28 May 2024

Clune X Hiring Our Heroes: Creating Meaningful Employment Opportunities for Active-Duty Service Members Transitioning to Civilian Life

Established in 2011, Hiring Our Heroes (HOH) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to facilitating connections between the military community and American businesses. Their mission is to create opportunities for our service members while building a robust, diversified workforce. They work closely with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s extensive network of state and local chambers and partner with various public, private and nonprofit organizations to create meaningful employment opportunities for transitioning service members, veterans, military spouses, and military caregivers.

HOH hosts more than 50 hiring events annually that are available both in-person and virtually. These events take place in 39 states across the country, as well as on military bases located in Germany, Italy, Japan, and Puerto Rico. More than half a million veterans and military spouses have found employment through HOH events and programs.

In 2021, Clune began to collaborate with HOH with the goal of exploring new approaches to enhance our workforce diversity, foster inclusivity and identify well-qualified candidates from non-traditional sources. Veterans bring a set of transferable skills honed through their military service, encompassing leadership, project management, and communication abilities. Many of the candidates that we interview for these roles align closely with our company’s core values, a key factor we consider of utmost significance.

After researching organizations that could help bridge this gap, HOH emerged as an ideal solution. This initiative leverages the unique experiences and dedication of the country’s veterans. This enhances workplace culture and contributes to a more dynamic and adaptable team. Clune initially piloted the HOH program in the Dallas and Los Angeles offices. The program has since expanded its presence, and we now participate in career fairs nationwide. Our Talent Acquisition team attends at least one career event per quarter, so Clune can grow our presence in the military community, with the goal to continue inviting participants to join our growing team.

Clune’s partnership with HOH involves active-duty service members joining Clune as fellows for 12 weeks when they are still on active duty. They work on a Clune jobsite Monday through Thursday and return to HOH on Fridays for professional development training. At the conclusion of their fellowship, the employee’s performance is assessed by their team at Clune, where the goal is to extend and offer a full-time position.

Our efforts within the HOH Fellows Program have yielded positive results with the recruitment of five current employees –Drew Schiefelbein, John Olvera, Kevin Vanneman, Nick Welch and YoungTae Seo.

Drew Schiefelbein, an Assistant Project Manager in Clune’s Dallas office, began his tenure at Clune in 2024. He served in the Marine Corps for over five years. As he transitioned out of the military, he reflected on his high school experiences as a laborer and connected with HOH to continue this path. Meeting with Clune, Schiefelbein immediately recognized it as the right fit. His background as a Marine attracted him to Clune, as he found the company’s culture and standards closely aligned with his own values.

John Olvera, an Assistant Superintendent in Clune’s Dallas office, started at Clune in 2022 and was our first HOH full-time hire. Olvera served in the U.S. Army for over two decades. During his transition back to civilian life, he was involved in the Army’s Career Skills Program which gives service members the opportunity to work in civilian career fields. That’s how he connected with HOH. For Olvera, the world of construction closely resembled his military service. The fundamental principles remained the same: managing personnel to get the mission done – or in this case, the project, completed in a safe and timely manner. In utilizing these previous skills, his passion for construction has amplified since being in the field.

Kevin Vanneman, an Assistant Project Manager in Clune’s Chicago office, embarked on his construction career in 2024. Prior to joining Clune, he spent eight years serving in the United States Army. As his military service was nearing its conclusion, Vanneman participated in the Career Skills Program, where he connected with HOH. His background in the Engineer Branch of the Army naturally led him to the construction industry due to the similar work ethics and project-driven environment. Vanneman has leveraged his military skills, and his enthusiasm for construction has grown significantly since then.

Nick Welch, an Assistant Superintendent in Clune’s Dallas office, began his journey in early 2023. He served in the U.S. Army for five years prior to joining Clune. When he began his transition from the military, he learned about HOH through Soldier for Life, an organization that connects U.S. Army soldiers with organizations that provide information and training to prepare them for civilian life. Serving as an engineer in the Army, Welch was fascinated by the world of construction. The hands-on, creative and problem-solving aspects drew him to the field. His time in the Army provided him with a solid foundation of knowledge that he applies to his daily tasks at Clune.

YoungTae Seo, a Project Engineer in Clune’s Los Angeles office, was a part of the most recent cohort. Seo served as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army stationed at Fort Liberty, North Carolina, for four years. As his military experience came to a close, Seo considered his past experiences in logistics and supply management when he crossed paths with HOH. Seo was intrigued by the construction field because, to him, it wasn’t just a job; it was an opportunity to create something new. To him, the idea of being part of a process that brings new structures to life is rewarding.

Clune is looking forward to further collaboration with HOH and envisions an ongoing expansion into various departments within the company. As we continue to grow and secure additional projects near our satellite office in Tampa and its neighboring regions, and eventually all of our office locations, we eagerly anticipate actively recruiting a large number of candidates through this partnership.

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