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Bridging the Employment Gap for Veterans

Bridging the Employment Gap for Veterans

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This article is part of a series focusing on individuals who dedicate their careers to serving the public in honor of Public Service Recognition Week.

Mayleka HicksMayleka HicksAmerson enlisted in the United States Navy, serving for 14 years. She now works as a Human Resource Assistant at the Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Hampton, Virginia, helping veterans in the hiring process.

Mayleka is an Ambassador at American Military University (AMU). She has her associate’s degree in general studies from AMU, and is in the process of completing her bachelor’s degree in accounting from AMU.

What inspired you to pursue a career in human resources?

In the beginning, I joined the military to move away from home, but the military quickly becomes a way of life. I soon learned why I truly signed up, and that was to serve and defend my country with “Honor, Courage, and Commitment.”

There is no greater feeling than giving back. Working at the VA Medical Center gives me the same feeling that I had in the military. I see veterans who served during a time when I was not even a thought in my parents’ minds, but those veterans gave so freely for my freedom. Now I have the opportunity to help them by finding them employment. Giving back to others is the best payback ever.

What is the most satisfying and/or enjoyable part of your career?

The most rewarding part of my career is helping veterans get hired. It feels like I’m part of bridging the gap for those veterans who are unable to find employment after their service. Also, I’m giving someone a second chance at a better life; that is a very rewarding feeling.

What impact does your work have on American citizens?

My work impacts American veterans by helping them through the job-finding process. I work with them from the initial phone call to the final job offer and onboarding process. It makes my day knowing that I have helped someone become employed, so that they may continue to live and work towards their personal goals.

Is there a moment or incident that you reflect upon fondly as being highly representative of why you pursued this career in the first place?

There isn’t one moment in particular that inspired my current position, I love giving back to my fellow veterans. I care about my applicants; I tell them the truth and I make sure they know I care. I remember conversations, even the small ones that involve a sick child or a new daycare center. These daily stories keep me motivated in my mission to help veterans.

I want veterans to know they are not just a number coming through the door. They are important and remain that way even after finding employment.

What advice would you give others pursuing a similar career?

Make sure your heart is truly in it. This is not a job for people who can’t multi-task and think forward at the same time. Also, it’s important to be willing to lead, even if you are not in a leadership position.

How has the university assisted you in your current position? Did your classroom experience and program prepare you for your role in this field?

I took a public speaking class a few years ago at American Military University, but I didn’t think I would ever use it. Although the public speaking class was an online course, the instructor taught it in a way that gave me good points about how I could improve my speaking skills.

Now I facilitate new employee orientations every two weeks and I’m able to stand in front of the class without being scared of making a mistake. I also add a little of my own humor to the process, so they not only get the good pointers from the class, but they get to see the real me.

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