If there is one ingredient in the recipe for a successful transition to civilian life that I could recommend, it would be to find and work with a mentor.
The simple definition of a mentor is “an experienced, trusted advisor”. Such a small definition, to what amounts to be a life changing and important tool in succeeding in your transition into the civilian world and the next chapter of your career.
There are many programs and websites out there to help you find a mentor. You could simply do some networking and look up people on social media channels who are successful in your given area of interests or expertise, and reach out to see if they are willing to be a mentor to you during your career.
This mentor could be someone who previously went thru the military to civilian transition, and so could guide you thru this difficult life style change. It could be someone who has no military background what so ever, but understands the career track you want to get in to, what skills and/or training is necessary, and how you can get into the next role you are seeking. It could be an entrepreneur who understands business and challenges of going it alone. Or it could be someone like myself in HR, who has broad experience across job markets & sectors, who understands resume building, interviewing and job hunting skills.
The key to finding and working with a successful mentor is to be honest with what you are looking for, what your goals are and what challenges you are facing, and to be completely open and receptive to non-biased constructive criticism. A good mentor will tell it to you straight, while guiding you and giving you the required feedback to help you succeed.
Mentorship not only applies during your transition into the civilian workforce, but during the rest of your career! Constantly find and work with someone who can challenge and motivate you and help guide you to your next steps in your career.