, their respective industries and how veterans’ post-military skills can benefit these jobs.
“They tend to think about their militant skill sets as only for the military. They understand hierarchy and how to work within the rules but be creative, and these less obvious skills are very translatable to the world of work. These are things that veterans don’t think of as real skills, and we want to show them with these workshops that all of the things they learned to do in the military are useful,” Rosalie Guzofsky, director of Drexel’s adult education program, said. “It’s not just what they did in the military, such as being an auto-mechanic, though veterans often don’t realize that there is an equivalent to these jobs in the civilian world.”
These skills have the potential to make a veteran a “highly sought-after employee,” according to Guzofsky. However, veterans can also have a hard time translating these skills and their military experience into something they can write on a resume. Military jargon that makes sense to a fellow veteran is often lost on employers, which can cost them the job. The workshops hope to overcome these hardships and turn a veteran’s experience into something that can forward her career.
Guzofsky also hopes that the program will serve as a sort of safe haven for these women, who are largely outnumbered by their male counterparts. This causes problems when women try to talk about experiences they have had in the military, which often differ greatly from men’s.
“They don’t identify themselves necessarily as veterans, and they don’t particularly care to be involved in veteran events. Women veterans fear joining any sort of veteran group, so we tried to make it so specific that [this workshop] was just for women,” Guzofsky said. She also cited the prevalent issue of sexual abuse in the armed forces as a reason for women’s reluctance to take part in post-service events and organizations.
The only area where female veterans surpass male veterans in numbers is in their levels of unemployment. While male veterans have lower unemployment rates than non-veteran males, female veterans have higher rates of unemployment than both male and female non-veterans. These numbers are only increasing as more women return from the service.
Drexel, with its interest in and relationship with veterans, did not ignore this fact. Plans for the program began last fall.
“Drexel is very pro-veterans and educating veterans, so this really fits in with Drexel’s values and what Drexel stands for,” Guzofsky said.
Previously, through the Collegiate Consortium, a nonprofit organization that partners with Drexel, veterans who had served after 9/11 were eligible for a $3,000 scholarship. This was an award administered through Guzofsky’s office at Drexel, but after these grants came to an end, she used what was left of the funds to propose the program for female veterans. Many of the women who received this scholarship are now involved in Drexel’s upcoming workshops, creating a very friendly, informal atmosphere for those involved.
The program has partnered with the Veterans Multi Service Center of Philadelphia and other veteran groups to advertise and create these workshops. Many vendors appearing at the upcoming women’s workshop showed interest in the program after Drexel held a military career fair, an event largely dominated by male veterans.
Guzofsky hopes that female veterans will take advantage of this opportunity to push their careers forward and civilianize their military experience.
“If anybody needs to build confidence, it’s this group of women,” she said. The program has her looking forward to the possibility of teaming up with others on campus who work with veterans to brainstorm new ideas.
The workshops are open to women of all military branches who have been on active duty at least once.. Unlike many other veterans’ programs, women do not need to have served after 9/11 to participate. If interested in taking part in these free workshops, contact Adult Education Program Assistant Patricia Gremmel at 215-895-2154 or at [email protected]