Looking Forward to Life After the Military

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Last fall, Sarah Kenny was trying to figure out the next chapter of her life.

As a Captain in the U.S. Army and stationed in Fort Leonardwood, Mo., she had a fulfilling career, traveling to Afghanistan and other bases around the country to protect us.

Kenny2She served as an active duty Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense Officer for six years.

She was jumping out of helicopters, doing weapons training and bonding with her fellow soldiers. Now she’s looking forward to life as a civilian but wondering, what was next?

 Next Chapter

Enter the Department of Defense (DOD) SkillBridge program, created to connect service members to career job training opportunities. Learn more at https://dodskillbridge.usalearning.gov/

After getting permission from her Army superiors to join the program, Kenny was looking to find the perfect company to put her skills to use. She is a certified hazardous materials technician and radiological services technician.

“I wanted to see what was out there for me,” said Kenny. “I told myself my minimum expectation was re-learning how to interact like a normal human being. The military places immense stress on rank and structure, but I wanted to walk into a civilian company and see how it works. I wanted to build my resume and land a letter of recommendation.”

Kenny posted on her LinkedIn profile that she was available to work as part of her transition from the military. She caught the eye of Amber Fogarty, Energy Talent Pipeline Specialist at Consumers Energy and fellow Army veteran.

“When I saw Sarah’s request pop up on my LinkedIn page, I knew if we didn’t scoop her up quickly, we’d miss out on a great opportunity,” Fogarty said. “We have been exploring ways to utilize the SkillBridge program within the company, so this was a perfect way to pilot it. We are thrilled to have Sarah on board.”

The interest was mutual.

“I had 3,000 views and 300 comments but I was definitely interested in a career at Consumers Energy,” Kenny said.

“Plus my husband, myself and my 3-year old son, Joey, got to come back home to Michigan.”

First SkillBridge Internimage

Kenny started her first day at Consumers Energy on Jan. 21, and she became the company’s first DOD SkillBridge intern.

Kenny has hit the ground running within the Health, Safety, and Environmental division of Learning and Development. She has taught classes on First Aid and radiation safety and has enrolled herself in classes so she can gain instructor accreditation in other areas.

“This is a really busy time of year for our department, so I want to help take the load off them,” she said. “I have a new appreciation of energy providers. I never really thought about all the work it takes so we can turn our lights or the stove on. It’s cool to see how it all works and how seriously this company takes safety.”

Kenny will work as an intern for 90 days, and she hopes it will launch her next career path.

“We are so thankful to have companies willing to do this for military veterans,” said Kenny who recently interacted with middle and high school students at the company’s Robotics and STEM expo in February.

“Ten years ago, programs like this didn’t exist. I think the SkillBridge program is the most beneficial of the transition programs because you get real world experience. I look forward to working and learning as much as I can about Consumers Energy and the people who work here. The people are so friendly and willing to help me out and teach what they know. I am excited to be back in Michigan, working for Consumers Energy and I can’t wait to see what happens next.”

Consumers Energy has a long tradition of hiring and promoting veterans. The company has received recognition from Military Times and the Michigan Veteran Affairs Agency and also features an active Employee Resource Group called the Veteran’s Advisory Panel, which supports veterans and their families in the company. Watch the video.

 

 

 

 

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