A Bridge Between Service and the Civilian World

SkillBridge Provides Northrop Grumman Internships to Those Still on Duty

Stephanie has experienced culture shock before. When she first joined the U.S. Air Force 20 years ago, the Detroit native was surprised to find that her days at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska were even more fast paced and “on the go” than her life back in the Motor City. But she had grown up watching her mechanic father at work, and taken many drafting, design and automotive classes in high school. So she quickly adjusted to life as a jet engine mechanic.

Another shock was in store when she decided last year to move onto the next phase of her life, retire from the Air Force and move into the corporate world. She wasn’t sure where to turn for guidance. Then, while searching through networking websites, she discovered a program called SkillBridge, and that set her on the path to coming to work at Northrop Grumman.

“The change from military life to the corporate world, it’s pretty different,” Stephanie said. “So, it was nice to have something to help you transition.”

Stephanie had positive experiences with Northrop Grumman employees while working on planes like the KC-10. Northrop Grumman also participated in SkillBridge forums online, answering questions and offering advice. She made a point to conduct her SkillBridge internship in project management at Northrop Grumman.

Chris, who served as a Marine Corps logistics officer, had a slightly more personal introduction to Northrop Grumman: his wife Dana was already an employee. When he was getting ready to leave the Marine Corps in early 2021 after seven years in uniform, one of Dana’s colleagues, Aaron in Tactical Autonomous Systems reached out and told him about SkillBridge, offering to serve as a sponsor. Chris completed his internship in June and officially on-boarded shortly after.

“The change from military life to the corporate world, it’s pretty different. So, it was nice to have something to help you transition.”

Stephanie, SkillBridge intern

During his SkillBridge internship, Chris was able to gain experience in different areas. Doing so gave him a better perspective on what he wanted to do when he officially separated.

“My learning curve was cut in half,” said Chris, now a retrofits project manager in logistics and modernization. “My transition was seamless.”

Both Stephanie and Chris said SkillBridge helped them connect with the wider veteran community at Northrop Grumman, and that created a support system that made the transition to civilian life that much easier.

White woman smiling
Stephanie, Skillbridge Intern

“[It] was probably one of the most stressful periods of my life, but the culture at Northrop Grumman feels like a genuine desire to see me succeed,” Chris said. “Just listening to the shared experiences allowed me as an individual to ease that burden and ease that stress.”

Instead of a culture shock, Chris said he was able to slowly change his mindset while getting the help from colleagues, experiences across disciplines and learning how to relate his military experience to a Northrop Grumman scope of work.

Stephanie and Chris are two of the more than 100 service members that the SkillBridge program has brought to Northrop Grumman full-time, according to Liz, a Talent Acquisition Military Program manager who leads Northrop Grumman’s SkillBridge efforts.

She said the company is proud to be part of the SkillBridge community. “We participate in the SkillBridge program because it provides service members an opportunity to intern within our organization for 6 months—finding their ideal career fit the first time.”

SkillBridge is Department of Defense program designed to help military service members transition to the civilian workforce through specific industry training, apprenticeships, or internships during the last 180 days of service. Service members who are winding down their military careers can apply for internships, which are funded by the Department of Defense, and essentially finish their service in a civilian role. The program teaches service members new skills, and ensures more veterans find jobs where they can thrive when their service is complete. See available Skillbridge internships at Northrop Grumman.

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