Q&A with Kimiko Ebata of the Posse Foundation
Kimiko Ebata, the Career Program Manager for the Posse Foundation's Veterans Program and an independent career coach (www.ki-coaching.com), has spent years nurturing veterans through pivotal moments--including Dani Rodriguez (AITAF 2018 Summer Intern) and Brian Lepak (AITAF 2019 Summer Intern, current AITAF Program Coordinator), who both transitioned into film programs at top liberal arts schools.
Kimiko spoke with Anna O'Donoghue, AITAF's Bridge Awards Chair, about resources and tools that veterans with artistic aspirations can use to form their new narratives.
Kimiko's Transition Tips:
1) Find your "Professional Why"
Anytime you're stepping into a moment of change, it's an opportunity to tune into your values. What motivates you? What's your driving force? Look for alignment in your personal values, your interests, and your professional goals. Kimiko recommends a three-pronged approach:
Reflect & Reimagine: reflect by performing a self-inventory of your own values, interests, skillsets and reimagine your professional aspirations outside of the military.
Build your narrative: craft a compelling story that highlights and effectively relays your skills, professional interests and experiences from the service in civilian terms.
Connect with others: cultivate strategic relationships with other veterans or professionals who can help you gain exposure to various career pathways and get connected with the resources and opportunities that will allow you to advance your own career goals.
These steps--reflection, narrative building, and connection--are absolutely key for aspiring artists. In using them to take stock of your professional and personal values, you're also building skills that you'll use in your creative life.
2) Get curious about your interests.
Kimiko encourages veterans who are interested in the arts and entertainment fields to take a step back and ask themselves some questions:
What is it about this industry that appeals to you? What can you learn about yourself through this interest? What are all the possibilities that this field has to offer? What do you know about the skillset and/or training it requires? Who do you know who might be able to help you learn more? How can you go about finding connections to more people who could help or advise you? What opportunities would your next role open up to you afterward?
"It is only when we're curious that we're able to see all the potential pathways of opportunity," Kimiko says.
3) Take advantage of the veteran-specific resources available to you.
* Every veteran and their spouse qualify for a free one-year subscription to LinkedIn Premium, which includes access to LinkedIn Learning courses. You can use the platform to connect with others in the military community and engage in free courses that equip veterans with the skills that they need to transition effectively, whether that be to the classroom or to the civilian workforce.
* The Veteran Mentor Network: a supportive community that offers service members the chance to seek mentorship, network, and crowd-source insights that are helpful for those who are transitioning.
* FourBlock: a semester-long, university-accredited program that provides professional development and career exploration support to veterans, by placing them in internships and jobs.
* The Washington Center's Veteran Employment Trajectory (VET) Initiative: a fully funded immersive internship program that helps veterans transfer their military experiences into competitive careers in the civilian workforce.
* Google! If you simply type "jobs for veterans" and your MOS code into the Google search bar, a list of local advertised positions will automatically populate.
4) Don't be afraid to sell yourself.
The military fosters a strong collective identity and sense of purpose--you're taught to take responsibility for the group, to value "We vs. Me."
But in the civilian world, people have a more individualistic focus. That sense of group loyalty and mission-driven decision-making is fantastic--but make sure you advocate for what makes you unique. The entertainment and arts worlds aren't nearly as linear as the military--everyone has their own path, and it's okay for you to forge and celebrate your own.
5) Your service is a professional asset.
The adaptability, resilience, and resourcefulness you've built during your time in the military are going to serve you well in any professional setting--but especially in the highly pressurized environment of a film set. Your leadership abilities and sense of mission, as well as your ability to work as part of a team, are going to help you thrive in collaborative artistic environments.
You might think that your military accomplishments aren't relevant to your next steps, but they are.
"I firmly believe that if you stand tall in the truth of who you are, the opportunities will come to you!" Kimiko says.
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