Jenifer Lips follows RecruitMilitary on Facebook and LinkedIn, and that’s where she heard about the company’s August 2013 career fair at Gopher Stadium in Minneapolis. Nevertheless, she almost left the event without talking to the company for which she now works. Although happily employed as an Executive Administrative Assistant at APi Group, Inc., she admits she almost missed their booth. “I saw it on the way out, and felt I needed to make as many contacts as possible to have the most success,” she relates.
APi Group Inc. is the parent company to over 40 fire protection, industrial, and specialty construction companies located throughout the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. “I wound up talking to the owner’s son without realizing it at the time.” She relayed her interest in working in either the human resources or administrative fields, and gave him her resume. He described an opening for an Executive Administrative Assistant to the CFO, and thought she would be a good fit. “I was called in for an interview the next week, and given an offer letter that day,” she says.
Lips served as an E-6 in the Minnesota Army National Guard for 10 ½ years in a variety of capacities. She was on the first CERF-P team in Pennsylvania (Certified Emergency Response Force-Package), and served on the 4th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team (WMD-CST) in Georgia. She conducted sweeps for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) materials prior to events including NASCAR races and even the Super Bowl.
Her time in the service offered the chance to travel to Croatia and Norway. The Minnesota National Guard selected Lips to attend the Norwegian Exchange (NOREX) program. She went to Norway for a two-week, winter warfare training program of complete immersion: wearing Norwegian uniforms, learning foreign customs, and Norwegian culture. “It was by far one of the most amazing experiences I have had in the military,” Lips notes.
She also served as the liaison between the 12 Americans and 12 Croatians comprising the Overseas Mission Liaison Team (OMLT). As the Mobilization NCO, she handled pre-deployment activities, organized trainings, site reconnaissance, and coordination with European Command (EUCOM).
Her last assignment was as a Readiness NCO for the 434th Chemical Company, where she handled the administrative, medical, and dental needs of 170 soldiers, while also tackling roles as acting facility maintainer, and Armory funds manager. Since the career fair, she has transferred to the Minnesota Air National Guard and continues to serve on a part time basis.
Lips’ military experience equipped her with skills in many areas, but she says, “The most valuable lessons I learned in the course of my service were always putting people first, effective communication, and leadership – all of which are inextricably intertwined and integral to success.”
She notes that her biggest challenge in looking for a civilian job was trying to adequately translate the skills on her resume. “When I attended RecruitMilitary’s career fair and was able to present myself in person, I had much greater success,” she says. She did this by telling recruiters about her work ethic, as well as by describing her experience working in both administrative and human resources capacities. She also pointed out, “I’m an experienced leader and an excellent communicator. All of these skills will work together to make me the right fit for your company.”
Lips believes veterans have a number of qualities that make them great hires. “They are disciplined, hard workers with the ability to make decisions in high-stress environments. They are also used to working with a wide demographic of individuals,” she explains. She urges other veterans: “Don’t downplay your skills. The military equips us with a plethora of abilities we don’t even realize we have – we just have to figure out what those skills are and how to present them.”