Alumni Spotlight: Gary Guzman, Amazon

23-year Air Force veteran Gary Guzman tells the story of his transition.

Gary Guzman

Service: U.S. Air Force, 23 years
Education: Community College of the Air Force, Class of 2007
Major: Health Care Management
FourBlock Cohort: Seattle, Fall 2017
Current Company: Amazon (contracted through Populus Group)
Position: Technical Recruiter
Hobbies: Spending time with family, watching sports, reading, and travel

Gary Guzman is an Air Force veteran who graduated from FourBlock Seattle’s Career Readiness Program in Fall 2017 and since joined Amazon as a technical recruiter.

We recently spoke with Gary to discuss his transition from a 23-year career in the Air Force to a civilian career at one of the world’s largest, most successful companies.

What struggles did you face during your transition from active duty back into civilian life?

My biggest struggle was not having a full grasp of how the entirety of my military skills translated to the private sector. Having a background in healthcare administration, I always thought I would stay within the healthcare industry. I never considered other types of roles or industries until having the opportunity to visit different host companies. I have FourBlock to thank for opening up my career aperture.

What drove you to join FourBlock’s Seattle cohort?

I learned about FourBlock while attending a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Hiring Our Heroes informational briefing. As I continued to gain more knowledge about different programs, it didn’t take long to figure out I was able to open doors by leveraging available resources. And what better way to learn the fundamentals and create career opportunities than by participating in an amazing program like FourBlock? To me it was a no brainer!

How did the program impact your transition?

FourBlock totally impacted and altered my view of military transition. It opened my eyes to different industries, to companies I never would have considered, and to different roles that I learned were directly related to my military experience. The program immersed the cohort directly into the culture of so many different companies, which in turn, opened my eyes to other types of roles. I wouldn’t have considered a role in Recruiting and Human Resources without having gone through the program.

What were your key takeaways from the course that have contributed to your current success?

The curriculum took me out of my comfort zone from the very beginning (after having to post an “elevator pitch” introduction video). I realized it wasn’t going to be a passive type of program, and that was my first key takeaway.

I, like many others, learn best by on-hands practice, and the FourBlock Career Readiness Program teaches the basic fundamentals of networking, resume writing, social media branding, and developing professional relationships through a direct, hands-on, curriculum-based format. More importantly, the course guides the cohort through engaged self-reflection which helps each of us define our own sense of purpose as it relates to our next careers.

2008: Gary convoying in Afghanistan

What have you accomplished since completing the program?

Since finishing the FourBlock Career Readiness Program, I completed a Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship as a technical recruiter with Amazon Web Services, recently started my second recruiting contract with Amazon, and will soon start earning my Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification through Onward to Opportunity. I’m also in the early stages of launching my own HR consulting and recruiting company.

What compelled you to return to the foundation as a Canvas Contributor?

This is my way of staying connected and my sense of purpose. I learned so much during my transition and even more with a role as a recruiter, so I want to pay it forward to others who can use my help.

What do you love about your current company?

Amazon’s culture and leadership principles truly drive its mission of being the Earth’s most customer-centric company.

What one piece of key advice would you give to veterans who are currently transitioning?

It’s going to be a tough transition if you just sit back and passively apply for jobs through job boards. Start as early as you can, be engaged throughout your transition, and create your opportunities by building professional relationships and leveraging all of the available resources.

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