In a late 2019 blog post, I detailed the year that had been - a year of so much "new" for HKY4Vets that it was honestly difficult to remember ALL that had been devised, planned, worked on, changed, moved forward and hoped for in those 12 short months.
I went on to claim that with so much of that "building" behind us, it felt like we could move forward and really grow. I viewed 2020 as a year of growth AND maturity for HKY4Vets.
But I left it on a cliffhanger.....never really mentioning what we foresaw as our strategic objectives for 2020. I am sure for you, the reader, the anticipation has simply been overwhelming.
With our efforts for 2020 already well underway, it seems appropriate to put a line in the sand and publicly acknowledge where our energies and focus lie for these next 12 months.
For 2020, HKY4Vets is seeking greater simplicity, pursuing 3 main objectives in support of our mission and long-term vision:
1. Establish the HKY4Vets Industry Fellows Program, initially partnering with the US Chamber of Commerce's Corporate Fellowship Program.
The Corporate Fellowship Program is a 12 week program held 3 times a year in 16 locations around the country, to include a remote program (this would be our area!) for employers located outside of existing program sites. Traditionally, it has connected transitioning service members to opportunities for hands-on corporate training, mentoring, and earning certifications while helping employers tap into a pool of top talent.
It is an awesome opportunity for both transitioning military and employers.
For transitioning military, they benefit from:
Private industry experience, often a significant gap on military resumes
Continue to be paid as active duty through "Uncle Sam"
Occurs during the last 6 months of active duty, increasing the possibility of a smooth transition from military paycheck to civilian paycheck
A job interview with the host company is basically mandatory at the end of the Fellowship; much higher likelihood of job offer
For participating employers, they benefit from:
Zero cost to the employer for an internship(s) by world-class talent
A significant period to "test drive" a potential employee for eventual hiring
Very little bureaucracy, easy paperwork - few requirements
We are extremely excited about the potential of this program for our community and those potential Fellows considering "anywhere in the US" or even opportunities in the Greater Charlotte (would include us in there).
We have already held numerous rounds of discussions with the Corporate Fellows staff and a number of our local companies; we are hopeful to have several companies (and eventually Fellows) participate in 2020's 2nd Cohort, with a kickoff here in mid-March.
2. Establish a regional veteran network that can benefit the professional aspirations and social channels of the region’s existing veterans
Despite wonderful existing groups in the area (think American Legion, VFW, etc.) there is a fairly large population of local veterans that remain "unconnected" - be it professionally, socially, etc.
With this in mind, we have recently started HKY4Vets Professional Connections (PC) on LinkedIn (search within Groups for HKY4Vets Professional Connections) to create a focused professional networking environment for those Military Veterans located in or returning to the Greater Hickory Metro of North Carolina.
The goal of the network is to harness the skills, knowledge, experience and personal and professional networks of the area’s veterans and others veteran-friendly individuals in the community—to form a network of support for military veterans.
But now we are leaping off the confines of LinkedIn, with our first in-person networking opportunity on March 18th. Digital connections are great, but the opportunity to interact and meet others in person still remains the greatest way to build lasting, positive connections.
We hope to continue these throughout 2020, with the eventual goal that this effort evolves beyond our confines and begins taking on a life and direction all its own.
3. Pursue financial and “personnel balancing” steps to ensure the sustainability of the
program beyond 2020
HKY4Vets benefits greatly from the direction and energies of our Steering Committee, but the day-to-day operations, marketing, strategory, budgeting, fundraising, etc. rely on two people.
Did I mention these two people have daily responsibilities with their "actual" jobs and HKY4Vets is in some ways "above and beyond" their typical responsibilities? Yes, we have awesome and supportive Boards/Bosses - but still, our Exec team is pretty darn split among many things.
With this setup, I/we still feel like we do a ton, but this type of structure is not in the best interests of HKY4Vets. You have to ask yourself, if one of us were gone tomorrow, would HKY4Vets still thrive or even survive? At this moment, too many eggs are stowed in only a couple of baskets.
So, in 2020 - to ensure this program can survive and thrive beyond any one or two people - we plan to:
Respect our limitations and "farm out" some responsibilities to experts (e.g., marketing). They not only will produce more effective results, but save us time and "busywork"
Empower the volunteers of the Steering Committee to take more ownership of particular initiatives, especially those of greatest interest and impact to them (e.g., HKY4Vets Professional Connections)
I said 2020 would be simplified - but as you can see each of these strategic objectives is filled with nuance and lots of work. Simplicity does not always imply less work, but it does imply intense focus and looking for the opportunities that produce the greatest strategic value.
We appreciate your continued interest in HKY4Vets and knowing where we are heading in 2020 and beyond. If you would like to learn how you can support or participate as a veteran, company or interested citizen, always feel free to reach out to us.