FDU veterans stake their claim in the job market
By Kenna Caprio
More than 130 veterans graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University in May 2013. A number of these graduates have already landed coveted jobs — some with the Palisades Interstate Parkway Police in Alpine, N.J. and Pomona, N.Y., others at the New York Stock Exchange Euronext and J.P. Morgan Chase and still others with various local, state and federal agencies.
Oftentimes FDU veterans find jobs with assistance from the University’s Office of Veterans Services and Career Development.
“The whole idea is to help veterans realize their higher education goals, but also have the best shot at a meaningful career when they finish their degrees here,” says Petrocelli College of Continuing Studies Dean Kenneth Vehrkens, who oversees the department. “We are always looking for job leads and potential placements for our veterans students.”
Vehrkens says the Office of Veterans Services functions as a “liaison to academics, enrollment, psychological services and career services.” That was certainly true for recent graduate Adam Temporale, 28, of Randolph, N.J.
“I was out of school for quite awhile and I went back not really knowing what I should do. The Office of Veterans Services pointed me in the right direction,” says Temporale. “Without the Office of Veterans Services, I’m not sure where I’d be right now. I’m very grateful to them for the help they’ve given me.”
On advice from the veterans office, Temporale enrolled in the BAIS degree program through Petrocelli College, with a concentration in business. He originally planned to study electrical engineering but found out early on that all his previous credits would not transfer — instead, he would only be able to take ten with him. But with the BAIS, he was able to start at FDU with 90 credits. Temporale graduated after only one year in the program. “I have two more years of military benefits and I’m definitely planning on going back to school. FDU is my number one choice right now for my master’s,” he says.
“Having a military background says a lot about person, especially if you’ve been honorably discharged,” says Temporale. “It shows that a person is very disciplined and responsible.” He thinks his background, serving in the Navy from 2008 to 2011, improved his chances of getting hired this spring by the Palisades Interstate Parkway Police. Stationed in San Diego on the USS Cleveland, Temporale worked as an electrician in the navy, doing maintenance projects and honing his managerial and people skills. “Military experience is something that not everybody has on a resume and law enforcement is a para-military organization with similar rankings,” he explains.
To whip his resume into shape, he consulted with Career Development experts.
“Christine (Vitale) in Career Development helped me write a new resume. I didn’t really know how to write one myself,” he says. “I also went to a few job fairs hosted by FDU.” The most recent Career Development job fair at the Metropolitan Campus, held on March 27, featured a veterans component. Industry specific workshops in the fields of computer science/information technology, law enforcement/criminal justice, construction/engineering, green technology, health care and entrepreneurship were targeted to veterans.
“Career Development counselors have helped veterans with their resumes and cover letters, job search and interviewing skills,” says Cathy Love, director of Career Development on the Metropolitan Campus. Counselors are available on both of the University’s New Jersey campuses.
In Temporale’s case, he found out about the Palisades Police position directly from the Office of Veterans Services. “They post job openings and were on top of the federal, state and local agencies that were hiring,” says Temporale. Staff in the veterans office recommended Temporale for the position with the police after he applied.
“In August, I will be attending the police academy for six months,” he says. “I’ll be an officer for the interstate highway. We take care of anything that happens on the parkway.”
Right now, as he completes training with the department, Temporale works as a dispatcher for the Palisades Police.
“Palisades Interstate Parkway Police hired four of our students. Other students landed positions in the New York Stock Exchange internship program,” says Office of Veterans Services director A.J. Luna. “We’re constantly getting calls and emails from organizations that want to help our veterans.”
Both Luna and Vehrkens credit the relationships the Office of Veterans Services has built with being able to facilitate veterans job placement.
“The key is networking through some of the major partnerships that we already have with law enforcement, first responder and other public sector jobs,” says Vehrkens.
The department’s connections now include the Port Authority, municipal and county police departments, New Jersey State Police, fire departments and Wall Street.
Ultimately, Vehrkens sees the Office of Veterans Services as an all-encompassing guidepost for Fairleigh Dickinson University veterans students.
“There are challenges transitioning from the military to civilian life and depending upon where deployments took place, there could be combat-related challenges,” he says. “I think the positive side is the motivation and maturity of these individuals, as they maximize their GI benefits and get the skills they need to have meaningful, post-military jobs.”
“We’re looking to help all of our students, but there’s a special commitment to address the jobless rate of veterans who’ve sacrificed for their country,” Vehrkens continues. “We want to be one of the solutions.”