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Doug I., Military and Veteran Recruiting
Doug I., Military and Veteran Recruiting

Life Changing Is ... Paying It Forward

Doug I., Military and Veteran Recruiting

“The bulk majority of our population, you train them, you teach them what you want them to do, and they're going to excel. They just need that opportunity."

As Doug wound down a 20-year career in the Air Force, he began looking for civilian job opportunities. He and his wife hoped to bring their young daughter somewhere close to their native central Pennsylvania after living 10 years overseas.

Coupled with Doug's experience in the military as a dental lab technician and medical management positions, UPMC seemed an obvious fit.

UPMC implemented the SkillBridge program across various departments within the system, connecting Doug through the Department of Defense. SkillBridge facilitates 12-week internships at civilian companies for military members nearing the end of their enlistment. It also offers additional resources to aid veterans in transitioning from military to nonmilitary work.

Doug decided to pursue a non-clinical role at UPMC and secured an internship on Erik Orient's Pathways for Veterans team. Orient is the director for Military and Veterans Affairs at UPMC.

"The sell was kind of to get your foot in the door at UPMC," Doug remembers. "'I have no clue where this is going to take us, but if nothing else, we'll get you in contact with some different managers and directors just as networking opportunities.'"

Doug's 12-week internship became a full-time job opportunity. UPMC was looking to expand its partnership with the SkillBridge program, and Doug became the point person.

"I was very fortunate because they realized there was an opportunity for the SkillBridge Program to kind of blossom," he says.

As manager of Military and Veteran Recruiting, Doug now finds himself helping veterans who are transitioning from the military to civilian work.

The SkillBridge program doesn't guarantee military members full-time employment after their internship ends. But it does give them an opportunity. And the program also offers different resources, such as helping veterans with their resume.

“Everybody comes in with different goals," Doug says. "We just try to align what we can offer with those goals and see where it lies."

Through UPMC's SkillBridge opportunities, there are considerations for various factors, including location and remote work options. In cases where a direct connection with UPMC may not materialize, Doug and his team are dedicated to assisting veterans in exploring alternative opportunities.

“The best part about what we do is we truly tailor it and individualize it to that candidate," Doug says. "Any position that we have at UPMC, we could potentially offer that as an internship. That's, I think, one of the differences between us and some other organizations.

"Some other organizations say we're looking for mechanics, and that's it. Some other will say we're looking for you name it, and that's all they're looking for. So if that's not you, then you're out of luck. We do it differently. We ask, 'What are you looking for?' and then we try to reach out for that."

UPMC is the largest SkillBridge provider in Pennsylvania. In 2022, six military members landed UPMC internships through SkillBridge. In 2023, that number soared to around 50, and Doug says he hopes to see the growth continue.

Doug says nothing makes him happier than to see a veteran land full-time employment through SkillBridge. He believes if given an opportunity and training, veterans can thrive in any line of work.

“We know for a fact that the bulk majority of our population, you train them, you teach them what you want them to do, and they're going to excel," he says. "They're going to do great at it. They just need that opportunity."

At UPMC, Life Changing Medicine means creating a chance for people to excel.

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