FORT KNOX, Ky. –
Amazon, Tesla and Disney all agree. The U.S. Army has the talent they want.
That’s why the three corporate giants are among the nearly 1,000 employers who have become part of the Army’s Partnership for Youth Success, a program that guarantees job interviews for Future Soldiers and ROTC cadets.
Second Lt. Sin Hua Deng was one of those cadets. She was in her senior year of her ROTC commitment at the University of California, Los Angeles, when she realized “the pandemic was not going away any time soon,” and her job prospects after graduation would be more limited because of it.
The PaYS website emerged while Deng researched opportunities online. Working for a company that actively sought out Soldiers was immediately appealing. She sifted through the site’s long list of PaYS partners and out popped shipping titan J.B. Hunt, with logistics and supply chain management positions in Southern California near her family and friends.
“It seemed like a good fit,” she said. “It (had) two of my main criteria.”
She used the PaYS website to select J.B. Hunt and soon after had a guaranteed job interview waiting for when her time at UCLA was complete. She graduated in June 2020 and, as promised, she met with J.B. Hunt a few weeks later. The company made a job offer right away, and Deng is now training full-time as a manager.
The PaYS process “was really easy,” Deng said while attending the Army’s Basic Officer Leadership Course at Fort Gordon, Georgia, in early February. “I wish more people knew about it.”
Deng is a platoon leader assigned to the 397th Signal Company in Riverside, California. J.B. Hunt granted her military leave to attend the training in Georgia. As an Army Reserve Soldier, Deng can reap the benefits of being a Soldier and a PaYS participant simultaneously.
The PaYS promise for enlisted Soldiers, however, more often extends farther into the future. It starts in the beginning of their Army journey. Recruiters review the jobs loaded by PaYS partners that match military occupational specialties. Program details can then be discussed with an applicant, as well as the applicant’s family.
PaYS establishes a relationship between the Soldier and participating partners before, during and after service with the guarantee of a job interview. It’s the relationship-creating nature of PaYS that makes it a favorite of Maj. Gen. Kevin Vereen, the commanding general of U.S. Army Recruiting Command.
“PaYS partners provide us with an additional incentive for our new recruits,” Vereen said during a recent PaYS ceremony. “They help us show parents the Army genuinely wants to invest in the future success of their sons and daughters.”
Future Soldiers can choose up to five different employers with which they would like to interview when their Army commitment is complete. The number of choices represents the growth and success of the program since it began more than 20 years ago, according to Joseph Rivers Jr., a PaYS project lead.
Future Soldiers near Los Angeles, for example, could only pick one when Rivers was working there during PaYS’ beginning years, and the choices were much more limited.
“Everybody got Sears or Firestone,” he said. “That’s all we had.”
Rivers has since witnessed PaYS flourish into something an extensive number of household brands want in on. Tesla Motors is one of those brands. So is its founder, Elon Musk, who was a “big proponent” of PaYS when he needed lots of manpower for the beginning stages of the Tesla empire.
“He was just snatching up everybody,” Rivers said. “He wouldn’t even interview them.”
More recently, Rivers has watched Amazon pull a steady stream of former Soldiers into it ranks, especially those who were commissioned. “They’re grabbing all our officers,” he said.
G4S Secure Solutions, the largest security firm in the world, receives more emails about veterans ready for job interviews from PaYS than any of its other military applicant sources, according to Brian Reynolds, G4S director of Veterans Employment and Military Affairs.
Reynolds said he personally responds to each email immediately because the PaYS program has become “extremely valuable” to his company.
“We already know they are qualified for a position with our company,” he said. “We just have to determine where they want to apply.”
In 2019, more than 350 Soldiers accepted employment with G4S via PaYS (2020 totals not yet available). About 60 percent of the 7,560 veterans G4S hired last year were Soldiers.
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