Almost three months have passed since I started my internship at BRAVE for Veterans, Inc. I witnessed the change in myself. At the beginning of my internship, I knew little about my supervisor, the field of veteran service, and the employment market for veterans. Though I still have a lot to learn, I am surely much more familiar with my work than before. While gaining new skills from my learning experience, I have been helping BRAVE research into the latest circumstances of veteran employment and also potential employers planning to hire veterans.
What I didn’t know at the start was that I actually learned a lot from my supervisor, Mr. Leroy Ashwood. By working closely with him, I found out that he is more than a successful social entrepreneur. He has a deep passion for his career advocating for veterans and a genuine attitude towards people regardless of their background, which he considered essential to his work. He showed me important qualities of a dedicated social worker, and I will keep them in mind.
Having attended virtual conferences and listened to podcasts about veteran service, I was amazed by the tight community of veterans and their family members. Building and maintaining connections are especially important.
I’ve been looking into the statistics provided by the Department of Labor focusing on the unemployment rate of veterans. This is part of the research for the upcoming project that helps veterans find jobs. With the latest July data just released, I learned that the overall unemployment rate of veterans last month is about ten percent, which is significantly higher than the percentage of July 2019. The virus really makes a lot of veterans lose their jobs. As I divided the data by different age groups, I found out that veterans aged 18 to 24 have an especially high unemployment rate, with 18.3% unemployed. Young veterans struggle to settle down at the start of their career.
I also looked into employers interested in hiring veterans. I then made sheets and tables including useful information, along with reports analyzing and summarizing the data. I am sure this will be the basis for the talent search project that will provide support to veterans looking for well-paid jobs.
Looking back at my experience so far, I wish I had known that I can be more proactive and give some constructive feedback about the projects I will be working on, instead of simply following instructions. I think this would be a good way for me to dedicate more effort to my internship and therefore gain more knowledge and skills from it. I also wish I had realized earlier that it’s important to have a fixed schedule when I take online classes and work at the same time. That would have helped me remove unnecessary distractions and become more efficient. If I had a chance to give advice to others who want to work at BRAVE or in the veteran service industry, I would say the key to nonprofit work is usually your determination or how much you care about what you are doing.