Maclean Arthur is currently in the process of leaving the Army after a rewarding eight-year career which covered a myriad of duties, including an operational tour of Afghanistan, training programmes around the globe and an event management role at the Tower of London.
At a glance, my career as an infantry soldier with the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment seems a world away from my current communications internship role at Carillion. Like all service leavers who decide to take up new career paths radically different from their previous military roles, the journey starts long before the official transition process. A few years ago I started contemplating my post-Army career options. Unsure of what path to take or what opportunities existed outside the military, I gave up my Christmas leave to intern with a national newspaper and also volunteered my spare time to work for a leading military charity. Both experiences served as a test drive for a career in communications, and ensured that I went into the transition process with a more focused list of potential career paths.
This also meant I could take a more targeted approach with my networking efforts. I cannot overstate the importance of networking during the transition process. My internship role at Carillion is the result of a contact I gained at a military networking event.
Throughout this process, I have been pleasantly surprised by the willingness of people – with and without military backgrounds, to offer advice and guidance. I found the VETS programme (a platform run by Carillion, Barclays, and other corporate partners to provide mentoring and advice service to veterans) particularly useful in finding mentors and expanding my network. Hence, I was immensely excited when I was offered the opportunity, during my first week at Carillion, to be part of an ongoing project to recruit 30 Carillion employees to provide mentoring to veterans under the VETS programmes.
I have also benefited from the insight and guidance of Carillion’s active network of ex-military personnel and Reserves. During my first week at Carillion, I interacted with a number of veterans and volunteer Reservists within the company, who shared their experiences. Conversations often drifted around the topic of transferable skills, as I had doubts about how military skills transferred into the corporate environment.
Like most service leavers going through the final stages of the transition process, I have spent hours translating my military experience and skillset into language that will make sense to civilian employers. While going through this never-ending drill of CV polishing, I have often wondered how these skills, honed over several years within a military setting, can readily transfer into the civilian workplace.
Fast forward three weeks into my internship, and all the lingering concerns have been dismissed. Three weeks is a short period of time, however, I have found enough to conclude that, in terms of transferrable skills, the similarities between the military and the corporate world are far greater than I had previously imagined. My new role at Carillion, has offered me rare opportunities to work on a number of high profile projects which have all served as confirmatory tests of how my skills readily transfer into the corporate environment. Whether developing communications strategy or creating content for publication, skills such as attention to detail as well as organisational and management skills, which have been developed through the course of my Army career, have become some of my most valuable assets. There have been times during these three weeks when I was required to quickly learn new terminologies, and take on vast information about the integrated support services industry. To me, these occasions are not dissimilar to situations I had previously faced in the Army, when I had to learn to operate a new weapon system while under time and environmental pressures.
Transitioning soldiers often find it hard to believe that their skills can readily transfer into the corporate environment – I have been down that road. All the ‘doubting squaddies’ can however find proof in the growing wave of internship programmes specifically designed to attract ex-military personnel into the corporate world. As someone recently remarked: ‘employers do not create internships just to be nice to soldiers.’