“My expectations have been surpassed in every aspect! From day one I’ve felt as though I’m part of the team and every day has felt as though a plan is in place for me to learn and grow."
Stephan (Stef-an) Shinholt; Corporate Talent Acquisition (TA) Partner (TAP) – DoD Skillbridge Intern; I work remotely from Fredericksburg, Virginia.
I’m from the cornfields of Indiana, a small town called Bunker Hill, and quickly realized that there wasn’t much there outside of farming as a career choice (no offense, but it’s not for me!). I went to college right after high school, but flunked out and lost an athletic scholarship, so the military became a lucrative option (more like my parents said it was lucrative… LOL).
On June 30, 2023 I’ll conclude a 20-year, 13-day Air Force career, in which the last 14 years will have been as a “career recruiter.” The assignments and locations I’ve had in my 20 years are:
In my free time I enjoy reading, cooking (I make a mean pancake and waffle!), lawn manicuring (yes, I’m a lawn-snob, but not the “Get off my lawn!” type; I just want it to look as good as I can make it!), an occasional video game, binge’ing shows with wifey, and almost every weekend I’m smoking meat (brisket is my nemesis; I just can’t seem to get it right!)
I was recently a student in a Veteran’s career readiness program cohort with a phenomenal non-profit organization called FourBlock. One evening per week, students learn different employment and career transition techniques/strategies and get exposure to different civilian companies each week with meet ‘n greets and networking with that company’s reps who attend. THE Launia Terry donates her free time to that organization and serves as a cohort instructor – she was my instructor and was my initial exposure to D&Z!
At one point D&Z was the “host company”; I was sold on the enthusiasm of not just Launia, but the other D&Z’ers who presented - Mary Blanton, Greg Floyd, and Alexander Atkinson, among others, whom all confirmed to me that the culture at that company must be something worth pursuing. After I did my own due diligence, learned about the company, consulted with mentors, and conversed/prayed about it with wifey, it became an easy decision that Day & Zimmermann would be a great fit for me.
So far, I’ve learned and am honing the ins-&-outs of talent sourcing, which I’ve discovered is an art that will be eternally refined no matter how much or how long you do it! 😁 My goal for my internship is to solidify my recruiting/TA skills enough to be entrusted with full TAP duties and fill job requisitions for D&Z.
I’ve never been an intern before, so I didn’t know what to expect coming in. However, my preliminary thoughts were that I was just hopeful there would be a predetermined plan/agenda in place for the internship and I wouldn’t be a burden on the team – burden by “Here’s the new person and now we’ve got to take extra time to train them and show ‘em the ropes…” etc. I’ve conversed with many other transitioning veterans who’ve participated in Skillbridge, and many of them said that their company almost didn’t know what to do with them – I was just hoping that wouldn’t be me. My expectations have been surpassed in every aspect! From day one I’ve felt as though I’m part of the team and every day has felt as though a plan is in place for me to learn and grow.
Rewarding: Honestly, just being affiliated with a company that cares about its people is reward enough for me. Not that the Air Force doesn’t care about it people, but there were times when their actions didn’t line up with the rhetoric. Transitioning out of the military and back into the civilian world has been a bigger mental and emotional challenge for me than what I projected, but working with the team I’m on has been great. Actions line up with words here; not just saying they care, but showing it by listening and empathizing with my challenges has been a breath of fresh air!
Challenging: It probably sounds overrated, but just adapting to a civilian mindset has been challenging and slow-going for me. I’m trying to accept and understand that things that matter in the military aren’t that way and/or don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things in the real world.
This is a loaded question, but I’ll try my best to streamline! Here’s a few:
I believe the intent of the Skillbridge program is magnificent - a golden opportunity for transitioning service members to set themselves up for post-military career success. The tricky part for service members can be getting connected to a company that is aligned with valuing their military experience as relevant. I feel privileged to be partnered with D&Z because my prior experience is valued here and not dismissed as irrelevant. For example, I knew there would be and quickly learned that differences exist between civilian and military recruiting/TA. But unlike some other companies I explored Skillbridge opportunities with, D&Z understood the knowledge-gaps and said “We’ll just fill in those differences, but still want you to utilize and exploit the skills you’ve gained in the military for the betterment of our organization!” This was key for me because other companies were wanting to bring me in as entry-level with no experience.
Absolutely, the program is very beneficial. However, doing Skillbridge with Day & Zimmermann is the biggest recommendation I’d tout the most. Even though I’m the company’s first DOD Skillbridge intern and the program here is relatively infant, I couldn’t have asked for a better environment and company to be affiliated with as the support and experience have far exceeded my expectations!
I’m looking forward to helping mold and shape D&Z’s Skillbridge and overall Veteran presence in the military community. D&Z is not yet a household name in that space, but it should be and I hope to play a part in making it happen. Lastly, I’m looking forward to getting to know and working with each of you, as the opportunity presents itself!