The DoD SkillBridge program is one of the best opportunities for service members who plan to exit the military. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most well-kept secrets in the military. By the end of this article, you will know what the SkillBridge program is, how to apply for it, and why you should take advantage of this opportunity!
What is the DoD SkillBridge Program?
According to the official DoD SkillBridge website, “The DoD SkillBridge program is an opportunity for Service members to gain valuable civilian work experience through specific industry training, apprenticeships, or internships during the last 180 days of service. SkillBridge connects Service members with industry partners in real-world job experiences.”
This provides service members an invaluable opportunity to work for and learn from civilian career fields. There are a ton of SkillBridge programs you can apply for and a myriad of certifications you can earn through them.
For example, if you want to become a real estate agent, you could use the SkillBridge program to intern with a successful real estate brokerage. While there, you would be able to attain your real estate license and learn the ins-and-outs of being a real estate agent. Theoretically, at the end of your time working with that brokerage, you would be confident enough in your abilities to set off on your own and begin working as a real estate agent. You might even be extended an invitation to work with that team!
Why Does SkillBridge Exist?
The point of SkillBridge is to allow service members to transition smoothly back into the civilian world by gaining real-world experience and certifications while getting to confirm if that occupational field is where you want to work after your time in the military ends.
One of the best parts of this program is that you can do it for up to 180 days at the end of your active service. While in the SkillBridge program, you will still be receiving all of your military pay and benefits, which means you can focus 100% of your energy on learning the new trade.
SkillBridge doesn’t have to be local either, so you can take an internship away from your duty station and still focus on the new opportunity!
How to Apply for the DoD SkillBridge Program
You can apply for DoD SkillBridge here. Each branch of service has a different point of contact for applying, but the process is fairly similar.
- Research which SkillBridge program(s) for which you would like to apply.
- Consult with your local SkillBridge Program Manager.
- Usually assigned to the base transition or education office
- Obtain written approval to participate from your unit commander.
- First O-5 in your chain of command can sign off on this
Ultimately, you should reach out to your local SkillBridge program manager and talk to them to ensure you check all the correct boxes and meet the necessary deadlines for this program.
Authorized SkillBridge Programs
There are over 400 Authorized SkillBridge Organizations listed on the official website. There are programs all over the place with locations across the entire continental United States and also in Alaska, Hawaii, and even Puerto Rico!
You can sort through this list of programs by location, duration of the training, job description, service, experience, etc.
There are some really cool authorized SkillBridge Programs, including working at the White House in the Executive Office of the President, ARNE free fall program, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, several real estate brokerages, and tons more. There are also some programs in there that I’m not a huge fan of, and the DoD SkillBridge website clearly states that just because it’s an affiliated program does not mean it is endorsed by them.
Make sure you do your due diligence on a company and ensure that you are getting just as much out of the internship as they might be. For example, there are a few companies listed that might be recruiting for a borderline multilevel marketing program, which I’m not a fan of.
Bottom line, do your homework and ensure you are going to benefit greatly from whichever program you choose!
Additional SkillBridge Programs
Luckily, you can choose to intern with programs that aren’t on the list of authorized programs as well. That means you can find a solid company or team to intern within the town you plan to return to, even if they don’t have a program listed on the official SkillBridge website.
If you want to attempt this, simply reach out to your local SkillBridge Program Manager and they will walk you through this process. Essentially, there will be a few forms that need to be filled out, and your commander will need to approve of the program where you’re going to intern. Essentially, they want to ensure you will earn a useful certificate, gain valuable experience, or have the strong likelihood of a job offer after the program is over.
The point of this program is to ease your transition back into the civilian world, not for you to go skate for the last six months of your obligated military service.
Why You Should Take Advantage of the DoD SkillBridge Program
I think it goes without saying that you should definitely look into the DoD SkillBridge Program. If you are a self-starter or have some idea what industry you would like to work for after the military, this is a great program for you.
Let’s quickly recap the main benefits of this program:
- You will still receive all of your active duty pay and benefits during this internship.
- You have the potential to earn valuable certifications for free.
- There is a decent chance that you will receive a job offer at the end of this internship.
- The SkillBridge program can be conducted remotely.
- You can move home early to conduct a local internship.
- Might be able to conduct an internship virtually.
- You are taking steps to set yourself up for success and ensure a smooth transition out of the military.
The bottom line is this: I plan to take full advantage of the SkillBridge program when I exit the military, and I would encourage you to look into it as well! In fact, I just applied to become an authorized SkillBridge program so that I can work with service members and help them learn the ins-and-outs of content marketing, real estate investing, entrepreneurship, and so much more! …fingers crossed I get accepted, and I’ll be sure to update this accordingly!
If you’re interested in the internship opportunity with me, reach out here!