When Captain Marshall Carter returned home after two tours in Vietnam, over 80 companies rejected him before he settled for a job on Wall Street.
Nearly forty years later, the Deputy Chairman of the New York Stock Exchange Euronext confesses, “I was never interested in finance. Chase Manhattan was the only company that offered me a job. I had a wife and two kids and needed to put food on the table.” Mr. Carter recalls that Wall Street was a place where “few veterans worked” and even fewer identified themselves as such.
Now he’s helping to change that.
Although there are no shortages of veteran hiring initiatives on Wall Street, very few banks have hiring programs specifically for combat veterans. Despite all the hype, vets still have to apply online like everyone else and compete against other civilian job seekers, who typically have more relevant industry experience than they do.
Edward Harrison, an Iraq war veteran and an International Business major at Baruch College, is “frustrated” with how dismissive many of the self-identified veteran-friendly companies have been with his job inquiries. After recently attending the Hire Our Heroes career fair on the U.S.S. Intrepid, Edward felt that although most employers were “genuinely interested in helping veterans” others were less so, directing him to apply online and providing “little or no information different from what is available on their website.” He also noted “many of the tables did not have any information about internships either.”
One of the problems facing veterans is that they are entering the job market for the first time at 28 or 29 years old with solid leadership and management experience, which makes them “too experienced” for entry-level roles. But at the same time, they lack the specific industry experience and technical competencies to qualify for mid-level positions.
Recognizing this unique situation, NYSE Euronext is launching an internship program exclusively for veterans. The Veteran’s Associate Program (VAP) will “provide meaningful, professional assignments to veterans” so that they may “learn about NYSE Euronext and its business through hands-on work assignments.” The eight-week program will also include a comprehensive educational component as well as access to senior executives at the Exchange. Marshall Carter himself serves as the program’s Executive Advisor.
Lisa Dzintars-Pahwul, Managing Director of Human Resources at NYSE Euronext and head of the Veteran Associate Program says, “The VAP is separate from the NYSE Euronext Summer Intern Program because veterans bring a set of skills, life experiences and circumstances to a program such as this that are quite different from our interns.”
Jesse Friszell, an Iraq war veteran and Columbia University student, thinks this program is exactly what veterans need, “This is a pretty amazing thing because it provides a backdoor for returning veterans into a world that seems completely divorced from the military.”
Also making the VAP unique is the integration of the NYSE Euronext Veteran Employee Resource Group (ERG) in support of the program. The Veteran ERG is one of eight ERG’s sponsored by the NYSE Euronext Diversity Council and has about forty members, comprised of both combat veterans and non-military employees who support active-duty personnel.
Since its inception six months ago, the Veteran ERG has shipped care packages overseas, made generous donations to the Long Island Cares Veterans Program and will be supporting homeless female veterans at the Samaritan Village Woman’s Facility this spring. In support of the VAP, the Veteran ERG will be participating in the hiring process, serving as sponsors to the Veteran Associates, and contributing to the educational components of the program as well.
Upon hearing about the Veteran’s Associate Program, Mr. Harrison said, “This is a great model for other companies that are seeking to hire veterans. Hopefully more will follow suit and establish similar programs.”
Even after hanging up their uniforms, veterans are continuing to look after one-another. Previous combat veterans are beginning to take matters into their own hands to help solve the many issues facing today’s returning heroes. Forty years after coming home from Vietnam, Marshall Carter carries on the Corps’ sacred motto “Semper Fidelis” and continues to take care of his Marines.
Mike Abrams is a former Marine Corps captain and Afghanistan veteran. He recently graduated from New York University and is currently interning with CNBC.