Finding employment after a change of station or end of active service can seem like a daunting prospect. To curtail some of the challenges service members or spouses might face, the Family Member Employment Activity Center (FMEAP) on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune provides free classes to help bolster the necessary skills and confidence required to find a job.

Mel Jennings is a contractor with Coastal Carolina Community College (CCCC) who works with the FMEAP as part of the Human Resource Development program (HRD) through CCCC’s Continuing Education program. As an instructor, Jennings provides insight on skills like knowing how to approach an interview or putting together resumes. That includes helping service members bridge the potential gap between the military and civilian sectors.

“One thing I have noticed is that there is a lot of testosterone (on installations),” Jennings said. “When you approach an interviewer you want a firm handshake, but you don’t want to break their hand.”

The FMEAP is the site of seven classes available to service members and their spouses. Over the course of five three-hour classes per subject, each program builds on previous lessons to ensure students will have all of the skills necessary to be productive members of their future field. One such class, “Putting Your Best Foot Forward,” focuses on helping quell the nervousness that might come with an interview.

“A huge thing with modern interviews is making sure you have done your research,” Jennings explained. “Employers are sure to ask what you know about their company. … This class helps to showcase the do’ss and don’ts of transferring into the next chapter of your career. I help students think of themselves as a product they are trying to sell. We help them find their benefits to meet the needs of future employers.”

The first day of the course helped students understand how their billets give them relevant experience. It also dealt with proper attire. The week is capped off with actual mock interviews developed from students bringing in real job listings they find interesting.

Jennings also acknowledged what to watch out for in interviews, such as potential employers asking about service related injuries or discriminating based on veteran status.

“That is a HIPAA violation,” Jennings informed students. “If anyone asks about your medical history, you do not have to answer.”

Courses are available at the FMEAP building at Tarawa Terrace. For parents with young children, free child care is available through the FMEAP and Child Development Centers on MCB Camp Lejeune during class times. Registration and a full list of courses are available at https://www.mccslejeune-newriver.com/FMEAP.