There are several major programs that support internships for active duty military members who are preparing to retire or separate from the military. All these programs provide real-world non-military experience to help transitioning service members be better prepared to seek work after the military. Some happen while still on active duty, with military members receive their military pay and benefits while in these approved internship and fellowship programs. Other programs happen after separation from the military.
This post is part of The Comprehensive Military Retirement Checklist. Be sure to read all the other posts that go with the checklist, too!
As with all information on this website, this is not an official source. We gather and distill information so that’s easy to access and understand, but we can’t share every possible variation and exception. Always refer to official sources and verify that information provided applies to your unique situation.
SkillBridge is a Department of Defense-sponsored training and development program that connects service members with employers and gives them hands-on experience while still receiving their military pay and benefits. Transitioning service members may receive up to 180 days permissive TDY to participate in full-time training with an approved industry partner.
Industry partners are located all over the United States and represent a wide range of types of work and fields.
Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program
The Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program is a 12-week program that provides service members with professional training and experience in the civilian workforce. The three Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship cohorts each year receive professional development to prepare them for a smooth transition into meaningful civilian careers. The program includes classroom training plus experiential learning in a wide variety of industries.
Candidates for this program must be on active duty and within 180 days of separation or retirement from military service at the time of the program. They must have either:
- a bachelor’s degree plus have three or more years of leadership experience or equivalent related experience, or
- an associate degree plus have five or more years of leadership experience or equivalent related experience.
The application period for the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship program closes about 60 days prior to the start date of the cohort, so this requires a level of planning ahead.
Army Career Skills Program
The Army offers a similar program called the Career Skills Program. Participants may be put in an Administrative Absence status and the program does not count against their chargeable leave.
Dog Tag Bakery
Located in Washington, DC, Dog Tag Bakery teaches entrepreneurship and business skills while supporting transitioning military members (and spouses) with a sense of community. Plus baked goods!
Find Your Own Internship or Fellowship Program
There’s not as much information available online, but some folks have been successful in creating their own internship program during the last few months of their active duty service. As with all programs, this requires the approval of your command, and the appropriate paperwork to go through all the right offices.
With the approval of your command, these programs can provide a great bridge from your military service to your next employment. You’ll hit military retirement with confidence and skills for the next stage of your life!