A journey of persistence
Combat veteran learns the ropes in a corporate world
Matt Adams was a Marine rifleman in Iraq.
He was a machine gunner in Afghanistan.
Today, he’s a Dominion Resources employee.
For Adams, a 32-year-old Suffolk resident, it has been a long climb from dodging bullets in two American wars to a suit-and-tie position with a major energy company.
He is part of a stepped-up effort by Dominion and other Virginia-based companies, to employ qualified veterans.
Adams has been with Dominion since May 2012, soon after his deployment to Afghanistan ended.
His has been a journey of persistence and opportunity.
Today, he is an energy assistance outreach administrator, talking with various groups and individuals and providing customer service over a range of Dominion’s offerings.
He first applied to Dominion through its Troops to Energy Jobs program. But he didn’t have a lock on a job just because he was a veteran.
“First time I applied, I didn’t get the position. I applied for the security forces at [a] power station,” says Adams, who had been working with a construction company building bridges.
Then he applied to be a groundsman, who helps with line workers. He made it through a phone interview, and everything seemed to be going well. Then, an existing Dominion employee did an internal transfer and took the job.
“They were taking care of their own, and I respected that,” he says.
Adams finally got an entry-level position, and in 2014 he started taking courses toward an associate degree in business administration at Tidewater Community College. He hopes to graduate in December.
As a Marine reservist, Adams, who is married with three children, says he is sometimes activated for temporary duty assignments and other obligations with his unit.
He says that, when he is on active duty, Dominion makes up the difference between his military pay and what he earns at the company.
As a Reserve staff sergeant, Adams has commanded up to 30 Marines, often under very difficult circumstances.
He says it’s important for him to remember to not be authoritative in his civilian job, because military culture and corporate life are so different.
Adams also is careful about what he says about his combat experiences. People with no exposure in frontline combat often don’t understand what he has seen.
“It’s not like I’m trying to censor myself,” he says. “It’s just out of respect for those who may not have similar viewpoints. The company wants to have a diverse but inclusive environment.”