[caption id="attachment_4559" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Though he had a college degree and private sector work experience, Jeff McKnight said his Operation Warfighter internship was invaluable in helping him prepare for transition."]
A college graduate with several years of private sector work experience under his belt, Jeff McKnight didn’t join the military because he was looking for a job. He joined because he was looking for an adventure. So Jeff joined the Army before he “got too old” to do his part, serve his country, and see how he liked it.
As it happened, Jeff liked the Army well enough that he was considering going to officer candidate school and making the military a career. But an injury during his first deployment forced him to medically retire instead.
Suddenly faced with another career change, Jeff heard about the Operation Warfighter (OWF) Federal internship program during a transition briefing at Fort Carson and knew he had found an answer to his dilemma.
“I knew, for me and my family, I had to get prepared for life after the military,” Jeff said. “I had to get serious about it.”
With a degree in finance, Jeff was hoping for an internship in a related field, and he got his wish. In September, he started an internship with the General Services Administration (GSA) office in Denver. And he was recently extended an offer to stay on with the agency in a permanent, full-time job once his separation from the military is complete.
GSA was very flexible when he needed to go to appointments or take care of other military business, Jeff said, and his colleagues were always willing to help him succeed in any way they could.
“There was openness there and that alone made me feel welcome,” Jeff said. “If I didn’t know how to do something, I knew they would teach me and help me.”
Though he already had experience working in the private sector, his OWF internship also helped Jeff beef up his résumé and learn new skills that will benefit him in future employment opportunities. He said he would encourage any recovering Service member to take advantage of OWF and try out as many internships as they need to find a field and career that is most interesting and fulfilling to them.
“It opens your opportunities, builds your résumé, and prepares you for your search,” Jeff said. “There are lots of things out there to try. Without this program I can honestly say I would have no idea what I was doing after the military.”
If you are interested in an OWF internship, or know someone who is, please e-mail us for more information at PR-OperationWarFighter@osd.mil.