Veteran Scholarship Recipient on ‘Bridging the Crosswalk Into Corporate Life’

For Jonathan Bernhardt, constant improvement and progress are key. “I’m always continuing down that track of just being better at what I do,” he says. As a recipient of the DRI Foundation Veteran’s Outreach Program Scholarship in 2020, Bernhardt is able to do just that. The scholarship has allowed him and many other veterans to attend free training and successfully earn his Certified Business Continuity Professional (CBCP) certification.

Bernhardt enlisted in the Coast Guard following the September 11 attacks. After serving as an enlisted member, Bernhardt entered the officer candidate school program. He spent four years on active duty before transitioning to the reserves, where he is still serving as an active reserve officer today. In addition to his position in the reserves, Bernhardt is currently the senior director of enterprise crisis management and strategy at Freddie Mac.

Speaking on his transition, Bernhardt says that the Veteran’s Outreach Program Scholarship helped him “bridge the crosswalk into corporate life.” He explains how in the military, individuals are trained to adjust and solve crises even when in unfamiliar environments. “They can get up to speed and start working on the problem. That’s just what they do,” he says. Those same skills can be applied to the business world; Bernhardt believes that the CBCP course and certification serve as proof to recruiters and interviewers that veterans are “willing to grow and mature.”

Bernhardt also believes that the demand for individuals with a CBCP certification is at an all-time high. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, those in emergency and disaster management or business continuity roles are tasked with the responsibility of helping companies “get over the pandemic.”

“I think that’s shown most employers that these things do happen, it’s not if but when,” Bernhardt says. “They’re going to happen again. Could be cyber next time, could be ransomware, could be a hurricane, or physical security, or even another pandemic.” Bernhardt understands that these jobs in emergency and crisis management are needed and believes that the CBCP certification provides a great opportunity. “As a veteran, this is at no cost to you… this is something you can take advantage of right now because you’re in the military.”

“This could be the key,” Bernhardt says, of the CBCP course, “This could be the key to having a better, more successful transition into a corporate industry role or even government.” He believes that the course and certification can open doors to new opportunities that were previously closed. Speaking about veterans like himself, Bernhardt says, “Having this comma after their name could be something that helps them get their foot in the door for interviewing and getting into the career field.” Bernhardt offered key tips that any active or veteran would hear: “Find a mentor to help guide you out of the military, invest in yourself (e.g., getting a professional resume writer, professional memberships and certifications), connect with others and network as much as you can, and know that what you did in the military (for however long you served) has value and importance.”

About the Veterans Outreach Program Scholarship

Disaster Recovery International (DRI) Foundation is committed to helping our veterans succeed. To do our part, the Foundation has created a Veterans Outreach Program to help our Veterans realize their dreams and help both themselves and their respective organizations achieve great success as they transition into the professions of emergency response, crisis management, business continuity and disaster recovery.

The Veterans Outreach Program’s focus is to establish an industry-first “giving-back” scholarship program to active duty or recently separated (within five years) veterans of our United States Military. The scholarship will include, at no cost to qualified candidates, admission to Disaster Recovery Institute International (DRI) educational course (BCLE 2000), all course materials, qualifying examination, and all applicable certification application fees. These certifications are the standards of excellence in business continuity management and will help the candidate to stand out as a job candidate in this competitive field. Certifications acknowledge an individual’s effort to achieve a professional level of competency in the industry.

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Article by Michelle Masiello for DRI