By Arnie Lucas
After more than 30 years in the military, I was preparing for my next chapter, and I knew I had to build my experience. I began reaching out to peers on LinkedIn and that’s when I connected with Donnie, a talent acquisition lead with Northrop Grumman. Come to find out, he is a veteran too — and we hit it off immediately.
Just a few months later, I was thrilled to be joining Northrop Grumman through the Skillbridge internship program. This program offers the opportunity for military personnel to take up to 180 days to work for a company where they can learn career skills, polish their technical skills and assimilate back into civilian life. The military is all I know, but Skillbridge gave me the day-to-day immersion my civilian colleagues experience every day.
I accepted a Skillbridge internship with a Process Engineering team in Roy, Utah, as a planner and, once I accepted, it was full speed ahead. My family and I loved Utah and we were excited about relocating there for my new job. We put down a deposit on an apartment and contracted with a realtor to help us find a home. However, the day before we were scheduled to leave for Utah, I received a call from the local police in Washington State: they had found my mother, who has early dementia, walking down a street, lost and confused.
Her dementia had worsened and it required me to stay in Washington for the foreseeable future. I contacted Donnie — who immediately answered — and he was more concerned about me and my family than what this meant for the internship, which immediately put me at ease.
I asked humbly for anything at all that was remote so I could continue my internship and take care of my mom all at the same time.
“You don’t know unless you ask”— that’s what Donnie told me.
Ask? I grew up in the military, where you don’t ask for favors.
Turns out, that’s not the Northrop Grumman way.
Before I knew it, a remote Skillbridge opportunity opened up and two weeks later I had a laptop and badge sent to me. Amazing!
Donnie and the entire engineering team took my hiring experience to the next level and made it possible for me to complete my Skillbridge internship. Today, I’m a full-time Northrop Grumman employee working as a process engineer.
I still can’t believe Northrop Grumman took a chance on an old Army soldier and proved anything is possible. Once my mom is in a safe place, we will make the move to Utah to join the team — I can’t wait to contribute in-person when the time is right.
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