The best way to hire veterans may be through a SkillBridge internship. It certainly proved to be a win for Bradley-Morris, Inc. The nation’s largest military-to-civilian recruiting firm onboarded Tyler Bloecher through Skillbridge and hired him for good a few months later. The Navy veteran enlisted at age 18. He later earned an officer commission and a bachelor’s degree from San Diego State. As a surface warfare officer, Bloecher worked on both coasts and served as a company officer at the United States Naval Academy. After 14 years in the officer ranks and seven years enlisted, Bloecher decided it was time to retire.
A fortuitous meeting with Tim Best, CEO of Bradley-Morris, through a church youth group, put an unexpected plan into motion. “I told Tim I’d heard of Bradley-Morris and that I’d be transitioning and retiring soon. Maybe down the line we could connect, and Bradley-Morris could help me.” The two met to discuss Bloecher’s goals and plans, post-Navy. Best introduced Bloecher to the Department of Defense’s SkillBridge internship program.
SkillBridge gives service members civilian work experience through industry training, apprenticeships, or internships during the last 180 days of military service. Whether officer or enlisted, the opportunity is open to all ranks of military personnel and military spouses, and Guard and Reserve members. The program delivers real-world job experiences to facilitate transition to a civilian career. Industry partners provide opportunities in fields including energy, information technology, manufacturing, retail, transportation, and civil service. Training programs offer a high probability of post-service employment, but a job is not guaranteed. Service members receive military compensation and military benefits during their participation.
Making It Official
A letter and memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Bloecher’s command and Bradley-Morris made the company a SkillBridge provider. The approval process changed later in 2019, and Bradley-Morris became a SkillBridge provider in Virginia under Hire Vets Now. The company later received approval from the Department of Defense recognizing it as an independent provider. All in all, “The process was not too difficult,” said Bloecher.
An Easy Decision
Deciding to become a SkillBridge provider was a no-brainer for Bradley-Morris. “From the moment we learned of the new DOD SkillBridge program, we evaluated our potential participation in it,” said Tim Best, CEO of Bradley-Morris, Inc. “The idea of helping a transitioning servicemember prepare for transition while evaluating where they could impact our organization really resonated with us. The authors of this program deserve a lot of credit. It is well-considered, written and designed, something I know all of the SkillBridge participants really appreciate.”
Bloecher began a 90-day internship on April 1, 2019 as a recruiting manager. He recruited Navy veterans about employment opportunities available through Bradley-Morris, Inc. The position dovetailed well with his goals and interests. “When I retired and thought about what I wanted to do, I really liked the idea of maintaining a connection to the Navy. When this opportunity came up, it felt like something I’d been good at as a Navy officer, mentoring and coaching junior officers,” he said. Bradley-Morris hired Bloecher in July of 2019.
The SkillBridge program was easy to plug into, according to Best. “Like many companies, we have multiple departments in our organization for an intern to learn about our business. They gain specific skills and conduct meaningful work activities for that department,” he continued. “This was exactly how we executed Tyler’s SkillBridge time with us. It created a valuable experience for both him and our Recruiting Operations department.”
An Offramp to the Civilian World
Bloecher gained on-the-job training by spending lots of one-on-one time with his peers. “I sat right next to other recruiting managers and asked questions all the time. They walked me through our database, and we did mock phone calls. Those helped, because I’d never done anything like that before,” he said. The overall experience proved invaluable. “It taught me how to talk to military candidates. It was a good introduction and gave me time to absorb how to work in a civilian culture.”
Bloecher’s internship was “a slower off-ramp into the civilian world” that shifted his focus from active duty. “This was a game changer for my transition. I had a place to gain real-world experience. It lessened my stress and anxiety by getting a lot of training that I knew would help me.”
Success Helping Fellow Veterans
Bloecher enjoys helping other veterans cross the bridge into the civilian workforce. “From my experience, you go to a required separation class, but you don’t really know what the next step is. I now serve as a resource. What I love about our company is that we step in and fill the gap,” he said.
Thirteen of Bloecher’s recruited candidates earned job placements through Bradley-Morris. His first placement occurred 33 days into his internship, which Bloecher described as “really fulfilling.” “We placed a guy who’d been out of the Navy for a little bit in a sales position in San Diego. He wouldn’t have found it but for Bradley-Morris’s process. That was really cool, and everyone in the office was excited for me.”
A Win for Bradley-Morris All the Way Around
“Tyler’s internship gave us three months to evaluate his fit within our organization and where his skills are best utilized,” said Best. “We got him a few months’ head start on his development and growth. Most importantly, he’s a perfect fit for our culture of teamwork, transparency and passion for our mission. When Tyler started full time with us, we onboarded a new employee who already knew our business. He understood how to operate in his new role from day one and added to our amazing culture. We are truly grateful for the SkillBridge program and the way it brought Tyler to our team.”
Bloecher enjoys the culture at Bradley-Morris. “It’s great. Everyone has been super-welcoming,” he said. “I’ve felt like a part of the team since day one. Everyone has the same mission of helping veterans.”
Learn how to become a SkillBridge Program industry partner here.
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