Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce and Camp Pendleton launch Boots in Business: Program provides job shadowing, mentoring for local veterans

The Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce, in collaboration with Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, has launched Boots in Business, a Military Mentoring Initiative. The program helps veterans and their spouses prepare for civilian employment through job-shadowing and mentoring opportunities.

Boots in Business enlists North San Diego County companies to help Camp Pendleton-based service members who are about to be discharged and their spouses define their career paths and better understand the education or training they would need to pursue the careers they want.

According to Ted Owen, president and CEO of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce, the idea is to help the veterans make smart career decisions and wisely utilize the money they receive for education at the end of their military service.

Owen explained that participating companies provide only their time and their industry expertise to the program, allowing participating veterans to experience a variety of jobs within their companies and witness the day-to-day tasks of each position.

“This will help them see whether a job they are interested is a good fit for them before they proceed with training and education programs,” he said.

In addition, he noted, companies review the participants’ resumes to help them translate their military skills into language that is easily understood in the civilian workforce to better present themselves to prospective employers and become more competitive.

Owen emphasized that veterans have tremendous potential in the civilian workplace due to their leadership training, mission accomplishment orientation and work ethic.

“Our hope is to familiarize participating businesses with these attributes,” he said. “This is a wonderful opportunity for all participants to learn from each other.”

Owen emphasized that the current unemployment rate for recently discharged male military personnel between the ages of 18 to 24 is approximately 27 percent. At Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, more than 8,000 military personnel leave active duty each year, entering a job pool that continues to struggle with the economic downturn.

“Boots in Business prepares our new and honored veterans to test drive civilian employment,” said Owen. “We’re seeking area companies to join us in this mission to accommodate as many personnel as possible who are preparing to leave military service.”

Companies wishing to participate will be briefed on the qualifications of each candidate.  Owen noted that often, newly discharged military personnel and their spouses are simply looking for help on resumes, interviewing techniques, appropriate dress and a basic understanding of the work expected of them as they shadow civilian employees.

Marine Corps Base Commander for Camp Pendleton, Col. Nicolas Marano, stated that military members and their spouses must be qualified for a civilian mentoring match to take place.

“We’re looking for individuals who have a strong desire to learn the ropes, express a positive attitude about the opportunity, and are flexible enough to handle the variety of job-related situations. We really want this to be a positive learning experience for all parties,” Marano said.

“There are no costs involved for either the participating veteran or participating company,” Owens concluded. “Rather this is an opportunity for both military personnel and civilian employers to learn from each other in an environment of positive engagement. In the end, should the applicant and company find a mutual need, we certainly encourage that relationship.”

Companies interested in becoming a mentor may obtain information by contacting Boots in Business Program Manager Madonna May at 760-931-8400 or