The mission of STEM Veterans USA is to connect veterans in STEM with opportunity through Internship, Employment, Research, and Networking.
STEM Veterans USA was founded by student veteran, Ben Hallstrom in 2016. His idea was to connect student veterans to internships and jobs relative to their technical skills obtained in service and STEM major/degree to better their academic and professional career.
Being a student at Florida State University (FSU), Hallstrom created STEM Veterans USA at Florida State as a Registered Student Organization (RSO) at the university. Connecting with the Collegiate Veterans Association (CVA) and other veteran communities within FSU, Hallstrom gauged the interest in the RSO’s programs and saw the ability to upscale to a national non-profit organization. After becoming incorporated, the national organization branded itself as STEM Veterans USA.
Reaching out to his involved organizations, Hallstrom connected with other motivated individuals. The team grew to comprise of undergraduate students, graduate students, law students and other collegiate veterans. Moreover, these people brought specific skill sets and interests that assisted in the foundation of the organization as it expanded its national roots. Valuing the importance of internship, scholarship, research, and networking, STEM Veterans USA established chapters within FSU and Rutgers University.
In conjunction as the CEO of STEM Veterans USA, Hallstrom also served as an infantryman and Scout Sniper in the United States Marine Corps with a deployment to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and twice to Al Anbar, Iraq. Afterward, he attended St. Petersburg College to earn an Associate’s Degree. Hallstrom then completed his Social Science degree at the Florida State University and is currently finishing an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Companies have programs designed to recruit and hire veterans with tech skills from their service, tech skills obtained using their GI Bill benefits, STEM degrees, and veterans with industry experience. However, companies have a limit to their recruitment resources and can only reach a certain number of potential candidates.
Student veterans must balance their personal lives with their scholastic responsibilities and have limited time and resources to find internships, scholarships, research opportunities, and networking opportunities. Internships are a crucial component of a student’s professional portfolio to help them secure employment upon graduating. Many entry-level jobs are given to students that have completed an internship since the company was able to evaluate the student without going through the full-time hiring process.
Many transitioning veterans have specific and in-depth technical training and skills from their service and these veterans are highly sought after by companies. Veterans also may use their GI Bill benefits to pursue technical degrees instead of 4-year STEM degrees and these veterans are extremely valuable to companies as well. These technical programs are very intense and time-consuming and they have limited time and resources to find new hire positions.
There are many veterans with technical skills and STEM education that have been in industry and are considered experienced candidates. These veterans are still vigorously sought after by companies as well.
STEM Veterans USA’s Value Proposition is that we will be a hub to increase the number of these potential candidates for companies, and increase the opportunities for the veteran.
STEM Veterans USA will accomplish this by complimenting the existing organizations that make up the robust veteran service focused nonprofit sector.