Stories from Operation Connect

Mat Pfeffer, retired USMC Lieutenant Colonel

Mat served over 21 years in the United States Marine Corps retiring with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. During his time with the Marine Corps Mat excelled as a manager where he would oversee thousands of employees and numerous research and development programs. Mat attended Operation Connect to help sharpen his networking skills and begin to make connections in the business community. Just a few short months after attending the program Mat started working full time.

“Operation Connect was great, it certainly stood out from the countless other veteran transition programs I took prior to my USMC retirement. Whenever I share my transition experience (now as a mentor or just a fellow vet), I always reference Operation Connect as one of the most valuable programs. I attended (almost) every monthly social gathering. My mentor also did a great job networking on my behalf in advance of the monthly gatherings and then would introduce me to those new people at the gathering.”

Rich Groves, Master Sergeant USMC

Rich G. served 20 years with the United States Marine Corps finishing his service as a Senior Maintenance Analyst. In that role, Rich led a team of maintenance and supply chain experts that evaluated, validated, and improved maintenance processes throughout the Western United States. Rich heard about Operation Connect through other transition programs like O2O and attended the program. Attending the workshop helped Rich understand how to use networking to articulate how he can solve problems that employers may have. Just a few weeks after attending the program he was contacted by a person within my network about a position, which eventually lead to employment.

“The Operation Connect program taught me how to use networking to align with organizations and articulate how I can solve problems that they have. The instructors did a great job of breaking down the techniques for networking and made the concepts easy to understand, which gave me the confidence to network effectively.”

Major Staci Reidinger, US Marine Corps Retired

Staci served for 24 years with the United States Marine Corps working in Public Relations and Communications. She applied for the Operation Connect Workshop on the recommendation of a San Diego Veterans Coalition Board Member. Operation Connect helped Staci boost her confidence in business situations and better communicate her military experience with private organizations. Less than a month after taking this class, Staci landed her first job interview which eventually led to her job!

“Operation Connect helped me more in one day than many of the other pre-separation seminars offered by the Marine Corps. It was succinct and well-organized, going straight to the key problem areas many of us face as we leave active duty. I also appreciated having nonmilitary instructors who know what hiring managers are looking for in a resume and interview. Outstanding short course for any military member or veteran seeking clarity in how to make themselves more marketable.”

Fernando “Rico” Melendez, United State Marine Corps Major

After 26 years in the United States Marine Corps, Rico M. was ready to begin his transition into the private sector. While in service he mainly worked in the Telecommunications and IP Networks field. Rico heard about Operation Connect through another transition program, VetCTAP. While attending the program he gained superb job exploration advice and networking insight, but the most important thing he learned was that he didn't have to go through the transition process alone. He learned that there was a network of people that were there to support him. Around 3 months after attending the class Rico was able to find a job and is still happily employed there now.

“While transitioning from the military was an exciting time to begin a new chapter after 26-years of service, it was certainly one of the most stressful experiences I have encountered for many reasons. Besides the superb information, advice and experiences they shared with us, I am very thankful to Operation Connect for the environment they created which made me realize that I was not alone in this process and to there were many good people out there on whom I could rely on for support.”

William Southall U.S. Navy, Second-Class Petty Officer

“The workshop was fantastic. Prior to the workshop, I had zero knowledge or awareness of networking to find a job. Afterwards, I became proficient in the ways to network. The workshop itself is a great place to start networking to build those professional relationships and get connected to the right people.

I was very fortunate and still am to this day. Shortly after I completed the workshop, I traveled to India and was out of the country for nine months. The Chamber was very gracious to put the membership on-hold until I returned. When I did, I basically picked up where I left off, and continued to make professional relationships by regularly attending Regional Connect networking events.”

CDR Susan Jay, MSC, USN

“Overall Operation Connect was an excellent experience, the workshop provided great tips on resume writing, interview preparation, and networking. I highly recommend attending this program, the opportunities to network are highly recommended.”

More Testimonials

Victor A. Huerta, USN, LCDR Retired

“I think this program is extremely beneficial as it provides the information and insight that is missing from a typical transition course. It also is an introduction to networking on a business level, an experience that many of us did not previously have. I was able to use the complimentary Chamber membership to meet a lot of business leaders and gain exposure in the business sector.”

Victoria Joseph, Navy Veteran, use to be ABFAN

“Operation Connect was the first workshop or learning experience where I learned the importance of networking and how to do it properly. I really think this workshop should be a part of the program that service members have to go through! This program has the power to inspire a lot of people and the complimentary Chamber membership has a ton of benefits.”

Priscila Saraiva, USMCR, E-4 in Supply Administration MOS

“The networking events helped me gain the confidence I needed and Operation Connect truly helped get things moving for me.

Operation Connect was helpful and gave me the extra encouragement and motivation to get out and network. This would eventually help me build upon valuable skills to effectively communicate with companies and market myself. I attended multiple networking events hosted by the North San Diego Business Chamber and was able to connect with veterans that were already well established and experienced in civilian sector. Eventually I landed a full-time position through a Sony sponsored event hosted by the Chamber for veterans.

Soon after I joined Operation Connect I gained confidence to find a job a few months later and continued to seeks positions in different industries until I went to a chamber sponsored event hosted for veterans and found the position I hold today and feel very proud of.”

Robert Barba USMC/1stSgt

“Operation Connect is a great program that helped me in many ways and provided me with the tools to ease my transition from the military to civilian life.

Attending the Operation Connect workshop I gained so much information that greatly assisted my transition into the private sector. I was able to find employment three months after my separation from the military. The most beneficial part of the membership was the opportunity to network with a wide range of people and build my networking circle.”

Jeffrey Dixon, USMC, Sergeant Major

“Operation Connect was very well done. It was professional, knowledgeable, and focused on the most important part of the military transition: Networking”

Bryant Peters, United States Marine Corps, Sergeant

“The program was truly wonderful and eye opening.

I was pretty early into my transition (12 month from EAS) when I attended. I was still trying to nail down what I wanted to do for work and knew that I needed to help nail down my products (networking, LinkedIn, resume). This is a great program for networking which is exactly how I got my job after my EAS.

There is no such thing as one stop shopping when it comes to transition programs, but OC is GREAT for networking and forcing you to put yourself out there. Yes, transitioning is hard and scary but the military (especially the USMC) teaches you that growth is beyond your comfort zone. You have to get out there, OC will help you with that!”

Chad Kennedy, Southwest Airlines Pilot, Retired US Navy Commander

“The tools I gained during Operation Connect are invaluable. I appreciated the workshop and all that went into. The skills I gained during the workshop helped me get my current dream job.”