Dress for success: Non-profit helps Women Veterans find new jobs
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(VAntage Point)

Transitioning from active duty to the private sector is jarring for many Veterans. As many as 27% of Veterans struggle with adjusting to civilian life according to the Pew Research Center. This can be particularly difficult for female Veterans, but VA and other private sector organizations are stepping up to support these women. One organization, Dress For Success Austin (DFSA), provides a network of professional support, business attire and development tools to help all women thrive in work and life.

DFSA and its affiliates across the country have three programs for any woman who would like career development assistance:

  1. Suiting – work with women to choose an interview outfit and provide guidance and support for the upcoming interview.
  2. Career Advancement – support and assist women in identifying and striving towards their professional and personal goals. Includes mapping out the future through financial planning.
  3. Leadership Training – teach women to advance their careers and give back to their communities.

One former Veteran, Jessica Kirkham, recently landed a job at TikTok using Dress for Success resources, a career change after working for a combined five years as a cryptologic linguist in the Navy and for the NSA.

Woman "dressing for success"

“I was led to DFSA while attending a Veteran Transition seminar hosted by the Texas Veterans Commission,” Kirkham said. “I was looking for guidance on translating my military experience into something civilian recruiters and hiring managers would understand, and DFSA’s Bridge the Gap for Women Veterans program helped me do exactly that. They also set me up with my mentor, Summer McAfee, and she helped steer me in the right direction with numerous phone calls and Zoom sessions, through which we polished and perfected my resume and interviewing skills.

“With support from organizations like Dress for Success, people of all ages and stages can build the confidence and soft skills they need to land their dream job,” she added. “Veterans bring strong leadership skills, discipline and other critical competencies to companies in the private sector. Dress for Success Austin and BreakLine (a nonprofit in San Francisco) helped build my confidence and readiness to bring my authentic self to the private sector, specifically to TikTok.”

If you or someone you know is interested or would benefit from working with DFSA or any of its affiliates, you can find their contact information at: https://austin.dressforsuccess.org/contact/.

DFSA exclusively supports women, but there are other organizations like Career Gear that provide similar services for men actively seeking employment. They can be contacted at: info@careergear.org.

To see more information like this, subscribe to VetResources, visit: https://www.va.gov/vetresources/.

Social Media:
Dress for Success Austin
  • Facebook: @DFSAustin
  • Instagram: @dressforsuccessATX
  • Twitter: @DFSAustinTX
  • YouTube
Dress for Success Worldwide:
  • Facebook: @DressForSuccess
  • Twitter: @dressforsuccess
  • Instagram: @dressforsuccess
  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn: @dress-for-success-worldwide

The sharing of any non-VA information does not constitute an endorsement of products and services on the part of VA.

Ian Lacy is a communications specialist in VA’s Veterans Experience Office.