Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Veteran Spotlight: Chris Canfield

Chris Canfield transitioned out of the Marine Corps in July 2008 and started a career with RQ Construction through Orion International. Since that time, he has been rapidly promoted, which he attributes to his time in service. Chris's story exemplifies the type of success veterans are having in the civilian workforce.

Chris’s first position in the construction industry was as a Project Engineer. RQ Construction is a general contractor firm in the commercial construction industry specializing in government buildings ranging from BEQs to Armories, to all buildings and structures in between. They have an internal career advancement program into which Chris was placed back in 2008. Chris’s program was called the Project Engineer Farming System, where they developed his values and skill sets to match those required by his eventual position in the company as a Project Manager.

Chris first served as Project Engineer on a project for the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) at Camp Pendleton. At the end of 2009, he was promoted to Assistant Project Manager. “The rapid promotion was based on my leadership, management, and communication experience gained in the military. During that time, I also helped write various parts of our company’s proposals, mainly because I was able to understand what the lingo was and how it applied to our projects,” explains Chris.

When the MARSOC project ended in the summer of 2010, Chris was assigned as an APM for a utilities job at Camp Pendleton. That assignment did not last long, however, as Chris was promoted to Project Manager and asked to take over a struggling job in Camp Lejeune, NC, as well as run a project at Miramar, CA.

Chris attributes his rapid promotion and being trusted to run two concurrent projects to the competencies and values he learned while serving. He sees his military skills and background as a valued entity to the civilian world. "There are a lot of skills and competencies that we pick up along the way while we serve that we may not recognize as important, but in the civilian world, they are extremely valuable," explains Chris, "These include time and resource management, organization skills, communication skills, flexibility and adaptability, managing people and situations, and leadership. My company told me they were looking for leadership, and that they would teach me the construction part."

In addition to keeping these skills in mind, Chris advises other veterans to network, thoroughly research each company you interview with, and be bulletproof in your interviews. To be able to remain calm and confident in otherwise stressful situations and meetings is important, as well. This was the plan Chris followed that led to a successful transition. Skills like those listed above set veterans apart in the civilian workplace and enable them to succeed just like Chris.

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