Fairfax County, Fort Belvoir join forces for Growing Your Career Education Event Jan. 18

Through continuous leadership training and education, the Army encourages every Soldier to “Be All You Can Be,” and that includes giving them a way to bridge their leadership and technical skills as they look for civilian employment, according to Charles Freeman, Fort Belvoir’s transition services manager with the Fort Belvoir Transition Assistance program (TAP). Freeman said after decades in Army life, it can take assistance to ease into civilian employment.

“With TAP, we deal with people who are on their way out the door - some of whom have been in the Army over 30 years. Some people hit the ground running, and some people hit the ground,” said Freeman. “It can be a tough transition, but this new event, Growing Your Career, is planting the seeds, well in advance, and not just for the service member, but the whole family, including spouse and kids.” It’s getting everybody ready for life after the Army.”

Growing Your Career, Jan. 18, at the National Museum of the U.S. Army, is a networking and educational fair that has risen up from a consortium between Fort Belvoir TAP, Army Community Services (ACS), Barden Education Center and Fairfax County Department of Economic Initiatives. Vance Zavela serves as the Fairfax County's first official Liaison to Fort Belvoir with the Department of Economic Initiatives. He said that brainstorming during the November job fair yielded the need for something different than a job fair.

“This event is a little different, in that it helps people find a pathway to a career, instead of the career itself,” Zavela said. “It’s been a great partnership and has been driven by Fort Belvoir.”

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The event will host numerous companies with more of a model of ‘learn while you earn,’ and is focused on paid apprenticeships, internships and fellowships. Additionally, this event is open to military, spouses, National Guard and Reservists, as well as High School and College students. Freeman said two high schools have already agreed to bus in interested students, with more schools expressing interest. 

“We haven’t done anything like this in the past,” Freeman said. “This is focused on education and preparing for future opportunities rather than existing opportunities.”

Laureen DuPree, ACS’ Employment Readiness program manager, said Grow Your Career will feature organizations offering certificate training and schools with degree programs that she hopes will enhance the skill sets of our Soldiers, military spouses and Veterans – a group of people with desirable traits.

“You can teach certain occupation or related skills. But the Army experience of leadership is unique,” DuPree said, adding that she is constantly inspired by the resiliency of military families. “A military spouse is adaptable, flexible, and can hit the ground running … after years of regular family moves with their service member.”

Some of the companies at Growing Your Career provide training and certifications in computer, financial and IT skills.

Freeman hopes that this new, proactive event will be less stressful than the typical job fair, noting that this networking and educational fair is “purely informational, so employers can feel more relaxed about opening up to potential future prospects, and the participants don't come in with anxieties since they're just coming to get information and, and learn about new opportunities.”

Growing Your Career – Networking, Career & Education Fair, will be at the National Museum of the U.S. Army, Jan. 18, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Easy museum access off the Fairfax County Parkway also means no military ID or CAC cards are necessary to get in. If you want to “Be All You Can Be,” what are you waiting for? Get your free ticket at the link below.

If you prefer a standard job fair, Freeman said the next fair will be at the Army Museum May 10.

Click here to sign up.

By Paul Lara

Fort Belvoir Public Affairs