Veterans and Career Transition during the COVID Crisis and Beyond

When the global pandemic hit, Northrop Grumman pressed on with necessary hiring, including the recruitment of transitioning service members through its Military Internship Program. To do so, the company maximized the potential of the Department of Defense’s SkillBridge program, a joint-service initiative that allows service members to participate in job training, including apprenticeships and internships, beginning up to six months before their military service obligation is complete.

For Rob, one of nearly 27 service members who joined the company as an intern in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, the internship has supported his adjustment to civilian life. Rob enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2000 as a Private First Class and achieved the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 2. He began his internship with Northrop Grumman in May 2020 and recently retired from the Marines in August 2020.

“This definitely made for a smooth transition for my family,” said Rob. “So many Northrop Grumman employees were willing to mentor and educate me.”

white man sitting at desk
Rob started his Northrop Grumman internship working in Human Resources supporting veteran initiatives. For the remainder of his internship, he will work with the company's Global Hawk team as a project manager.

Many of the skills service members learn in the military are transferable to civilian roles, from leadership and interpersonal communication to team building. “I can bring these critical skills and my life experiences to the Northrop Grumman team,” Rob said. “I will close this chapter of my military career, serving my country honorably and faithfully for the past 20 years, and open a new chapter by transitioning to a great company. As an intern, I now know that all Northrop Grumman employees are truly passionate in what they do every day. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.”

Transition can be challenging for anyone, but for military members embarking on their next chapter in life, it can be even more daunting. Approximately 200,000 service members exit the military each year; about 70% stem from overseas locations, according to the Department of Labor and Office of the Secretary of Defense.

“During the coronavirus pandemic, when companies were making staggering layoffs, Northrop Grumman continued to grow its Military Internship Program,” said head of Veteran Initiatives, Military Programs, Carl , a U.S. Navy and Coast Guard veteran and active Reservist. “With over 400 candidates and a 100% hiring conversion rate for interns, the program has taken on a new level of professionalism and commitment.”

Northrop Grumman’s SkillBridge program was included in the Secretary of Defense’s staff notes of companies able to make a difference with veteran hiring during the crisis. That was no small feat, explained Liz, head of Military Affairs, Military Programs, and U.S. Air Force veteran. “We committed to hiring 1,900 service members in Palmdale, CA alone, which set us on a trajectory of success,” she said.

For service members, having a mission and a purpose to dive into post transition is typically fundamental to success. “While not everyone can work in a hospital helping to save lives, people can still be empowered to make a difference,” said Liz. “The SkillBridge program has provided momentum to a new dynamic of agile hiring practices. Its success is rooted in the pride we have in our sector and in Northrop Grumman as a whole.”

Northrop Grumman offers resources dedicated to military transition, job search and resume tips specifically designed for veterans transitioning into civilian careers. For additional information on the DoD SkillBridge program, please visit the DoD SkillBridge landing page.