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Shape Your Operating Environment


Shape Your Operating Environment

To shape an environment, it is imperative you engage those who are already comfortable and successful there. Before you transition, you must network with others to achieve your goals.

Build, Then Leverage Your Network


Networking is vital to defining your soon-to-be new operating environment – creating intelligence about companies and targeted career field(s). Also, it is a way to build long-term relationships and establish a good reputation. It involves meeting and getting to know people whom you can assist, and who can potentially help you in return.

Picture of woman

I think if I could go back, I would have definitely tried to find a mentor.”

Shannon Vivar
Director of Risk Optimization

Networking is asking someone you trust to help you; networking works best when you proactively help someone first. (Never leave a fallen comrade.)

Networking also helps create opportunities. It may not be what gets you the job, but it will certainly move you one step closer.

Here are 10 tips to build a network concentrated on your targeted career field(s):

  1. Ask former military colleagues or those whom you are debriefing for an introduction. Be precise. Be selective. Ask someone you trust to connect you to people in your targeted career field(s) and companies.

  2. Join professional or trade organizations associated with your targeted career field(s). Attend events and meet professionals with a similar career focus to learn more about companies and their culture, and to open more doors.

  3. Actively participate on social media. Remember, your posts can be seen by the world forever. So, be informative and highlight your intelligence and initiative, but be neutral and non-controversial. Ask to
    connect with and/or follow relevant individuals to expand your network and join relevant companies/groups to learn about their initiatives, culture and opportunities.

  4. Volunteer for an organization. While doing work for a good cause, you will find people with similar interests.

  5. Be transparent and authentic, but remember you are building trust. Be open and clear about goals and aspirations, but don’t dwell on frustrations and challenges. You are initiating new relationships; there is some risk here.

  6. Willingly share your resume. Leaving a copy of your resume with a new connection may lead to an introduction to someone else. Always have one.

  7. Always follow up. Immediately provide anything promised (your resume, contacts, event dates, etc.), and always send personal thank-you notes.

  8. Stay in contact. Don’t connect with anyone without having a purpose. Keep a running dialogue with those you meet; keep them informed of your progress.

  9. Don’t just collect business cards; share yours with everyone. Don’t take a card from everyone you meet, just from those whom you trust will help you. Do be sure to offer your business card though – it may make its way to your future boss.

  10. Be a resource for others. Reciprocate with something of value. Find ways to help your new contacts. Also, remember your Warrior Ethos and share what you’ve learned with others battling through their transition.

Networking will help you learn more about your targeted career field(s). It may open doors and introduce you to job opportunities you would not have otherwise discovered. It may also open your eyes to the significance of company culture. More importantly, when you first help others, they assistance you receive in return will be more effective.  

Networking will introduce you to people whom you can trust and with whom you can have candid discussions. All this will lead you to meaningful, lifetime relationships.

Aggressively Conduct Informational Interviews


Informational interviews are an excellent way to strengthen your network, learn more about your targeted career-field(s) and the career-specific language. Informational interviews can also improve your resume writing and performance in job interviews. Not only that, but they may also lead you directly to the job of your dreams.koch-industries-event-writing.jpg


In combat, patrol debriefings help develop a comprehensive “picture” of the operating environment that will enhance future operations and enable victory.

You are probably lacking knowledge of your future career operating environment. Like combat patrols, informational interviews can help you fill in the knowledge gaps. After learning as much as you can about your targeted career field(s) or potential companies, you will be able to refine your transition battle plan.


  • Learn about your future operating environment from professionals who have relevant experience.

  • Learn about required credentials in your targeted career field(s).

  • Discover information about a specific company and its culture and values.

  • Better understand how your military experiences are suited to your targeted career field(s).

  • Appreciate the language, terms and references that are essential to your targeted career field(s).


Be selective about who you interview. If they are to contribute to your understanding of your future operating environment, they should have:

  • experience in your targeted career field(s).

  • currently work, or previously worked, in the company that interests you.

  • or both, preferably.

Everyone loves to talk about themselves. So, ask your subject if they could explain how they became so successful in their career; they’ll jump at the chance to hear themselves talk. But, if you ask them to help you find a job, they will most likely point you towards the recruiting office or their careers page – not much help there.


Here are eight steps to conduct useful informational interviews with professionals who have experience in your targeted career field(s) so you can learn about your future operating environment:

Research the individual you are meeting. Use LinkedIn, Facebook, Google, their colleagues or
contacts, or their company website. Make sure they have experience in your targeted career field(s).
Have a plan and purpose for each question. This is not a job interview – it’s about seeking information. You must identify what you’d like to learn in advance.
Succinctly share your story and purpose. At the beginning, very briefly introduce yourself and explain your purpose. Carry a resume just in case.
Show some respect (stroke their ego). People love to talk about themselves. Ask them how or why
they were so successful, or comment on a specific accomplishment of theirs to provoke them to share more.
Don’t ask for a job; ask for professional advice. If you want a job, speak to HR. You are on a mission to learn about the career operating environment.
Get them to name names. Ask if there are others who you should debrief. Then ask them to
introduce you.
Ask for referrals. Although it is not the purpose of the debriefing, any referral from a respected professional will benefit your underlying effort.
Follow up with a “thank you” message. Always send a personal thank you note and keep the debriefer informed of your progress.


