Here’s What the Holidays Have in Common With Your Career Transition

Here’s What the Holidays Have in Common With Your Career Transition
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It’s that time of year again - Santa Claus, Christmas trees, hot chocolate and mistletoe! You may be asking yourself, “Where has the time gone?”


And if you’re approaching transition from active duty, you may be asking yourself the same question.


Regardless of your tenure in the military, your “last day” is nearing. And the upcoming holiday festivities aren’t all that different from the season of career transition. Consider:



Whether it’s Christmas dinner or a New Year’s social, you’ll be celebrating a date people plan for and around. There is no “right” way to prepare, but those who prepare in advance have a much higher likelihood of enjoyment … and a better chance to avoid a frenetic experience that leaves you needing a vacation.


The same is true in preparing for your last day of service in the military. Whether you’ve been in uniform for five years or 30-plus, you will have a “last day” in the service. That can evoke a host of emotions from excitement to fear and everything in between, and sometimes all at once!


That’s perfectly normal. While you may not know your “last day” date yet, there are plenty of things you can do to prepare for your transition. Advance planning and preparation will equip you for your first day as a civilian and help mitigate stressful emotions associated with fear and anxiety so that you can thrive on the outside.


[RELATED: Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Rule Out a Job in the Tech Sector]


To support you, MOAA offers a suite of transition services and resources including webinars, workshops, LinkedIn profile review, résumé critique, and career counseling/coaching. Check out the MOAA Events page to enroll in January 2022 offerings.


Socialization (aka Networking)

The holidays are a time to gather (hopefully more in person this year than last year!) and to reconnect with friends and family near and far. People are ready to sing Christmas carols and share some holiday cheer – pass the eggnog and hot spiced wine!


Guess what? That Ugly Christmas Sweater party, that’s a networking opportunity. Dinner at grandma’s or Aunt Betty’s? That’s also a networking opportunity. The holidays and career transition are all about networking!


After all, networking is simply relationship building. So, whether you are starting, rekindling, or nurturing an existing relationship, the holidays are a great time to share your story and let everyone know you are transitioning from the military in one or two years, or six months, or whatever the timeframe. Unlike your plans to hide the presents, your transition shouldn’t be a secret.


[RELATED: Know Yourself: These 5 Steps Will Help Prepare for Tough Interview Questions]



Did someone say “party”? The season is all about celebration, and there’s plenty to be celebrated around your transition, too. Whether it is the pinnacle of a 20-plus-year career or the beginning of a new chapter after a short period in uniform, there is much to celebrate. You are not the person you were when you entered the service, and it is likely you have grown in ways you otherwise wouldn’t have.


Consider making a list of the accomplishments and experiences that have shaped you into the professional leader you are today. Celebrate what you’ve achieved, and use the list to help your transition process in these three ways:

  1. Identify what you do or do not want to pursue in your next career
  2. Craft your résumé
  3. Practice for interviews.


You have made an impact – that is cause for celebration. Own it. Yes, it can feel awkward recounting your successes, but quite frankly, you need to get over it. Start getting comfortable telling your story in a compelling, authentic manner that best communicates who you are and the value you bring to the team. That is the best gift you can give to yourself in your unique season of career transition.


‘Tis the Season!

To learn more, check out MOAA’s archive of career transition topics. Premium and Life members can access all the materials in MOAA’s webinar archive, including tips on marketing yourself for a second career. Learn more about joining MOAA or upgrading your membership at this link.


Download Marketing Yourself for a Second Career


Newly updated! Learn what you can do to prepare yourself for a successful transition from military career to civilian career. This handbook shows you how to create an attention-getting resume, cover letter, and more. Get tips on self-marketing, job search, interviews, and interviewing. (Available to Premium and Life members)

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About the Author

Cmdr. Erin Cardinal, USN (Ret), ACC, CPC
Cmdr. Erin Cardinal, USN (Ret), ACC, CPC

Cardinal is MOAA's Program Director, Transition Services & Family Programs. She is a Certified Professional Coach (CPC) and has extensive experience in coaching servicemembers through their transition from active duty to the civilian sector.