The 2018 McKinstry Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program cohort. From left to right: Jeff Inman, John Rushton, Aaliyah Al-Mahdi, Kate Fleming and Brian Peguillan.

For those who served

July 10, 2018
Training, Training Opportunities

When most people celebrated the 4th of July this month with family and friends, it may have been easy to overlook the sacrifices made for this country so that we can enjoy our freedoms. Remembering those that made the ultimate sacrifice, and those who have served, is, well, part of being an American. As a matter of fact, PHCC-National President, Laurie Crigler, fresh from the assocation’s Legislative Conference at pre-Memorial Day festivities, said, “Seeing D.C. all decked out in red, white and blue gave us pause to think about the true meaning of Memorial Day—to honor those who have fought for us to keep our freedoms so that we can, in fact, come to tell our legislators what is important in our industry and how what they do affects our daily lives.”

‘We’re all in on the program and have had tremendous success with each of our cohorts.’

Moreover, national programs, non-profit organizations, etc. are instrumental in helping our veterans here at home. For example, last month, during the Eastern Energy Expo, Taco Comfort Solutions donated more than $32,000 to the Folds of Honor Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides scholarships to children and spouses of disabled veterans or those killed in action. To date, the charity has raised over $100 million and provided nearly 16,000 scholarships. 

Then there are programs that focus efforts to help veterans assimilate back into the workforce. Earlier this year CONTRACTOR featured the Transition to Trades program, an exchange program of sorts with Fort Campbell Army base, which seeks to “enlist” outgoing service personnel into the trades—a vehicle to allow service men and women to assimilate back into the workforce, and take care of their families.

 Hiring Our Heroes

Similarly, Seattle-headquartered mechanical contractor McKinstry welcomed its first Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program cohort in 2016. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes initiative launched in March 2011 as a nationwide initiative to assist military veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses in finding meaningful employment opportunities in a 21st century workforce. A nonprofit organization, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program is funded by the generous support of its partners.

Launched in 2015, the Corporate Fellowship Program provides transitioning service members and military spouses with professional training and hands-on experience in the civilian workforce. The professional development offered through the program prepares candidates for a smooth transition into meaningful civilian careers. Participating corporations benefit by gaining access to the best and brightest transitioning service members, while also developing a more comprehensive understanding of the veteran job market.

Interested service members can apply for the Corporate Fellowship Program online at and connect with their local military installation to seek approval. From there, they are screened and hand-picked to participate with one of the many company partners.

“Service members are selected for the roles that are commensurate with their education and experience. For most companies, they find that the fellows have significant experience and knowledge, but may require some training to fill in certain skills gaps that are particular to a process or procedure that company or industry,” said Rob Comer, manager and lead national trainer, Hiring Our Heroes' Corporate Fellowship Program. The Hiring Our Heroes program has a goal to serve 1,000 service members, veterans, and military spouses each year.

McKinstry has been impressed by the diversity of experiences and backgrounds included in the program, which provides tremendous value in integrating that experience within McKinstry’s workforce. Ron Johnson, McKinstry’s COO, and Ryan Hough, McKinstry’s Director of Operational Excellence, drive the program internally, along with Alli Burton, McKinstry’s Director of Talent Acquisition.

“Hiring Our Heroes fellows come into the program highly trained. That allows us to focus on industry and job-specific training. It’s the same training that we offer all new employees just starting in our industry. But, the fellows pick it up amazingly fast. Their ability to think strategically and quickly on their feet sets them apart and has helped many of them get promoted quickly at McKinstry,” said Burton.

According to Johnson, a military veteran, “Each Hiring Our Heroes cohort has been a phenomenal asset for McKinstry. Transitioning military veterans learn fast, are calm under pressure and understand how McKinstry’s mission and values drive us to deliver more for our clients. Our success rate for hiring fellows demonstrates just how great of a talent source Hiring Our Heroes is for McKinstry. The military is very good at training leaders. McKinstry has found that Hiring Our Heroes fellows can seamlessly plug into our open positions and deliver value from day one.”

Hough, another military veteran, received tremendous support when transitioning out of the Marine Corps, but nothing like what is offered in the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program. “The deeper McKinstry dives into the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program, the more we understand how much value it delivers to McKinstry. We’re all in on the program and have had tremendous success with each of our cohorts. We’re definitely a proud corporate sponsor,” said Hough.

The Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program last 12 weeks, including one week in class followed by 11 weeks with the company. The program runs three cohorts per year. McKinstry takes three-to-five fellows per cohort. McKinstry has hosted 19 fellows to date. Fourteen have been hired into full-time positions and five are currently participating as this year’s cohort. The hope is to see those five fellows come on board when the program concludes this summer

“It’s important to note that the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program also supports military spouses. That’s particularly wonderful since family have likely moved numerous times during their years of services, making it hard for spouses to gain tenure and move up within organizations. Often, the spouse’s multiple roles can be seen as ‘job hopping’ and looked upon as a negative when they apply for new opportunities in new locations,” says Burton.

Since inception in 2015, the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program has served more than 1,000 fellows across the nation.

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