For many transitioning out of the military, the list of career and job options focuses on more technically driven or skills-based options. You were a pilot in the Air Force? Commercial pilot sounds like a natural fit. Worked as a munitions inspector in the Army? Search for firearms inspector positions (or the like) on job boards.
But what if your interests lie in more imaginative fields? Can you go from combat to creative? KP Phillips, USA, host of The Morning Foundation Podcast, shares how he got into podcasting:
Lida: Please describe your military experience.
KP: “I knew I wanted to go to college, but my retired Army veteran father told me, ‘You weren’t smart enough to get a scholarship, so you can join the military.’ Three days after my high school graduation, I joined the Army National Guard, went to Army Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. The following year, I enrolled at Wright State University.
“My Army training enriched my understanding of duty and selfless service, and I sought a commission through my university’s Army ROTC battalion. Upon graduation from Wright State, I received my Army officer commission as a second lieutenant, and I was stationed back in my birth state of Hawaii, with the 25th Infantry Division.
“When I decided to go active duty, which at the time, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom were taking place, I deployed to a combat unit in Mosul, Iraq, in 2004, as a transportation platoon leader. It was a challenging leadership experience managing a platoon of 37 soldiers and working as a convoy commander, traveling on some of Iraq’s most dangerous supply routes.
“Shortly after my deployment, I was promoted to the rank of captain, O-3, and was assigned as a battalion training officer, providing combat training for hundreds of combat service support soldiers. I resigned my commission in 2007, feeling I’d successfully completed my intentions of serving my country in war time.
“The transition out of uniform was challenging. I struggled to ‘speak civilian,’ drop the military acronyms and lingo, and had a few jobs until I found my path and explored more creative career options.”
Lida: How did you find podcasting?
KP: “I’d dabbled in content creation and YouTube while searching for purpose and focus in my career. After listening to several podcasts, I felt audio podcasting created a deeper relationship with the audience than video did and fell in love with the conversations.
“This led me to name my own podcast, ‘The Morning Formation Podcast,’ since the Army’s morning formation was the time when leaders disseminated information, checked on soldiers’ welfare and took inventory of what was happening.
“As I began interviewing guests and hearing (then sharing) their stories, I realized that my own transition experience wasn’t that unique. Individuals exiting the military needed to hear what’s possible, to feel inspired and excited about a post-military career and learn from those who’ve gone before them.”
Lida: What surprised you the most about being in a creative field?
KP: “While it’s a creative endeavor, I never knew how much technical acumen you need for podcasting. I thought I could just buy a microphone and start, but this field is more technical. I spoke to other podcasters and interviewers and learned from those who’d built large audiences online to get up to speed on my audio skills.
“I was also surprised by how podcasting is truly an ‘art.’ While I’m a perfectionist with audio, sound and content creation, there’s a creative element this unleashed in me that I didn’t know was there.”
Lida: What advice do you have for someone curious about working in a creative field?
KP: “If you believe in yourself and your skills, are willing to work hard and ask good questions, and you possess a ‘don’t-quit’ attitude, then a creative field is a great option. Many of us, including myself, were raised to take the safe path of an hourly wage. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you feel compelled to take a leap of faith into a creative venture, and you’re willing to put in the work, it can be an amazing experience to build on those skills and traits you developed in the military.”
The author of "Success After Service: How to Take Control of Your Job Search and Career After Military Duty” (2020) and "Your Next Mission: A personal branding guide for the military-to-civilian transition" (2014), Lida Citroën is a keynote speaker and presenter, executive coach, popular TEDx speaker and instructor of multiple courses on LinkedIn Learning. She regularly presents workshops on personal branding, executive presence, leadership communication and reputation risk management.
A contributing writer for Military.com, Lida is a passionate supporter of the military, volunteering her time to help veterans transition to civilian careers and assist employers who seek to hire military talent. She regularly speaks at conferences, corporate meetings and events focused on military transition.
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