Transitioning to Civilian Life: A Successful SkillBridge Story
January 18, 2023
When active servicemen and servicewomen are preparing to leave the military, there is often some uncertainty about how to transition into their civilian careers.
The SkillBridge program is offered through the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to help ease the transition to civilian life. Through SkillBridge, service members receive industry training through apprenticeships or internships during their last 180 days of service, while still receiving their military salary and benefits.
NSTAR is proud to be an authorized SkillBridge organization and to support this amazing benefit. We are very proud to share that we have hired our first SkillBridge program participant, Brandon Howe. Brandon completed his last 165 days of active duty at our Boise facility and became our full-time Boise shop manager this past October.
Brandon’s Journey to NSTAR
Brandon enlisted in the Air Force on June 13, 2001. He was an E-3 Tactical Aircraft Maintenance Specialist (TAMS for short) based at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. After that, he continued his service at other Air Force bases in Misawa, Japan; Clovis, N.M.; Okinawa, Japan; and Charleston, S.C. In all, Brandon served for 21 years.
When he was preparing to leave the military, Brandon was interested in finding a SkillBridge placement in Boise, Idaho. Originally from Utah, Brandon and his wife were looking for a town or city with a similar landscape and a relatively small population. He had already lined up a SkillBridge placement with another company, but he had also interviewed with NSTAR for a post-military job. The program with the other company fell through, and Brandon was able to join NSTAR.
“The SkillBridge program, especially with NSTAR, has been absolutely phenomenal.”
Once he became engaged with NSTAR through the SkillBridge program, Brandon found it easy to transition his skills to the semiconductor market. Brandon is applying his expertise with aircraft mechanics and hydraulics to his day-to-day tasks working on semiconductor manufacturing equipment in our Boise facility. He’s enjoying the opportunity to grow his knowledge in new areas, such as electrical, by taking on new projects under his supervisors’ careful training and guidance.
Another advantage of the SkillBridge program is mentorship to further facilitate the transition to civilian life. Brandon’s mentor is our Boise office director, Ron Peterson. He was able to help Brandon transition into the workforce by guiding him not only through NSTAR policies and procedures and technical projects, but also through tasks that had been handled automatically by the military during Brandon’s 21 years of service, such as timecards and insurance forms.
Semiconductors: An Unexpected Career Path
The semiconductor industry wasn’t on Brandon’s radar as a potential career, given his background in avionics. However, after being exposed to the work at NSTAR, Brandon is grateful that the SkillBridge program introduced him to a new industry.
“The biggest thing – and what I liked the most – was it opened me up to a whole career field that I didn’t know existed.”
Many servicepeople coming from the Air Force can be close-minded about career possibilities and desire to remain in the aviation industry when leaving the military, Brandon explained, or they think they only have the experience to remain where they are. He encourages anyone who thinks that to consider the semiconductor industry instead, because many of the machines and tools require the same skill set – and there are huge opportunities right now in the U.S. semiconductor market, as many leading manufacturers are growing their operations here.
Military members who are nearing their last 180 days of service can visit the DoD SkillBridge website for more information on how to apply to the program – and hopefully find a new career with NSTAR.