A former fighter jet mechanic discusses work in the military and beyond.
At Nestlé we believe that veterans make our company better?—?we love the experience and skills that they bring with them, and we also believe we have a responsibility to help in their transition from military to civilian life.
We spoke with one such veteran, Carmine Solimini, about his path from the Air Force to our Human Resources Development Program in Tulare, California.
Why did you decide to join the U.S. Air Force?
I joined the Air Force because I wanted to serve my country, and travel the world. It was also necessary to help me pay for college?—?and the Air Force really delivered on all fronts. I was fortunate to become a fighter jet mechanic and work with F-15’s.
Most of my time was spent based at Royal Air Force Lakenheath in England, but I also had the opportunity to serve in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
What skills did you learn from your experiences in the Air Force?
Prior to my service, I was quiet and introverted. The Air Force taught me to be collaborative and to work well with team members from different cultures. I was also asked to live in many different places?—?including some uncomfortable environments?—?and learned how to make the best out of any situation.
You’re a passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion?—?can you explain your background in that area?
Throughout my military career I worked to spread LGBTQ equality throughout the armed forces and was a Chapter Leader for a group called Outserve, one of the key lobbying groups that advocated for the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Before “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed, I knew gay service men and women who were depressed because they could not be who they truly were. I was honored to be able to help change the culture within the U.S. Military through my involvement with Outserve.
What role does diversity and inclusion play in civilian workplaces?
To be most effective, employees need to feel comfortable being who they really are. If they feel they are hiding part of their life from co-workers, it affects their work and the overall dynamics of the team.
All companies and organizations need to work to make all employees feel comfortable enough to come to work each day and contribute their best ideas?—?regardless of gender or gender identity, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.
What made you interested in the Nestlé USA Human Resources Development Program program?
After my military service, I attended Penn State University and received a degree in Labor Studies and Employment Relations. During my last semester, I attended the Nestlé Diversity Leadership Symposium where I had the opportunity to discuss diversity and inclusion, leadership, and other important issues with 30 students from around the country. Following the symposium, Nestlé offered me the chance to join the development program and I jumped at the opportunity.
Not many companies offer a program that provides trainees with this much depth in the field of HR. The most valuable aspect is the exposure you get to both seasoned HR professionals and senior leaders. It expands your frame of reference and helps you build great networks.
Why do you think veterans make great additions to a team?
Military veterans are one of our nation’s best sources of talent. They are well-trained and often highly skilled in technology and maintenance. Veterans are also results-oriented and used to working in teams?—?all characteristics that are beneficial to find in any good employee.
Would you recommend trainee and apprenticeship schemes?
In my opinion, trainee and apprenticeship programs are the best way to learn and also advance your career. If you are interested, just do it! You won’t be disappointed with the experience.