Jeanette Eason works in Wealth Management Client Services at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Jacksonville, Florida. Coming from a long and varied career in the Air Force in public health, she was looking for a position where her skills could translate from military to civilian life. Once she was hired at Bank of America, her manager and a representative from the bank’s Military Support and Assistance Group (MSAG) worked closely with her to let her know what resources were available to her and what it would take to succeed. We sat down with her to hear about her successful transition to a civilian job.
Jeanette, where did you serve?
I was in the Air Force for 20 years; I was a Noncommissioned Officer in Charge of Public Health. My areas of expertise were epidemiology, medical intelligence, STDs, occupational health and foodborne illness. In the Air Force, I developed new public health programs and managed existing ones. As a Public Health Specialist, it was my job to protect our forces from a vast array of disease and illness. I was in charge of food inspection, workplace safety, sanitary standards and controlling communicable diseases. I also ensured our Airmen were educated on safety procedures when utilizing hazardous materials.
What prompted you to leave the military for civilian life?
My husband, who had also retired from the Air Force, and I decided we wanted to provide stability for our kids. We were living in New Mexico at the time, and started looking at different places to live. We decided to move to Jacksonville based on the quality of the school system and potential job opportunities.
How did you get to Bank of America Merrill Lynch?
After I left the military, I went to the Department of Health in Jacksonville, in a civilian job similar to my Air Force post. After that, I worked in Human Resources at the Florida Youth Challenge Academy, helping at-risk youth. While I was there, the program was downsized due to budget cuts. At the time, my stepdaughter was working at Bank of America and she told me about opportunities at the bank. I had been a bank client since I moved here and I liked their philosophy—the professionalism, the disciplined approach and the focus on clients. I applied for a position in the call center for credit cards and was hired.
How does working at the bank compare to being in the military?
In the military, there’s a lot of structure; you’re taught discipline, to be on time, to deal with what you’re asked to do. There is leadership and “followership.” Leadership is about knowing the answers, being reliable, and — once you learn your own job — mentoring other people. Followership is getting a clear idea of what you are asked to do and executing on that. Yet without followers, there is no leader. In the Military you become accustomed to working in both roles and understanding that without each one of these important roles, the mission will fail. Bank of America follows these same ideals as the Military, which makes it easy to transition.
How were you introduced to the bank—how did “onboarding” go?
At Bank of America, if you are coming from the military, there is an extra layer of onboarding. The bank helps link your job to your military experience. My supervisor sat down with me and went over my skills. He/she gave me extra tips on how to excel at the company. He showed me the online tools and ways I could further my education with courses and tuition reimbursement. And, right off the bat, I was sent a lot of information about the bank’s support for the military and was encouraged to join the Jacksonville MSAG chapter. And they connected me with ways I could help out in the community. I felt like this was home.
So have you gotten involved in the community through MSAG?
I work in the community through the Ronald McDonald house, and I help prepare taxes for low-income families through the United Way Real Sense Program. I have also volunteered for The Weaver Foundation, an organization that helps raise funds for at-risk youth.
What about the benefits?
While the military has good benefits, there are still many new benefits that are great to have —dental, 401(k) plan, dependent care, life insurance and an FSA account.
What would you tell people with a military background who are considering coming to the bank?
I tell people the bank is actively recruiting and that it’s an easy transition because of shared values. They try to match you to a job that’s right for you based on your personality and background. I was a public speaker, so working in the Call Center was perfect for me. A tough Marine may not be a good fit for a call center position, but might work out really well in finance, maybe taking Series 7 and becoming a financial advisor.
What help did you get to succeed in your job?
They clearly linked my experience in the military to my new responsibilities. And my supervisor sat with me and we did a review of my skill set. He/she gave me tips on how to excel. I took them to heart. And a year from when I was hired, I was promoted. For details on our military and veteran recruiting efforts, visit http://careers.bankofamerica.com/military/.