Military Vets Offer Unique Job Skills

Duke turns attention to recruiting from armed services

Retired Maj. Mike Snyder, safety manager for Duke’s Facilities Management Department, spent 26 years in the Marine Corps, serving in both the enlisted and officer ranks between 1974 and 2001.
Retired Maj. Mike Snyder, safety manager for Duke’s Facilities Management Department, spent 26 years in the Marine Corps, serving in both the enlisted and officer ranks between 1974 and 2001.

During more than 26 years in the Marine Corps, retired Maj. Mike Snyder learned a variety of skills that extended beyond his enlistment.

From discipline to multi-tasking and communication, Snyder honed his abilities while serving in headquarters, corrections, artillery, security and infantry units in California, Egypt, Germany, Japan, and other locations. After retiring in 2001, he found his time with the Marines served him well in everyday interactions and in the next stage of his career, too.

Now working as safety manager for Duke’s Facilities Management Department, Snyder believes life experiences found through serving his country are transferable in his day-to-day work on campus, including adapting to situations and working well with others.

“The responsibilities thrust upon you in the military as a young person of 18 to 22 years old generally aren’t found in civilian life,” Snyder said. “So when veterans come through the door here at Duke, they’ve already got a set of skills that aren’t taught, but learned.”

That kind of exposure has encouraged Duke in recent years to focus attention on recruiting and hiring military veterans. Last year, 2,034 applicants self-identified as a veteran when applying to work at Duke; that number is on track to be exceeded by about 300 this year.

The uptick in applications can be partially attributed to an increased effort in recruiting before federal law changed in 2014, which mandates some employers set benchmarks for veteran hiring.

Along with print and online ads for openings, Duke recruiters have attended a variety of military-focused presentations and career fairs. Duke has also launched a “Jobs for Veterans” website. Currently, about 800 faculty and staff at Duke are military veterans.

“Duke has a long history of supporting men and women who have served in the military, because of their unique skills and experiences that benefit Duke’s mission and enhance the abilities of others who work here,” said Denise Motley, director of Duke Recruitment and Staffing in Human Resources. “Finding qualified veterans to join our faculty and staff can only benefit us.”

At Carley Parker’s Clinical Engineering office in Duke University Health System, about a quarter of the roughly 30 employees are veterans. Parker said veterans show strong communication skills and often have mindsets geared toward group productivity.

“The military spends a lot of time training these individuals, so they can be very tech savvy,” said Parker, assistant director with Clinical Engineering. “In the military, many are well-rounded with exposure to all sorts of environments and expectations.”