Yonkers, N.Y. March 3, 2014. The Westchester Bank’s launch of The Veterans Career Mentoring Program yielded results far exceeding expectations. Of the 37 companies attending the launch, nearly 70% said they will either mentor or offer an internship to a veteran they met at the event with more than 50% of that group committing to hire a veteran by year’s end, according to a survey of companies attending the launch. Two companies hired veterans on-the-spot.
The businesses that attended volunteered to mentor the more than 60 veterans at this invitation-only event at the Hilton Westchester in Rye Brook, NY. The Veterans Career Mentoring Program, sponsored by The Westchester Bank, is the first of its kind with small business leaders coming together as a concentrated community group to mentor veterans.
“The results exceeded our most optimistic projections,” said John Tolomer, President & CEO of The Westchester Bank. “We constructed this program to be an introduction of a group of veterans to companies, a chance for them to meet, mentor and learn what veterans have to offer – with the hope that some relationships would grow out of that meeting. The program generated commitments from many companies from Westchester County’s business community. Once again Westchester’s business community stepped up and made positive steps in hiring our veterans,” Tolomer said. “This also demonstrates what’s possible in communities such as ours, is possible anywhere in America.”
A National Model for Small Businesses
Duncan Niederauer, CEO of the New York Stock Exchange and Keynote Speaker at the launch, underscored the potential of The Veteran Career Mentoring Program, “We know that small business creates two out of every three jobs in the U.S. What The Westchester Bank is doing here is leveraging that reality into something that will harness the incredible talents these veterans can bring to the workplace,” Mr. Niederauer said. “We encourage other companies to follow The Westchester Bank’s lead and discover the same thing themselves.” Mr. Niederauer concluded.
Mr. Niederauer spearheaded a veterans outreach program at the NYSE that includes one-on-one mentoring, a 10-week internship, and a one-day symposium to train senior executives, human resource professionals and hiring managers in how to translate military training/resumes into civilian job opportunities. The NYSE program is in its third year and has demonstrated its viability by nearly doubling in size each year.
Even Veterans Pleasantly Surprised
Several veterans who attended the launch said this was the first program they had attended where there was a meaningful exchange between veterans and business leaders.
“This workshop is the first I have ever been to because I always thought they were a waste of time,” said Julia Buckner, an unemployed veteran who participated in the program launch. “Not only was it very informative, it was engaging and interactive. I know now that it’s not about quickly finding any job
but about networking to find the right job that matches my skill set and potentially turns into my career.”
Veteran Matt Pizzo spoke at the launch event stating, “I think mentoring programs like The Westchester Bank has put together are crucial. It's going to be key in the development of so many veterans careers.”
Just the Beginning
Mr. Tolomer underscored The Westchester Bank’s commitment to the program by saying there will be more mentoring events in the future. “This is just the beginning,” said Mr. Tolomer. “We’ve only scratched the surface of where potential career paths for veterans can intersect with the hiring goals of small business.”