In the next two blog posts I am going to cover some innovative ideas for connecting with military veterans on college campuses. This first blog addresses Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs; the next will address Student Veteran Groups.
College campuses are not only great places to find eager young men and women to fill your entry level positions and summer internships – they can be great resources for finding military veterans to fill entry- and experienced-level positions.
Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs produce commissioned officers for the military services.
Army ROTC has a total of 272 programs located at colleges and universities (http://www.goarmy.com/rotc/find_schools.jsp) throughout the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, with an enrollment of more than 20,000. It produces approximately 60 percent of the second lieutenants who join the active Army, the Army National Guard and the U.S. Army Reserve.
Air Force ROTC is offered at over 1000 institutions (http://www.afrotc.com/colleges/detLocator.php) throughout the continental United States, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Their graduates go directly into active service.
Navy ROTC is offered at over 160 colleges and universities (https://www.nrotc.navy.mil/colleges.cfm) and commissions officers for both the Navy and the Marine Corps. Their graduates also go directly into active service.
Why should you expend effort to recruit ROTC students? The benefit to the employer is that the students come with leadership skills, a degree, and a security clearance (critical for firms who need cleared resources). The benefit to the student is that they will gain employment with a company that understands the needs of the military veteran, demonstrates support for its veteran employees, and actively seeks to hire the military.
Army ROTC cadets find out in September whether they will be accessed onto active duty or into the Guard/Reserve, so October is a great time to reach out to those ROTC detachments and speak with the Professor of Military Science (PMS) to arrange for a visit.
While it may be tempting to request to limit your visit with only those senior-level cadets who are (1) graduating in May and (2) going into the Guard/Reserve, I encourage you to market your company to as many cadets as you can at every level and every status. You want them to form a good impression of your company so they will seek you out when they do complete their active duty tour or when they complete college in 2-3 years.
And, it may be tempting to limit yourself to Army ROTC units, since the Air Force and the Navy send their graduates directly in to active military service. For the same reasons above, I would still consider marketing your company to those cadets and midshipmen so you can begin to build brand awareness and an ongoing relationship that will lead them to seek you out when they do become available for civilian employment.
Posted by Lisa Rosser, Author of and Speaker/Workshop Leader on The Value Of a Veteran(TM): The Guide for Human Resource Professionals to Regarding, Recruiting, and Retaining Military Veterans