Career Development Through Career Transition Coaching

A qualitative study of military veterans and student coaches


  • Tracy Porter Cleveland State University
  • Cheryl Rathert
  • Diane Lawong


The career transition process can be challenging for any individual pursuing a new career. Military veterans seeking to transition into civilian employment possess valuable skills, yet often face challenges in their job searches. Though veterans are legally protected in the U.S., stereotypes about them persist and influence the hiring process. Future human resource managers, (e.g. college students) will be key to veteran hiring and they will need to appropriately assess applicant qualifications in an unbiased manner. This paper demonstrates the results of a career development program in which 112 students provided monthly job search assistance to 242 military veterans preparing to be discharged from a large VA domiciliary. Twenty-five students and 19 veterans were interviewed at the conclusion of the project. Results demonstrated the importance of context specific HR skills and coaching in applied settings, and the impact of such experiences on personal growth, and how career development programs might be used to reduce stereotypes. This is the first study to apply social identity theory as a theoretical lens to understand how career transition experiences might assist individuals looking to transition into a new career. It is also the first to examine how professional identity might apply to military veterans.