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Road to Success: Military Career Day at the Raceway

At Sentinels of Freedom, our goal is to assist severely wounded and injured Veterans successfully complete higher education so that they can find career-focused employment. Therefore, PG&E’s – one of our longtime partners’ – invitation for us to co-host a Military Career Day at Sonoma Raceway was a perfect fit, and we happily agreed.

Held on June 23rd as part of the NASCAR race weekend, the event attracted a crowd of 125 registered attendees and nearly 50 employers. The attendees consisted of active, guard, reserve, Veterans, and military spouses, and the employers ranged from various fields including utility (i.e. CA Public Utilities Commission, PG&E), telecommunications (i.e. Comcast, Sprint), and law enforcement (i.e. FBI, San Francisco Police Department, US Customs and Border Protection).

In addition to a career fair, attendees could also partake in two workshops. The first one, held by John Kalusa, former Navy rescue swimmer and creator of the Career Search & Rescue: Mission Transition model, focused on translating military experience to the job search process and provided participants with insightful tips to make meaningful “netlearning” connections and get more interviews. As a continuation to John’s lesson, the second workshop covered useful resume and interviewing tips to help differentiate applicants from the crowd. Held by Gia Iole, Principal Strategist – Talent Pipeline and Diversity at PG&E, and Annie Fasanaro, Executive Director of Operations at SOF, the workshop provided a practical overview of easy-to-implement job search strategies.

With the focus of this year’s Career Day being on the post-military transition of disabled Veterans, the event included a panel discussion on overcoming challenges and misconceptions that Veterans with service-related disabilities often face, not only in the job search process but throughout their careers as well. The panel’s speakers – Ana Sarver (US Navy ret.), Mark Loftus (US Navy ret.), and Mike Ergo (US Marine Corps ret.) – shared their experiences on transitioning from the military into the civilian workforce and encouraged listeners to not let their injuries get in the way of their potential.

To close off the event, NASCAR racer and US Navy lieutenant/surface warfare officer Jesse Iwuji – whose first time in a racecar was not until 2014 – shared his inspiring story of going after his dreams no matter how unattainable others may have thought they seemed. “The process is not always fun – you have to trust yourself and know your end goal. Never quit,” he told the audience. “You have to make a decision.” In addition to his career in the military and with NASCAR, Jesse also expressed his desire to further help current and former military members with realizing and fulfilling their goals.

As a whole, the event served as a unique destination for a multitude of career-focused resources for individuals seeking for their next step toward post-military success.

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