Updated:
November 9, 2022

EquipmentShare Launches SkillBridge Program to Recruit Veterans to the Workforce

compilation of 6 ES SkillBridge veterans
Culture
Profiles

Typically, when someone enters the military, they are young, fresh out of high school or college, and it might be the first job they’ve ever had. Whether they’ve served five years or 25, when it’s time to transition back to civilian life and careers, these soon-to-be veterans are looking for employers who are willing to join them on their journey to identify how their skills can translate.

The United States Department of Defense created a program called SkillBridge in 2011 to assist transitioning service members into civilian jobs. During the last six months of their service, service members can try out civilian jobs through an internship rotation at a sponsoring company. EquipmentShare is an authorized SkillBridge employer and began taking military interns in 2021.

“At EquipmentShare, we understand that no two service members are the same and they leave with different skill sets at different levels,” Tyler Reyes, military and veteran recruitment manager, said. “As the veteran recruitment program grew in 2021, we quickly learned that veterans possess valuable skills outside heavy equipment technician roles. The average internship at an EquipmentShare shop will last about ninety days with the intern completing rotations in several areas.”

On Veterans Day 2020, EquipmentShare committed to increasing the number of veterans in our company by 50% to make up 15% of our workforce - or more than 300 veterans in total.

At that time, EquipmentShare had 183 veteran team members. As of November 2022, we employ 372 veterans - surpassing our goal - and we are continually recruiting more. With the addition of the SkillBridge internship program, the total stands at nearly 400.

Here are a few veterans, and soon-to-be veterans, who are going through, or recently completed the EquipmentShare SkillBridge internship program.

Sarah Sparks

Telematics: Boise, Idaho

Sarah knew college wasn’t for her, and she decided she wanted to join the Army. When it came time for her appointment with the Army recruiter, he didn’t show up. Sarah’s father, a Marine, took his chance and brought her to the Marine Corps recruiting office instead. Sarah, a native of Georgia, enlisted in 2017 and reported to North Carolina for training. While in boot camp, she was offered a role as a Russian cryptologic linguist that came with more pay so decided to try it. After traveling the world with the Marine Corps, she and her Marine husband are ready to become civilians again and settle down. 

Sarah Sparks

When looking for a SkillBridge destination, Sarah came across EquipmentShare. Based on the quick responses to her inquiries from Tyler and a great interview, she picked the Boise, Idaho, location for her internship. 

“I talked with three companies, and EquipmentShare was the fastest and most responsive. I like the roles that were offered, and I like using my brain and being outside, not stuck in an office. This is the perfect combination of those factors for me,” Sarah said. 

After completing her rotations trying out various roles, Sarah will be hired full-time and work as a telematics installer, putting T3 technology in equipment. 

“It’s great because it’s not overly complicated,” Sarah said. “I don’t have a background in electronics, but I have a background in radios and those skills can transfer over. Knowing how things work, technology-wise, has been really helpful in this role.”

David Durnwald

Military intern: Jacksonville, Florida

David Durnwald always knew he wanted to join the military — except for the brief period he wanted to be a train conductor as a kid. When he was 17, his parents joined him at the recruiting office as he enlisted in the Navy. Growing up in a small town, with not even a single stoplight, he knew his choices were to leave town, work in a factory — or join the military. 

“I knew I wanted to leave home and travel, and to make a good income,” David said. “When I joined the Navy, I was able to travel and I learned a lot.”

David started his career as a fire controlman in the Navy, working on Aegis weapons firing systems and missiles. Currently stationed in Jacksonville, Florida, David has had the opportunity to travel to 14 countries, including Spain. As David transitions from the Navy, he’s looking forward to staying in the Jacksonville area so his wife can finish school and they can set down roots.

David began a SkillBridge internship with EquipmentShare in July 2022, and learned quickly how many skills would translate well from the military to civilian life.

“In the military, I grew up quickly and matured fast,” David said. “I learned how to interact and hold a conversation, speak professionally, solve problems and I was taught leadership skills. I had a management role in the Navy, and I learned how to take care of my team and how to talk to people and work with them. All of these skills are helping me now in the civilian world.”

David Durnwald, second from right

David has been able to test drive roles, including shop technician, yard technician, delivery driver, parts management, dispatch and front office management. His internship will also include a turn at sales and branch management.

“I’ve really enjoyed this internship and learning why things happen the way they do and how things operate,” David said. “My goal is to get hired at EquipmentShare and possibly work in sales. I can see myself here for a long time. My advice to anyone doing the SkillBridge internship with EquipmentShare would be to relax, enjoy the internship, try to make a name for yourself, work hard and go the extra mile.”

Angelica Guerrero

Contracts specialist/parts management: San Antonio

Angelica Guerrero played softball and hoped a scholarship would get her through college. Unfortunately, softball scholarships were few and far between, so she decided to join the Air Force in 2000 – enlisting while still a senior in high school. A role she never quite envisioned for herself became her career for the last 22 years. Now, she’s looking toward her retirement in 2023. 

“I started as a supply management technician, and I was sent to Italy as my first station,” Angelica said. “I was excited to travel, but I had expected to stay a little closer to home.”

In her two decades in the USAF, Angelica has traveled the world, including South Korea, Japan and deployments to Iraq and Kyrgyzstan. She is currently a contract specialist and works with government contractors. She began her SkillBridge internship in September 2022, in our San Antonio branch.

“It's been really nice that Equipmentshare will work with my experience and my background and find the right spot for me,” Angelica said. “After contracts, I get to try out the parts manager role, and it’s nice to have some flexibility and not be boxed in at this company. I’m excited to see the way the branches work and check out all the equipment.”

