How I left my military career to go corporate

By Melanie Golladay, Manager, Accenture Operations, Tampa
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I’d like to share my personal story with you in the hopes that it will inspire and help you on your journey.

After graduating from Auburn University on a full scholarship, I was commissioned as an Officer in the US Air Force, where I served time on active duty. I was shipped off to San Antonio and spent nearly five years in financial management before deciding to leave.

Some might think leaving the military would be an easy choice, but I was faced with constant adversity, negativity and doubt. Around every corner someone was telling me I was either “throwing away a great career,” that “I would never find a job in this economy,” or that I was “quitting,” even after I had faithfully served more than my required time.

I decided to make the change because I wanted a new challenge, and while I loved aspects of the military, which is why I am still serving in the Reserves today, I really wanted a little more control to define my career and make my own career choices. There are good reasons for it, but the military, at times, can be narrow with your career options.

Needless to say, it was a very difficult last year as Captain Golladay. In the end it wasn’t an easy decision and it certainly wasn’t comfortable, but I did it.

I found a great job immediately after leaving the military but soon realized that it was not where I saw myself learning and growing long term. So, again, I started to look. I made a connection on LinkedIn with Chris Green at Accenture, a global professional services company, to inquire about military hiring programs. We kept in touch for several months before something that was right for me came up. I went through the recruitment process and, in April 2014, was offered a solution architect role.

They recognized my unique background and the potential it could bring to my role. The demanding military culture had also prepared me well for performing in Accenture’s culture of excellence. The company is supportive of Reservists, and the people I meet at Accenture think it is very cool that I do the Reserves as well.

In my first role, I got an amazing opportunity to work on a proposed plan for a very large deal. It forced me to learn and grow and push my limits. Most importantly, I was empowered to do something really important, while being supported 110 percent along the way by my career counselor and teammates.

It was such a great introduction to the organization’s culture, and I really cannot wait to see what else is in store!