How a simple list helped a combat engineer find a new path

Kaylah Jackson
March 23, 2018 - 2:18 pm

Photo courtesy of Landon Carl

In 2009, Landon Carl graduated from Texas A&M University and comissioned as a 2nd LT. in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. After five years of active service with assignments to Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo. and Afghanistan, he made the decision to leave the Army.  

"My whole career in the Army was that (combat engineering). Now, when I was in the Army, I really started to think about transitioning: 'Am I going to get out?' 'Am I not?' 'Am I gonna continue to command?' 'Am I going to retire?' All those questions that we ask ourselves, those thoughts and ideas culminated when I was on deployment in Afghanistan."

Photo courtesy of Landon Carl

During his time overseas, making lists, mainly a pros and cons list, helped Carl navigate what he was going to do with his post-military career.

"When we ran a very kinetic mission with little to no loss, then I'd write that down in my pro column...you know we worked so hard to planned this, and look at the results--this is why I do the job, this is why I love this job, this is why I wanna do this forever," said Carl.

But as with comparison, there are also negatives. His list, which he still has, also helped him weigh out the experiences on the opposite end of the spectrum

"On the flip side, when we had an unsuccesful mission, when we have a significant loss or just being away from my family, I'd write those things down in a column. Then myself, my wife and my family could objectively decide what we were gonna do and why," said Carl.

Carl explained that creating a list helped him to logically plan and when coupled with faith and prayer, his decision to leave the military became clear.

"For us, we said 'no' and then after that, full-force, 'what's my next career?'" said Carl. 

Once he made a decision to leave, he began going through the Army's Soldier for Life — Transition Assistance Program (SFL-TAP) class, but was still unsure about his next step.

Photo courtesy of Landon Carl

Carl had never heard of American Corporate Partners (ACP) before going through the transition class but the mentorship oppurtunity, the ability to connect with a company and receive guidance by an industry profressinonal for a year, all for free, peaked his interest.

With ACP, he first completed a career assessment questionnaire to help gauge potential avenues and network, but his mentor also encouraged him to broaden his scope outside of what he was already familiar and comfortable with.

For advice to give to other veterans, Carl recommends starting a pros and cons list of your own. Also, take up professional reading, to stay updated the news and lingo for the industry you're interested in.

Today, he works for SKF, a bearing and seal manufacturing company, as the key account manager. When asked about the biggest crossover from the military to his civilian career, he says without a doubt it's the ability to handle stress. 

"I can't say today that I'm responsible for anyone's life at my company, but when I have a situtaion that's really gone poorly or seen as gone poorly, it pales in compariosn to the stress levels and responsibilites of peoples' lives that in had in the military."

And it's not only handling stress Carl says is a strength veterans have. He also says veterans don't realize how much they've been responsible for, the leadership capabilites they have and the ability to follow, all which are valuable assests in the civlian world.

ACP mentors service members with industry professionals. Currently serving, recently separated veterans and surviving spouses of post-9/11 veterans are eligbile to apply. For more information about ACP and to start an application for their mentorship program, click here.