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3 Things Military Veterans Can Learn From C-3PO

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Movies are a major part of our culture, and many people draw inspiration and lessons learned from the characters and their journeys. Still, a droid programmed for etiquette and protocol probably isn’t the first place that many military veterans look to for advice.  While most people focus on leading roles, side characters can provide important lessons that we can apply to our everyday life.

C-3PO is a character who can be easily be looked past as a quirky side-kick for R2-D2. However, there are three important things that I personally learned from C-3PO after the 257th time re-watching Star Wars: A New Hope.

Uncle Owen: “I suppose you’re programmed for etiquette and protocol.”
C-3PO: “Protocol? Why, it’s my primary function, sir. I am well-versed in all the customs…”
Uncle Owen: “I have no need for a protocol droid.”

Our military experience doesn’t always fit the job description. It is important to try and translate your skill set into a way businesses can understand, and that is relatable to the specific position. Don’t try to make the job fit you or over-explain what you did in the military. Breaking down complex procedures and tasks you did in the military can help fulfill employer’s requirements.

Uncle Owen: What I really need is a droid who understands the binary language of moisture vaporators.
C-3PO: “Vaporators? Sir, my first job was programming binary load lifters, very similar to your vaporators in most respects.”
Uncle Owen: “Can you speak Bocce?”
C-3PO: “Of course I can, sir.”

Non-primary facets of our experience can be exactly what employers want. These secondary skills, if presented properly, may be more desirable then your actual military expertise. For example, if you were part of mission planning, researched local intelligence reporting to dictate “on-mission” maneuvers, produced an in-depth brief and presented it to an entire strike force — you can extract a lot of secondary skills from that. You are highly proficient in PowerPoint, Excel and other Microsoft applications, you have experience coordinating with multiple departments, and/or you have written reports and presentations that were presented to high-level “executives.” Finding these secondary skills requires you to break down what you did in the military and find how you can fit them into business roles.

Uncle Owen: “All right, shut up. I’ll take this one. Luke!”

I know when I got out of the military, I had a big head and thought I was going to just take over any business I worked at. While our military experience does benefit us a lot, we also must be willing to do our “private time” again, as my friend Luke Ryan calls it. For all the years we were in the military, businesses, employers, and employees didn’t stop working or stay idle in their skills, so you have to know when to shut up and learn again. Learn from the ground up as we did in the military and use your skills and drive to adapt, overcome, and excel.

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2 years ago

Haha! Fun metaphor! Beyond the resume and interview stage, I would add that, depending on how long you’ve been surrounded primarily by other military people, your vocabulary is probably full of military shorthand that you take for granted that about 99% of the population isn’t going to understand. So be patient while you relearn how unwind your words into a less efficient (and probably less colorful) format that nonmilspeakers can readily comprehend, or be prepared to explain yourself, a lot. At least on the serious business side of things; on the social side (even at work), it’s probably a unique… Read more »

Wayne Capacillo
2 years ago
Reply to  Miche

100% Miche! There are a lot of organizations/companies out there that help translate military skill sets to business language. I noticed when I’m doing it for my own resume, it helps breaking down my military skill sets to the very core and then placing them into the job description.

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