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It’s graduation day for corporate fellows

Northwest Guardian

Published: 02:59PM October 13th, 2016
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“We all know that military people bring in a specific set of skills — ones that nearly align one-for-one with corporate values.”

Robin Baker

military recruiting program manager for Amazon Web Services

Above the Seattle skyline, in the Amazon Doppler Tower, the 33 cohorts of the Hiring our Heroes Corporate Fellowship cheered and laughed with each other while being celebrated at a graduation ceremony Oct. 6, after completing their successful management internships.

“It was enlightening,” said Sgt. 1st Class Fred Melvin with the 504th Military Police Battalion, 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command. “I was able to get hired with a company called Work of Honor. We were able to get out there and have an immersion experience into civilian culture.”

The 12-week program was focused on helping each of the fellows develop skills in upper management. Multiple premiere Washington companies, such as Amazon, Alaska Airlines, Comcast, Starbucks and UPS participated in the program because leadership knew they’d be getting high-quality candidates plugged into their organizations.

“We all know that military people bring in a specific set of skills — ones that nearly align one-for-one with corporate values,” said Robin Baker, military recruiting program manager for Amazon Web Services. “We know culturally that (service members) are a good fit culturally with all of corporate America. These companies want service members badly; the struggle is just finding the right training and access.”

The graduation ceremony featured a few guest speakers, including Ian Scofield, a former fellow who now works for Amazon Web Services. There was also a military challenge coin presentation to thank employers who helped arrange the internships. The ceremony concluded with the presentation of completion certificates from each employer to their respective interns.

While not every fellow has secured a job, officials are optimistic that each one soon will be employed in a job commensurate with their skills.

They expressed this confidence by participating in a fellowship intended to arm the service members with upper management training.

“We had a lot of career skills programs that focused on getting people hands-on experience for the trades,” Baker said. “But we didn’t have anything for upper management training, and we wanted to address that. We know that our service members are qualified; the only problem is getting them the right training.”

The fellowship program was created two years ago and has trained nearly 150 total cohorts. It’s currently celebrating its fifth group of fellows, according to Sean Murphy, the associate director of Camo2Commerce, another organization involved in the fellowship.

“It’s amazing to see where we’ve come from talking about making this program over coffee,” Murphy said. “We knew folks (who) were getting lost in the mix when applying for corporate jobs. So we wanted to make something to help great military officials (have) the chance to get hands-on experience and network. It’s great to see where we’ve come since then.”