Life Hacks from a Veteran

11 NOV 2016

Drew Peterson, a vice president in the Technology Division, shares five tips on transitioning to a civilian career.

  • Be confident. One of the biggest benefits of being in the military is the amount of experience assigned at a young age. “You’re in charge of hundreds of people or a $100 million aircraft,” said Drew. “It makes you grow up really fast because you’re making decisions that are critically important. Those experiences give you the confidence that you can go into any situation and talk to anyone and do well here.” 
  • Find a passion. Drew, like many vets, said that he felt a bit lost when returning to civilian life. “The last couple of years, I struggled to find that purpose. But forming my nonprofit and getting involved in charities have helped tremendously.”
  • Manage politics. Drew sees many parallels between his military and professional experience, primarily in how one deals with and manages people. Since many of the veterans who come to Goldman Sachs through VIP are former military officers, they typically have years of experience managing or commanding a large team of people. “But unlike the military where you can bark out orders, you have to be more tactful in the corporate setting,” he said.
  • Set realistic expectations. Transitioning vets are sometimes discouraged to discover that they have to take an entry-level position or report to people who are younger than them. But if you find the right company your skills will pay off. “When you combine a great company with the leadership skills that you’ve honed in the military, you’ll rise quickly and become a great asset to the firm,” he said. 
  • Find a mentor. The right mentor can help ease a veteran into the private sector by connecting the dots for them, helping them develop a network and navigate the organization. “It’s much harder to teach someone leadership, maturity and confidence,” said Drew, who has a periodic check-in with a managing director in the Securities Division. “I’m fiercely loyal to Goldman Sachs,” he said. “It’s one of the few companies that really understand the value that vets bring to the company. I give the firm a lot of credit for that.”