Imagine there is a great opportunity for Servicemembers, but they have to know about it themselves because no one in the military tells them about it until they are ready to end their service. Such is the case with SkillBridge. Transitioning service members in their last 180 days of service and approval from the first O-4 field grade commander in their chain of command are eligible to participate in a DoD SkillBridge-authorized program.
Skillbridge programs are designed to prepare Servicemembers to transition into the civilian world by providing employable training and the skills necessary for meaningful employment. The DoD Skillbridge program is not a funding mechanism.
But SkillBridge is a tricky animal for a few reasons. Here are a few tips to prepare you for the Skillbridge process.
The first challenge of the Skillbridge process is timing. As many have discovered, the problem is that by the time most military personnel learn about the opportunity, it is too late to participate. Many Skillbridge opportunities, like Code Platoon, require several months in advance to prepare. If they only find out about SkillBridge in their last 180 days, they will not have the time they need to successfully find and apply to a program.
So, here are the three most important steps for approaching SkillBridge.
Step one – Learn about SkillBridge
There are many different types of Skillbridge programs in different industries. Contact your base’s education center and find out about opportunities that best match your skill set. Then, start conversations with your chain of command and find out everything you can about the approval process (and, ideally, tell everyone you know about it).
Step two – Find a Program
Once you’ve learned the process from your education center, you must find a program that matches where you want to take your career after your military service. Once you’ve decided to embark on this path, then it’s time to narrow down what you want to do with it.
For those who wish to enter into the tech field, learning to write code should be high on the list of considerations for direction. Code Platoon is the only school of its type that exclusively serves the military and Veteran community, so it’s a natural fit for those choosing that path.
Step three – Apply and Approval
Applying to any program takes time and mental energy. The Code Platoon application process is no exception.
To be accepted to Code Platoon, students must complete a series of coding challenges that demonstrate their willingness to, at least to a small degree, teach themselves enough to get started. Self-starters are who succeed not just in our program, but also in the coding world in general.
We recommend that the average student with some coding experience allow for a few weeks of preparation in order to do well on the application challenges. If you are a total beginner to coding, we suggest completing our free, self-paced Intro to Coding course before starting the challenges. This could add a few weeks to the process, but will definitely help in completing the challenges.
Don’t forget to allow for command approval as part of your application process. Code Platoon can accept you, but your chain of command must approve your participation. Code Platoon does provide an Introductory Letter from Code Platoon and a template for command approval to help in the process.
Code Platoon runs three full-time cohorts per year, which means start-dates are typically in the January, May, and October time-frames. With cohorts lasting 15 weeks, the need for one of those date-ranges needing to fit in with a Servicemember’s last 180 days in service, the length of the application process and the preparation needed, realistically one needs to plan at least 9 months in advance to attend Code Platoon.
Using SkillBridge to take advantage of a program like Code Platoon is an amazing chance to launch your career in this field with hands-on, viable, and employable skills before you even leave the military. You are set up for success while still being an active duty Soldier, Sailor, Airmen, or Marine.
Reach out to your base education center and also to us for more details, as SkillBridge is not something you want to miss out on.
Greg Drobny is a former Airborne Infantryman, PSYOP Team Chief, political consultant, professional mil blogger, and is Code Platoon’s Student Outreach and Recruitment Manager. He holds a BA and MA in history, as well as a Masters of Science in organizational psychology. He is married with four children who keep him more than slightly busy and is passionate about helping Veterans find their paths in life and develop the skills needed to pursue their goals.