1,000 Cups of Coffee: My Journey from Soldier to Civilian Employment
Approximately 62,000 active duty Soldiers transition out of the U.S. Army every year. For me, that process began when I started my terminal leave in May 2021. After nearly a decade with the U.S. military, serving in Iraq, South Korea and Fort Hood, I finally found myself settling down in Austin, Texas. Although I had years of experience in leading global operations and project management, 1 still had no idea what I wanted to do, and I had the thought every transitioning Soldier experiences. I need a job, and I need it now!
Thankfully, my father, Peter Newell, a successful Army officer turned entrepreneur, gave me solid advice: Be comfortable with being uncomfortable in order to reach your potential.
I started with a severe case of imposter syndrome, with the unshakable feeling that the skills and talents I accrued in my eight years in the Army wouldn’t translate to the civilian world. In units where commanders valued innovation, as in deployments, I exceeded expectations and helped drive mission success because I was able to try new approaches. But under other commanders, my ideas and abilities were limited to the rank on my chest. To quote a former commander the first time I had met him: “Defense Innovation is a 2030 vision which isn’t a real thing. If you care about this stuff, you should stop wasting time and get out of the military.
Upon starting terminal leave, I began my journey of having conversations over “1,000 cups of coffee” to find my path.