Veterans at ZEISS

November 11 marked Veterans Day, a day to honor everyone who has served in the Armed Forces. At ZEISS, we are proud to welcome everyone and unite different backgrounds in our teams. We talked to some of our colleagues who transitioned from the active service to a corporate environment. Read their stories here.
Jarren is working as a Field Service Engineer in the ZEISS Research Microscopy Solutions strategic business unit. He joined ZEISS five years ago.

Can you tell us how you transitioned from your active military duty to a corporate setting?
Jarren: This is my third job outside of the military. The first job I got was with an automation company down in New Orleans. Luckily, it was a pretty good place to land on my feet straight out of the Navy. Certain companies, such as ZEISS and tech companies, require the skills that we learn in the military.

There's also a program that works as a "transition assistance", a program you can take before getting out of the Navy. It is a weeklong course to advise on everything that might help you, from how to dress to conduct yourself during interviews. It's a decent program that may need a little updating, but it puts you in the right spot for what you need to do to move on from the military.

What helped you to navigate the differences between military culture and a corporate culture, such as ZEISS?
What helped me navigate it truly was time. It took some time getting used to the different cultures. I don't think an employer or colleagues could have helped me here in any kind of way, I just needed to adapt to the new situation.

What helped you to navigate the differences between military culture and a corporate culture, such as ZEISS?
Luckily, the companies I've worked for had a lot of veterans. So being around like-minded people who have similar upbringings helped me a lot. It's almost like being in the military without the restrictions of being in the military. A good thing about the military is: everyone is new to each other. That helped us learn how to cohabitate with others, trust people, and become a family. Something that the military ingrains in you is the ability to befriend people and mix in with everyone, not just your colleagues. So, if other people have that same mentality, transitioning becomes much easier.

What also helped me navigating the differences is taking time to adapt to the new environment. It’s not easy to leave behind a mentality that you need to have being on a ship, workday starts at six o'clock in the morning, everything being very structured. Now that I work from home, I can set my own schedule. I can be late for two minutes without being scared. But it took me a while to get used to that.

What further recommendation would you give ZEISS to improve even further?
ZEISS is an excellent company. There are a lot of veterans working at ZEISS, and I've never felt like I was just “one of a select handful of people”. From what I've seen, ZEISS loves to hire veterans, especially in technical positions. But that's just my experience. I don’t know how it is on a higher level. Are there any? Do we have any representation of veterans at an executive level? If anything, I can recommend is being more visible and transparent about that aspect. But other than that, ZEISS is good about bringing us into its culture.

What recommendation would you give other veterans joining ZEISS?
Don't forget where you came from, but also know that you did your service, and now you're reaping the benefits of being a civilian. We served our country, and now, we can enjoy the benefits of having a different job outside the military.

Why would you recommend ZEISS to hire veterans?
Generally, the military provides us with troubleshooting skills, leadership skills, and knowing how to handle the admin side of things. And that's something that the military prides itself: building leaders. In my opinion, this is one of the reasons why ZEISS should hire veterans, especially as some of those skills are parallel within ZEISS' vision. The military made us perform under pressure – the training you go through builds a mindset of maintaining calm under intense pressure.

Read more stories:

Brian's Story

Brian is working as a System Installation Coordinator in the ZEISS Research Microscopy Solutions strategic business unit. He joined ZEISS nine years ago.

Can you tell us how you transitioned from your active military duty to a corporate setting?
Brian: To be honest, when I got out, I didn't have a plan on what to do. I took the first opportunity that came around and went from there. I even undervalued myself. When I was asked for the first time “What do you want as your starting wage?” I didn’t know what to answer. Luckily, I had an employer that did not take advantage of me and recognized that I was quite close to minimum wage for a skilled position and proposed to bring up the salary. For me, this was kind of shocking, but in a good way.

After that first “big” transition, my path continued to be pretty normal, but some things weren't the same. For example, I didn't have to constantly get permission to do something. Also, the topic of accountability is handled differently in a corporate environment and this still bothers me a little. I was on submarines, so the phrase “All for one and one for all” really meant something, either you all came up from a dive or none of you did. To this day, I still hold that a lot.

What helped you to navigate the differences between military culture and a corporate culture, such as ZEISS?
What helped me navigate it truly was time. It took some time getting used to the different cultures. I don't think an employer or colleagues could have helped me here in any kind of way, I just needed to adapt to the new situation.

What further recommendation would you give ZEISS to improve even further?
Be upfront, as military is very structured. And I'm also speaking from the perspective of the Navy. One thing that was almost bizarre after coming out of the military service was when I put in for vacation: In military I also had duty on the weekend, so as usually I handed in seven days of vacation to get one week off. So you can imagine my face when HR handed me two days back and I still got a whole week off. It was just completely new to me, that the weekends were included from now on!

What recommendation would you give other veterans joining ZEISS?
I would say to just take your time and adapt to the new environment. Also, don't be afraid to ask. A lot of times back in the military, most of the time I didn't want to talk to my boss, or deal with the officers. I think at ZEISS your manager is really here to support you. I got some of the best support from my managers! Even if you want to change position or the department, managers are not going to hold you back – but they're here to support you.

I would recommend ZEISS, I personally think it's a good company to work for as a veteran, and I think veterans are a great fit at ZEISS.

Why would you recommend ZEISS to hire veterans?
Speaking from my experience, when working in the Navy you're not just an electrician, but you're an electrician on the ship. You have to know the whole shipboard system, not just how an issue affects your work area. I also think the mentality that you may have differs from those that haven’t made similar experiences. I guess veterans probably have a stronger mindset that allows us to work better in stressful situations.