Angelica Guerrero

Angelica is settling back into civilian life with her son in San Antonio, and they’ll be close to family again after moving so many times in the last 22 years. The number of EquipmentShare locations throughout the country was something that appealed to Angelica, because she could work almost anywhere, including back home.

“When I signed up through SkillBridge I didn’t realize how veteran-friendly this company was,” Angelica said. “I saw the veterans Slack channel and the resource groups and more veteran activity than I’ve seen at other companies. In my experience, some companies find it difficult to communicate with veterans, so it’s nice to see there is a company where I can connect with other veterans. I feel appreciated and welcomed.”

Kirk Pearson

Rental coordinator: Abilene, Texas

Kirk Pearson, Air Force veteran, loves to barbecue and dreams of opening a restaurant some day. But that’s just one of his dreams and goals. The other goal is to work his way up to general manager of an EquipmentShare branch.

When he joined the USAF in 2007, Kirk worked as an Egress Systems Craftsman on fighter jets. He learned the ins and outs of aircraft and how to fix them when they are broken. During his 15 years in the military, he traveled to Alaska, Virginia, Vermont, Guam, Nevada, New Mexico, South Korea and three deployments overseas.

Kirk Pearson

In May 2022, Kirk began his 12-week SkillBridge rotation in Abilene, Texas, trying out positions like service manager, shop technician, parts management and front office work. He’s now working at EquipmentShare full-time as a rental coordinator.

“The military prepared me for a lot and taught me several skills,” Kirk said. “The ones that have helped me the most in both military and civilian life are attention to detail and staying calm under pressure in a fast-paced environment, like an EquipmentShare rental location.”

Travis Hoffman

Category sourcing manager: Kansas City

Travis Hoffman knew the military was his calling from an early age. He had two uncles who served in World War II and a father who served in the Air Force. Travis knew he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps, but fate had other plans for him.

“The Air Force told me I couldn’t be a pilot like my dad because I was colorblind,” Travis said. “So being a young, brash 18-year-old, I joined the Army instead. If I couldn’t fly planes, I could jump out of them.”

Travis joined the Army in 1993 right out of high school and became a military police officer for his first three years. He applied for and was awarded a “Green to Gold” Army scholarship. He went to the University of Cincinnati and joined the Army ROTC program. In 1998, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and became a quartermaster officer, essentially in charge of supply chain and logistics management. And, yes, he also served as a paratrooper and jumped out of planes – more than 22 times.

Travis retired as a lieutenant colonel in 2022. He served nine years in Germany, three years in South Korea, two years in Iraq and had several duty stations in the United States. Travis has set foot in more than 36 countries and worked alongside numerous allied and partner nation service members.

Robert Travis Hoffman

“I love traveling, and I was happy to let Uncle Sam pay for that,” Travis said.

In February 2022, Travis began the process of retiring and went to a veteran job fair in Kansas City. He met EquipmentShare military recruiter Tyler Reyes and agreed to give EquipmentShare a try.

“The core values of EquipmentShare are similar to the Army values,” Travis said. “Those values are essential to me as an individual.”

After trying out roles in fleet, learning and development and T3, and spending some time in two Texas branches learning about industrial tooling, Travis was hired as a category sourcing manager. In this role, he is tasked with looking at where money is spent, how we can save money as a company and reviewing vendor agreements.

Travis is settling in at EquipmentShare and has some advice for others transitioning into civilian life:

“Start early, start planning your transition at least two years before you want to leave,” Travis said. “Work on a solid résumé and establish a LinkedIn page. Most of us in the military don’t have résumés, so transitioning service members need to get started immediately. Don’t be afraid to look outside of your comfort zone. When you’re starting a new job in a new industry, give it a chance. EquipmentShare will give you on-the-job training and let you learn and grow.”

Frederick Griffith 

Parts manager: Stafford, Virginia

Frederick Griffith joined the Marine Corps in 2001, and after 20 years of service, is finally ready to retire and re-enter the civilian world. The husband and father of four is ready to set down roots and found out about EquipmentShare’s SkillBridge internship during his transition classes.

Frederick spent years working as an aviation ordnance technician and doing inventory and maintenance to aircraft, along with procurement and inventory of parts, which prepared him to jump into several roles at EquipmentShare. Frederick is excited to take on the role of parts manager in Stafford, Virginia. 

“In early 2022, I went to transition class for retirement. SkillBridge was discussed and I started looking around in Virginia,” Frederick said. “EquipmentShare popped up as a location and it was very interesting to me. I came and talked to the general manager and it felt like somewhere I wanted to be.”

Frederick Griffith

Frederick has been able to try a few roles including shop technician, yard technician and parts management — this is where he’s found his interests lie, and where he will be working full-time. Similar to his job in the Marine Corps, Frederick has been researching publications, sourcing hard-to-find items and building a parts department at the branch.

The Stafford location is home to several veterans, and Frederick has found a similar camaraderie to the military at his new branch.

“I like being around other veterans, and I like the company’s commitment to veterans,” Frederick said. “Finding a job after the military is difficult, and coming here and getting to work with other veterans with shared experiences has been nice.”

EquipmentShare remains committed to hiring veterans across the country as our workforce expands rapidly at more than 140 locations. For more information about finding your second calling with EquipmentShare or to find out more about our SkillBridge program, visit equipmentshare.com/careers/hiring-veterans. 

minimal arrow pointing right.

TAGS: