If you go
What: Operation: GoodJobs’ Free Veterans Networking Event
When: Wednesday from 11 a.m.
to 2 p.m.
Where: American Lake Conference Center, 8085 NCO Beach Road, Lewis North
Goodwill of the Olympics and Rainier Region’s Operation: GoodJobs will host a free veterans’ networking event Wednesday at the American Lake Conference Center on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Between 50 and 70 employers from different fields will be inside the Lewis North conference center from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. — including big-name companies like Boeing, Wells Fargo and Walmart. There will also be veteran service and training organizations present.
“(Job seekers are) not just going through the process of putting their resume in a database and hoping with their fingers crossed that something is going to pop up,” said Terrance Hodge, the Military and Veteran Services Program manager the local Goodwill region.
Hodge said the event is a chance for transitioning service members to learn about career opportunities in the Pacific Northwest. and a chance for the employers to get in front of folks to talk more about those opportunities.
“It’s a lot easier to have a conversation in that environment than in an interview,” Hodge said.
The event, as well as Operation: GoodJobs’ additional services, is for transitioning service members, veterans, spouses and working-age family members, Hodge said.
The big-name companies and organizations can seem attractive to the people who have attended Operation: GoodJobs’ quarterly events, but Hodge said smaller organizations also have good opportunities with a decent salary and a better work-life balance.
Most employers have jobs based in Washington state and the Pacific Northwest. Some are offering roles in other parts of the country, which can be intriguing to a service member wanting to return closer to home after their service.
“Many of these organizations have facilities and partners outside of this immediate area, so having that first-level conversation helps us get (job seekers) to be aware of that — especially if they may look at potentially leaving in a few years, whether it’s family-related or something else,” Hodge said.
Sometimes, a job seeker might not find what they are interested in. Hodge said organizations always have ties to other companies.
He recalled an example of one transitioning service member who wanted to be a coroner but ultimately found a job working for a state agency.
That agency had connections to line that service member up with an internship and education path with a local coroner’s office.
“It just so happens to be (the) right time, right place to step into this opportunity,” Hodge said.
The event is free, in an effort to make the networking opportunities accessible to a larger group. Hodge said there are several hiring fairs and similar networking events that charge admission.
Hodge said Operation: GoodJobs receives grants to help JBLM’s military community members in the program buy professional clothes, tools required for certain jobs and even car tires so they can get to the interviews.
“In this program, we’re thoughtfully looking at removing barriers for job seekers and companies looking for this kind of talent,” Hodge said.
For more information or to register for the networking event, visit goodwillwa.org/training/veteran.