Editor’s note: Recruitment for a new training initiative is underway for veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses. Qualifying participants are able to take the BioWork course for free through Central Carolina Community College or Durham Technical Community College. This unique opportunity is available through the Military Service Members in Biopharma Manufacturing initiative, and the first step toward a fulfilling civilian career.

 Visit the NCBiotech website to register for the program or learn more about the initiative.

Here’s one former Marine’s view of NCBiotech’s efforts to show transitioning military personnel the benefits of a biomanufacturing career.

Each Wednesday, WRAL TechWire features a story highlighting the NC Bio Jobs Hub initiative.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – As a Marine, I’m proud of my employer.

People at North Carolina’s huge military bases who are transitioning into civilian life are getting an amazing new opportunity, thanks to the North Carolina Biotechnology Center and its partners.

Veterans, transitioning service members and their spouses now have a chance to explore highly rewarding civilian careers in biopharmaceutical manufacturing, through a creative program NCBiotech initiated at Fort Bragg, the world’s largest military base.

It’s highly likely that very few of these soldiers have ever even considered pharmaceutical manufacturing as a career that would be available to them. But now, thanks to NCBiotech and its Veterans Outreach Program Consultant Elizabeth Ellis, there’s a pathway opening for military experience to be translated into good-paying careers.

Randy Handwork (Photo courtesy of NC Biotech Center)

The son of a Marine, I knew I was destined to join the Marines. So, in the spring of 1992 I headed off to bootcamp and put my feet on those famous yellow footprints. I will tell anyone who listens that it was one of the best decisions I ever made. This is true because of the advice my father gave me prior to enlistment.

His advice: “Join up and do something you love while you are in the Marines. Learn that skill. There is a life after the Corps.” That advice shaped my life.

I spent the next four years in the communications field. I attended Coastal Community College between deployments and did an internship with one of my professors. At the end of my enlistment I had a skill that was valued by employers and had earned the title Marine in the process.

I learned how valuable my father’s words were about a month prior to my EOS (End of Service Contract).

When it came time for me to return to civilian life, I remember sitting in a room full of fellow Marines where a Staff Sergeant was supposed to help with our transition. He was a man of few words.

“How many 0300’s (infantrymen) do I have in here today?”

The place erupted.

He replied with “I can’t help you! There is no equivalent job in the civilian world!” The silence was deafening as reality set in for those young Marines.

Back then there were very little resources to help military personnel transition to the civilian world. I remember that day vividly and I am proud to be a part of an organization that is changing that reality for veterans.

I was lucky. I had experience and training when I transitioned from life as a Corporal to life in corporate – joining NCBiotech’s fledgling IT department in June 1996, fresh out of the Marines.

To learn more about NCBiotech’s creative workforce recruitment programs, including the Veterans Outreach Program, go to Episode 4 of our Transformation Talks podcasts.