Unemployment is clearly on the decline for post-9/11 veterans, in particular, where numbers dipped to 4.6 percent in October from 7.2 percent a year earlier, its lowest level since researchers began tracking that particular group in September 2008.
Serving in the navy as a petty officer from 2003–2007, Kim Alonzo is part of this newest generation of veterans lucky enough to transition into the workforce. After graduating from Fordham University with no employment prospects in sight, Alonzo met up with a group of fellow Fordham alumni on Veterans Day. At the meetup, she encountered a fellow vet who was working at Drexel Hamilton, a brokerage firm strongly committed to helping veterans transition to a new career. He encouraged Alonzo to apply.
Yet as an organizational leadership major, Alonzo had no experience in finance. "I felt like finance was an area that only prior officers could break into," she said. "Coming from a military background, I didn't have the contacts needed for finance. I didn't know where to start."
Alonzo quickly learned she would not be left to flounder.
"The whole firm is the support system," she said, adding, "The entire firm is designed to train the veterans [and] is engaged in the mission. Every need of the veteran is addressed, and every question is answered immediately." In 2013 she started as a part-time employee in operations and quickly rose to an assistant vice president in the company's municipal finance department.
The company, owned and operated by veterans and disabled veterans, currently "maintains a concentration of 40 percent or greater veteran employees and 20 percent or greater disabled veteran employees," according to Drexel's website.
For veterans looking to embark in a finance career but don't have the proper background, Alonzo offers sound advice: "If you really want it, go get it, because it's there for you," said Alonzo. "I wanted it, but I didn't think they were going to give it to me. You have to continue to look for opportunities. We were trained to never give up, so why start now?"