SkillBridge: A Hiring Manager’s Perspective

Cognosante is committed to supporting the Veteran community with its career search and transition to the civilian workforce. When Veterans join the Cognosante team, they continue to serve their country in meaningful and important positions‚ÄĒhelping improve the health, safety, and security of citizens each day.  

Through our partnership with the Department of Defense (DoD) SkillBridge program, service members in the last 180 days of their military careers are connected to industry partners like Cognosante for training, internships, and other opportunities to gain civilian work experience.  

We talked with Paul Graf, Senior Program Director of Cognosante‚Äôs VA portfolio, hiring manager, and a Veteran himself, to hear his perspective on bringing SkillBridge talent into Cognosante. Paul knows how hiring managers play a crucial role in the success of our SkillBridge partnership, and what ensures transitioning service members thrive at Cognosante.  

Tell us about your military background and your role here at Cognosante. 

I served in the Marine Corps for 20 years in the aviation maintenance field; also did some recruiting, and then retired in 2006.  After joining Cognosante as a Senior Program Manager in 2017, I currently serve as a Senior Program Director for customers in our VA portfolio. 

Headshot of Paul Graf
Paul Graf, Senior Program Director, Cognosante’s VA portfolio, hiring manager, and a Veteran

What role do hiring managers play in giving SkillBridge fellows a positive experience? 

We are fortunate to have an outstanding pipeline of SkillBridge Fellows. As hiring managers, we recognize that SkillBridge Fellows have had distinguished careers, and possess a valuable and unique set of skills. Many of us are Veterans ourselves and have experienced this transition to civilian work. We act as coaches, design experiences that leverage each Fellow‚Äôs specific skills, and match those with opportunities across the enterprise. We empower Fellows to work across business units, so they can experience the requirements, solutions, team dynamics, and customer/partner engagements that are unique to each one. It also includes connecting them to our Veteran employee resource group called ConVERG, and all the mentoring and networking opportunities it provides.  

How does a SkillBridge fellowship at Cognosante build upon a service member‚Äôs skills and experiences? 

Each SkillBridge Fellowship is unique, customized to each participant‚Äôs individual skillset. A former intelligence analyst might support business analytics needs, while a Fellow with a training background might support learning and development initiatives. In any role, Fellows can apply the skills gained through military service–whether leadership, program/project management, healthcare domain expertise, military knowledge, IT service management, and/or government acquisitions–to a variety of projects across the company.  

What career guidance would you give transitioning service members, or Veterans seeking civilian work?  

Cognosante’s SkillBridge Fellows automatically receive support through ConVERG, and mentoring support through technology mentor platform, Veterati. For service members who are not part of SkillBridge, assistance is also available.  Prepare well in advance of End of Active Service. Search for Veteran mentorship programs like LinkedIn’s Veteran Mentor Network, join Veteran groups, and network, network, network. And last, but not least, look into SkillBridge!  

Learn more about our commitment Veterans, and their transition to the civilian workforce through SkillBridge.

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