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Senior Site Industrial Safety Advisor
U.S. Army - Tracked Vehicle Mechanic and Recovery Specialist

As a Senior Training Instructor and Supervisor Training Coordinator at Exelon's Braidwood Nuclear Generating station, my day-to-day duties range from delivering classroom training for supervisors to hands-on lab training for electricians. I am responsible for not only developing the training materials to provide state-of-the-art training to nuclear professionals who are responsible for working on some of the most critical pieces of equipment in our facility, but I also have to monitor each individual's performance in the plant to help determine their needs and gauge the effectiveness of the training we provide. These duties vary significantly -- from being a supervisor in the field during our refueling outages, to providing mentorship to new supervisors, and even benchmarking other companies and industries to find ways to improve our own processes and systems at Exelon. Continuously evaluating our programs for areas to improve is the best part of my job with Exelon. In the nuclear community, we are always striving for excellence and this aspect is extremely fulfilling as we are always developing better ways to do things.


There are three pieces of advice that I provide everyone I speak with regarding military transition. First is to never be afraid to take a step down in order to take a leap forward. Someone once told me near my transition into the civilian sector that the Army wouldn't enlist a CEO into the ranks of a General simply because of his/her past accomplishments, and the saying is true regarding a General into the role of a CEO. We must be honest with ourselves when planning our career transition. Many times veterans shut doors of opportunity because it isn't the exact job or level they were looking for.

Second, you are never too old or too busy to use your education benefits. Use everything you can while you are in and prior to exiting the military, as this will make it easier to continue your education when you transition out. If you don't set it as a priority now it will be even more difficult years down the road.

And lastly, the power of networking cannot be overlooked. The civilian job market is not as defined as the chain of command in the military. Developing a strong personal and professional network will pay dividends in not only your career search, but also your career path once you land that perfect job. Get out there and make a strong network!


School was not a priority for me while I was on Active Duty or for the first few years after transitioning into my civilian career. Looking back, I lost tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of education benefits while I was in, and then struggled to enroll and stay enrolled once I neared the end of my benefits period. Had I used my education benefits to the fullest while on active duty, I would have had only a few courses left after my transition and would have saved a lot of money. Because of my procrastination, it took me nearly six years to finish my undergrad and I almost lost my benefits (there is an expiration date).

I have since graduated with my undergrad from Benedictine and will be attending the University of Illinois at Champaign for my graduate degree. Changing my priorities to focus more on school has helped propel me in my professional life and has allowed me to be more of a leader in my community.

The best takeaway I have regarding career life in the civilian market is just how valuable taking stretch assignments are and being that volunteer in your department or company. Leaders look for those people who are willing to challenge themselves and put themselves out there for the team. If you are completely comfortable in your current role, then you probably aren't challenging yourself. Enlisting a "civilian" battle-buddy that you can bounce ideas off of and who will critique your professional abilities helps maintain that stretch in your career.

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