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Career Skills Program: a success story Part I


When one steps outside of their military career, the transition to the civilian sector can be a daunting task. After the uniform is hung and the boots are worn from years of service, military members are left with many lingering questions, ‘will I be able to find gainful and fulfilling employment?’, ‘will I be able to adapt to a new work environment?’ To ease the uncertainty of transitioning to a new way of life, the Air Force developed a program to ensure Airmen achieve career success—the Career Skills Program.

To ease the uncertainty of transitioning to a new way of life, the Air Force developed a program to ensure Airmen achieve career success — the Career Skills Program.

The Career Skills Program, or CSP, was established through the Department of Defense Instruction 1322.29, Job Training, Employment Skills, Apprenticeships, and Internships (JTEST-AI) and Air Force Instruction 36-2649 Air Force Voluntary Education Program. The CSP allows Airmen within six months of separation or retirement to become unpaid interns at jobs, either on the approved list or vetted through the program while still active duty. The end goal of the program is to obtain employment in the civilian market with little to no transition period.

“Most of the people that I’ve dealt with so far have gone out, researched and found a company they are interested in,” said Dawn Matera, 325th Force Support Squadron education services specialist. “There is a vetting checklist that they have to have the company agree upon. It is then signed by the individual and the company. Then it comes to me to review. [The company] has to meet certain criteria, and as long as it meets that criteria it will be approved.”

There are four types of CSP opportunities:

·         Apprenticeship - are generally a combination of on-the-job training (OJT) and related instruction that may be sponsored jointly by an employer and union groups, individual employers, or employer association

·         Internship – a type of work experience for entry-level job-seekers. Internships may be completed in federal, state, or local government, or in the private sector and may consist of OJT and work experience

·         On the job training – job skills learned at a place of work while performing the actual job

·         Job shadowing – OJT work experience that is normally performed in one day, where individuals learn about a job by observing the day-to-day activities of someone in the current workforce

Along with the different types of opportunities, there are rules and regulations in regards to working in the company once the member is placed.

“One of the biggest things is that while the individual is in the CSP itself, they cannot be paid or compensated at all because they are still getting paid by the Air Force,” Matera said. “The moment they start terminal leave, they can be hired and paid.

“The way it works is if they do the internship more than 30 days or more than 50 miles out of the area, they have to have a permissive Temporary Duty Assignment approved,” she added. “[In the first rendition of the program] that had to be routed all the way up to Maj.  Gen. [Brian] Kelly, [Air Force Personal Center commander], but now there is a blanket approval that he put out so it goes to Major Command for approval.”

The maximum time Airmen can be released to do this program is 180 days prior to date of separation and applicants should plan accordingly for a potentially lengthy processing time. Furthermore, as taking part in this program is an opportunity and not an entitlement, potential applicants must go through the proper channels to ensure placement.

The first success story in the CSP at Tyndall was with former U.S. Air Force Capt. Eric Lundberg from the 337th Air Control Squadron.

Lundberg began to tell his personal CSP story from Redwood City, California in his new position at Citrine Informatics where he currently works as a security program manager.

“It started off in May of 2017,” Lundberg said. “I got an email from [a friend]. He talked about the CSP and how I would be able to join a tech company while I was on active duty. After a series of interviews and having to route my package all the way up to the AFPC commander, I was able to head to the San Francisco Bay area.”

For more information on the CSP program, contact the Tyndall Force Development Center at 850-283-4285.

To read Capt. Lundberg’s story read CPS: a success story Part II and visit www.tyndall.af.mil at a later date.