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Columbia University

Find Your Calling: Career Transition Principles for Returning Veterans

Columbia University via edX


This course is a collaboration between FourBlock and Columbia University, powered by T-Mobile.

The course will focus on the development of interpersonal, intrapersonal, and intellectual character strengths as they relate to making a successful career transition from military service to the civilian workforce. The course content is grounded in research, delivered by experts in their given fields, and is meant to provide you with a framework for an iterative process of self-reflection and the development of practical skills that enables you to make career choices that better align with your values, ambitions, and continued service. Ultimately, this course helps you answer the question: What should I do next?

The skills you learned in the military will go a long way toward helping you succeed in the civilian workforce, but if you’re looking for some extra guidance in figuring out what to do next for a career – and ultimately a new way to serve – then you’ll find it in this course.

The culture of corporate America is different from the culture of the military, and we also know that one of the keys to integrating back home and excelling in the civilian workforce - especially for veterans - is learning to navigate these differences successfully, right from the very start.

This course aims to help you do just that. First, the course will provide you with examples of the character strengths, or behaviors, that you need to exhibit in order to find new ways to continue to serve your community, find strength in your transition, and focus your time and efforts on opportunities that are most meaningful to you.

Second, the course will offer you practical strategies to ease your transition, to help you make better decisions for you and your family, and ultimately help you achieve your career goals and reach your potential.

While this course is open to everyone, the content has been tailored for veterans, active duty service members who plan to transition into civilian employment, and professionals who work to support veterans as they transition. If this sounds like you, and if you’re ready to learn how to make your transition easier and more successful, then we hope you’ll join us.

We welcome the opportunity to assist colleges, career transition programs, non-profit organizations, and more, in utilizing this online curriculum to supplement your established programs. To get underway, contact us at FourBlock or Columbia University Center for Veteran Transition and Integration.


The most important thing that we have learned working with veterans in transition is that if you do not think critically about who you are as a person, what you value, what your ambitions are, and discuss these things with your tribe, you will not be able to perform the basic skills of your career search very well, like resume writing and interviewing.

This course focuses first on identifying the character strengths that veterans need to exhibit in order to make a successful career transition. As we explored the latest research and best practices in career transitions, we discovered that the most effective strategies are similar for all people seeking to change careers, not just veterans.

These similarities transcend generations. There was a book written in 1945 called Good-Bye to G.I. that provided career transition advice to returning WWII veterans. We also read Marcus Aurelius’ personal writings called Meditations and explored the formation of character through Greek and Roman teachings. We found direct similarities between the virtues that Aurelius wrote about and the behaviors that veterans need to exhibit today to make a successful transition.

Each character strength has the Latin and English translation. This emphasizes that these are timeless principles that have guided dozens of generations to live purpose driven lives. The character strengths are:

  • Pietas (Citizenship)
  • Prudentia (Critical Thinking)
  • Veritas (Authenticity)
  • Gravitas (Passion)
  • Humanitas (Choice and Creativity)
  • Nosce Te Ipsum (Emotional Intelligence)

The curriculum does not need to be completed from start to finish. The material can be used continuously to reflect upon as you progress in your transition. The character strengths are blended together and not independent of one another.

Each lesson has four sections: getting started, core concepts, action items, and wrapping up. There is a digital workbook that you can download that provides space to take notes and then reflect upon them later.

Also, added throughout are:

  • polls so you can see where you stand in relation to other students;
  • discussion threads so that other students can learn from your input and experiences;
  • feedback surveys so that we can continue to refine and improve the curriculum;
  • and voices from real life industry experts and veterans in transition.

We hope you find this course meaningful and we look forward to working with you as you transition into a new phase of your life.

Taught by

Michael Abrams


4.0 rating, based on 1 Class Central review

Start your review of Find Your Calling: Career Transition Principles for Returning Veterans

  • Rodney John Valencia
    The course will provide you with examples of the character strengths, or behaviors, that you need to exhibit in order to find new ways to continue to serve your community, find strength in your transition, and focus your time and efforts on opportun…

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