Spring 2017 Corps Review | Back
VPI Battalion Column
By Jason Oberoi ’09, assistant director of the Citizen-Leader Track/VPI Battalion
If you had asked me what I would be doing after graduation, never in a thousand years would I have thought I would be back at Virginia Tech, much less working on the Corps of Cadets staff. But when I got the opportunity to come back to the Corps in August, I couldn’t pass on it.
My time with the Corps began in 2005 as a rat in Band Company. I applied to one school, got into one school, and accepted an offer from one school without ever seeing campus, so my parents thought it would be a good idea to visit.
My orientation leader, Ryan Edenstrom ’05, was a fifth-year student who was the 3rd Battalion commander. Bryant Tomlin ’09 and I peppered him with questions about what the Corps was, and he gave me enough information to know that I still wanted to join.
I didn’t think about what this meant when I arrived on campus in August 2005, but the true value of being a cadet became very apparent when I got to my first unit in the Army in June 2011. Not only was I mentally and physically prepared to be a platoon leader, but my unit was full of Corps alumni. Tom Lenz ’08 was my executive officer, Derrick Gough ’09 was the chemical officer, and Anthony Akrami ’08 was a fire support platoon leader.
This great group of guys took me in and prepared me for deployment to Afghanistan. I ran into one of my buds, Devan Vaughn ’09, in a dining hall. I signed for my vehicles from Will Larsen ’08, my first sergeant when I was a rat, and I RIP’ed (replaced) with Tyler Walrond ’09 while I was there. The Corps prepared me to be an officer and gave me a great family. Best yet, I also met my wife, Allie, in the Corps.
I am now the assistant director for the Citizen-Leader Track/VPI Battalion. In short, I ensure that our Citizen-Leader (Corps only) cadets have the professional development to get jobs. Part of this is connecting with employers to talk about cadets. Part of this is teaching classes on resumes, explaining job fair tactics, helping cadets network with employers, and spreading the word about the Corps and its cadets. I want our grads to tap into the same network of alumni that helped me as an officer.
One of the efforts we started to increase cadet networking is the Alumni Mentor Program. Using a LinkedIn group, we are engaging alumni from all backgrounds, majors, and classes to be a resource for our cadets. The idea behind the group is that any cadet with a question about being assigned to a post or branch or ship or who will be going into a certain profession can post a question on the Linkedin group’s board. Any alumnus with knowledge on the matter can reply.
The dream is to one day establish individual Linkedin groups for each of the branches, as well as one for our VPI alumni — but this is contingent upon the number of alumni who participate. We thank those of you who have already volunteered. Another nice benefit is that jobs can be posted directly to the group for only our students and alumni to see. If you are interested in being involved, go to linkedin.com/groups/8576000.
We also continue to receive support from members of the Rice Center Board of Advisors. Not only do they network us into a number of businesses and law enforcement organizations, they also offer advice on how to best update our curriculum so that cadets are leaving with education that makes them more marketable.
The Alumni Mentor Program, as well as a number of new initiatives we hope to begin, all focus on one goal: having 90 percent of our graduates employed or in graduate school by the time they walk across the graduation stage. Currently this number is only matched by Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business and College of Engineering, but we hope that with more networking with employers and some help from our alumni, we achieve our goal.
If you or someone you know is looking for young leaders to add to their organization, please let me know. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.