From conducting informational interviews, you will:

  • Learn career-specific language, which better prepares you for resume writing and more effective job interviews.
  • Identify the correct entry level into your targeted career field(s).
  • Enhance your network.
  • Possibly obtain the job of your dreams.


  • How did you start out in this career? Is there something you wish you had done differently?

  • Is there something you wish you’d known or a skill you wish you had starting out in this career?

  • Tell me about the career path that led you to your job. [Apply some information from your previous research to make this a specific question, e.g. "I understand you started as a technician in Dallas, so how did you end up working in production in Phoenix?"]

  • What experiences best prepared you for your career field choice?

  • In this career field, what is a typical initial job?

  • Is there a typical path in this career field?

  • Is it common for those in this career field to follow that path in the same company?

  • What type of education, degree or certification will best prepare someone for this field?

  • What type of professional organizations associated with this career field would you recommend joining?

  • What type of conferences or networking events would you recommend participating in to stay current with developments or best practices in this career field?

  • What do you think your career field will look like in the future?

  • What’s your biggest challenge in your current role?

  • Who depends on you and your performance?

  • Whom do you depend on?

  • What do you like most about your job?

  • What’s the most challenging part of your job?

  • What kind of problems do you face on a day-to-day basis?

  • Tell me what happens in various divisions of your agency, like the [client side], the [finance side], the [media buying side], the [contract side].

  • Where do you see your career going from here?

  • What’s the culture like at [this company] compared to [prior company]?

  • What’s it like to work for this company?

  • What do you dislike about this company?

  • What are some of the long-term trends in your business?

  • Where do you see this industry going?

  • Who else would you recommend I talk to [mention who else you’ve talked to in the field]?

Study Company Culture And Opportunities


In combat, there is access to lots of information and raw data about your operating environment and the enemy. But, to be precise in your action and to enable timely decisions, you need actionable intelligence, or refined, up-to-date intelligence. Actionable intelligence will enable you to be decisive and exploit advanced knowledge to your direct benefit.

To develop actionable intelligence, you must drive intelligence collection based on your objective. Here is how you can create actionable intelligence in your military-to-civilian transition:

1. Frequently review your “Top 10” needs and always remain focused on them.

2. Research a company’s culture. Know what you want. Look for a company with a culture that matches your own personality and aligns with your “Top 10” needs.

  • Use the web to research the company’s publicly stated values, goals and attitudes.

  • Access websites where employees comment on their company’s culture (e.g. Glassdoor).

  • Interact with company employees, personally or on social media.

  • Ask current contacts for insights on company culture.

  • Create informational interview opportunities with employees, customers, suppliers and partners.

  • Visit the workplace to assess the environment, surroundings and employee attitudes.

  • Ask specific questions during the interview process.

3. Research the company in other areas associated with your Top 10. This could be:

  • Company culture

  • Existing career fields

  • Business operations

  • Leadership and company philosophy

  • Growth and advancement opportunities

  • Funded educational opportunities

  • Employee benefits

  • Insurance programs

  • News reports about the company

Guided by your "Top 10," you can drive your transition intelligence collection by asking purposeful questions during informational


Search For Roles At Koch


Once you’ve properly targeted your career field(s), it’s time to search for available roles.

Koch’s veterans career website is a great place to start searching for available roles! Follow these simple steps:

  1. Visit KochCareers.com/veterans.

  2. Click Career Fields in the navigation bar to explore our careers, then select your targeted career field(s). There are nearly 25 options. Check out the availble job openings.

  3. In the Search Jobs section, you can refine a search using one, some or all the following options:

    • Keyword search Keywords are found in the title and body of the job description.

    • Location search Be aware that not every city or state has the same roles or requirements.

    • Job ID Number – Will lead you to a single job description and link to apply.

    • Companies Narrow your search to a specific Koch company.

  4. Consider getting email notifications on any job opportunity that matches your interests:


  • Search for job on our Koch veteran career center

  • Click Send me job alerts for this search!

  • Enter your Email address

  • Enter the Name of the Job Notification

  • Select the email Frequency

  • Click Create

*You will automatically receive texts and emails announcing newly opened roles that match your selected role and interests.

Whether you are actively or passively seeking a job with Koch Industries, consider joining our talent pool by uploading basic information along with a resume. That way, you will be the first one notified about new job openings that match your interest in your targeted career field(s).


  • Click Join Our Talent Network

  • Click I accept regarding Privacy Agreement

  • Enter your Personal Information

  • Click YES to receive text message updates

  • Click YES to receive email messages

  • Upload your resume

  • Click on career Areas of Intrest [your targeted career field(s)]

  • Click Submit

If you need help determining which career path suits your skills and experiences, see our self-evaluation page.