Wendi Higgins, MSM '13 By Wendi Higgins, MSM '13 • December 18, 2022

How I Transitioned to a Successful Civilian Career and What I Did

Veterans face many difficulties when transitioning to civilian life. As service members, it is tough to find the same challenges or pride in civilian positions like we had in our military lives and accomplishments. Sometimes, it is hard translate the things we do into civilian terms.

Essentially, we are starting all over again. But it is possible to create a civilian network of colleagues and friends whose knowledge we can draw upon.

American Corporate Partners (ACP) is a nonprofit organization that can help make that transition easier. They offer long-term career development through mentoring, career counseling and networking, and encourage your ability to be as successful in a civilian career as you were in your military position. The yearlong mentoring program pairs you with a mentor in the civilian sector, and is a great opportunity to gain insight on how to pursue your career goals.


My Experience with the American Corporate Partners Mentoring Program

I first heard about ACP on the Thomas Edison State University Alumni LinkedIn page. I was previously unemployed for nearly two years after coming off orders, despite having sent out literally hundreds upon hundreds of resumes. I had finally secured employment in June, but I was grossly under-employed, so I decided to see what the program was about, and if I could be accepted. It was easy to fill out the paperwork and apply to the program.

When they received my application, an individual from the program called me and asked if I had any preferences for a mentor. I explained that as a woman, I would prefer a female mentor because there are different challenges women face as opposed to men, however, I’d be open to anyone that could help me.

I was lucky to be paired with my mentor, Lisa Novick, who is a senior executive in the banking industry. From day one I began learning from her. The confidence and knowledge she exuded brought me back on my feet and in the right frame of mind again. What Lisa did for me is reignite my ability to communicate what I do and how I do it. She helped me reformulate my resume and my way of thinking, which for my circumstances, was the most valuable help she could provide.

I just finished the yearlong program and it was incredible. With a lot of effort and perseverance, I used the skills I learned to facilitate a move to a much better position, in a field I was in militarily. Shortly after I finished the ACP mentoring program, I became a Procurement Specialist 1 at the New Jersey Department of the Treasury, Division of Purchase and Property. Since 2017, I became a Contract Administrator and Supervisor for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. I could not be happier with the work I do for the State of New Jersey, in addition to the upward movement I’ve been fortunate enough to experience.

It is really tough out there for veterans, even with a degree. But with the ACP mentoring program, you isolate what it is you want to do, and your mentor will help get you on your way there. ACP will help you bridge any gaps and make transitioning a little easier. It’s a win-win, and the professionals that volunteer as mentors to us are part of an invaluable experience that I believe all transitioning veterans, if given the opportunity, should take advantage of. Getting started is as easy as visiting the American Corporate Partners website.

At the end of the day, this program requires nothing but ambition. I wish you the best of luck.

Wendi Higgins, MSM '13

Written by Wendi Higgins, MSM '13

Wendi Higgins, MSM '13 earned a master's degree in management from TESU in 2013. She currently works as a contract administrator and supervisor for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Prior to her employment with the State, she volunteered for active duty in the New Jersey Air National Guard in both acquisitions and procurement, and later as an assistant course director for the Air Advisor Academy. She has earned Commendation and Achievement medals for her service.

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