By Syrena Felty

Servicemembers are having trouble finding quality employment that lasts. That's why the DoD SkillBridge Program is helping military members find what they call “meaningful and gainful” employment. Today, we're breaking down the program and supplying you with everything you need to know to be set up for success.

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What Is SkillBridge?

SkillBridge is an organization that is for servicemembers who want civilian work experience. This work experience is through specific training programs such as apprenticeships or internships. The DoD SkillBridge program lasts for the servicemembers' last 180 days of service.

SkillBridge is different from other programs because it transitions members from the military world to civilian life through real-world job experiences. They work closely with industry partners to give them real world experience and in turn give partners highly trained and motivated individuals for their apprenticeships and internships. While participating in SkillBridge, one will still receive military compensation and benefits.

The "Hiring Our Hero" SkillBridge initiative is highly beneficial for members because they are transitioning from active duty to civilian careers. This program helps “bridge” that gap.

Things to Keep In Mind

Before taking part in the SkillBridge program, there are a few things that servicemembers should keep in mind as they apply.

  • Servicemembers should begin planning/prepping for the program a year before ETS or retirement.
  • You must be on active duty the first day of your SkillBridge program.
  • To start a SkillBridge internship, you need to have received prior commander approval.

How to Find DoD SkillBridge Approved Internships

The Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense has accepted a wide variety of organizations through an official memorandum. The website lists more details such as whether the opportunity is in person or hybrid. If you are looking for more specific information, such as training duration and location, you can visit the "SkillBridge Locations" table.

If you or someone you know is looking to partner with SkillBridge, and provide valuable civilian employment to military members, you can visit the SkillBridge website for the "New Industry Partner" application.

Related read: What Are the DoD SkillBridge-Approved Internships?

Is SkillBridge Available for All Branches?

SkillBridge has opportunities for members of every branch of the military. Just search for the career path you are interested in such as sales, welding, or mechanics. On MyNavyHR, they have a tab titled “Career Management” where you can click on transition and find a page with information on SkillBridge Navy information.

MyNavyHR writes, “Sailors can be granted up to 180 days of permissive duty to focus solely on training full-time with approved industry partners after unit commander (first O-4/Field Grade commander in chain of command) provides written authorization and approval." These industry partners offer real-world training and work experience in in-demand fields, while having the opportunity to evaluate servicemembers' suitability for the work.

Thanks to SkillBridge, many servicemembers have even been keeping their jobs. However, author Irene Loewenson explains how there was almost a bill that would only allow active duty SkillBridge USMC members to be a part of their program for three to four months. Loewenson mentions that the bill was posted on the USMC online library of publicly releasable publications, orders, and directives. However, it was released on accident and changes are in the making.

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