After being honorably discharged from the U.S. Army, Specialist DeeAnna M. Baxter-Stone struggled to find a civilian career that was the right fit. She took odd jobs to help make ends meet, but struggled financially.
With a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, DeeAnna sought work as a federal contractor conducting military investigations but was unable to pass the physical tests due to a shoulder injury.
She was first referred to the Utah South County Employment Center in August 2015. Art Fracchia, an employment counselor with the Disabled Veteran Outreach Program, helped her apply for a position with a security company DeeAnna thought would provide the real-world experience she needed for a law enforcement career. She was offered a position and eventually promoted to project manager, but very long hours left little time for her family and personal life.
“Art was extremely supportive of me when I let him know I was very unhappy in the first job, and he did not hesitate to start all over again to help me look for something that I could make a career out of,” DeeAnna said.
Art then connected her with the state’s Work Success program, where she took several career development classes and participated in networking events.
During this time Art also helped her tailor her resume and coached her on the interviewing process. DeeAnna applied for a number of jobs with no luck. But she didn’t give up and neither did Art.
“DeeAnna listened to all of the advice we gave her. She has a ‘never give up’ attitude. She is a great person to work with,” said Art.
Art proposed she try a completely different route: the Zions Bank Military Internship Program for honorably discharged veterans. The 12-week intensive paid internship provides banking education and mentorship that enhances veterans’ skills and resumes. It also offers job search education and assistance, and opportunities for networking and community involvement.
After classroom training, participants begin rotations through various aspects of banking infrastructure such as regulations, corporate collections, commercial lending, bank fraud, money laundering, and IT. Participants may be hired by bank management at the end of the process. Although this was outside the scope of what DeeAnna had originally wanted to pursue professionally, she saw a real opportunity to use her prior skills with computers and writing, as well as her military leadership experience.
After completing the classroom portion, DeeAnna didn’t even have a chance to finish the internship because Zions Bank was so impressed by her qualifications and aptitude that they offered her a full-time position with a base salary of $65,000 a year, paid leave, and other benefits. She began working for the bank in May as an anti-money laundering/fraud compliance analyst, and is grateful for a 40-hour a week schedule that allows her to spend quality time with her family.
“Had it not been for my representative, I would have never even considered working where I am, basically because I did not know there were positions offered that had coincided with my education,” DeeAnna said.
Veterans can receive one-on-one assistance at American Job Centers across the country. Visit www.veterans.gov for more information or call 1-877-US2-JOBS to find your local center.
Editor’s note: DeeAnna's story is one example of an effective workforce program in action. View more success stories here.
George Riedel is the deputy regional administrator for the Department’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Services in Dallas.