Marine Veteran Shares His Story: ‘I Found Starbucks and Starbucks Found Me’

When George, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, was looking for his first civilian job after decades in the military, he struggled to find a new career. Now a Starbucks store manager in Southern California, he shares his journey from the Armed Forces to Starbucks.

I grew up in a small town in Michigan, northeast of Detroit, and joined the Marine Corps right out of high school. I spent four years as an infantryman, nine years in combat camera technology, and then 14 years in Marine Corps Community Services, handling business operations, retail, food & hospitality and programs.

After 27 years, I retired from the military and started looking for work.

I found the transition from military to civilian to be very difficult. I was out of work for a long time. Despite my extensive experience, I was getting entry-level offers. I was getting offers from companies I didn’t want offers from, headhunters looking to just fill a slot.

I found Starbucks and Starbucks found me through the Marine for Life program. A representative of Marine for Life handed my resume to Tom Tice [Starbucks military recruiting lead], who handed my resume to our regional director, Melissa Valdez. She arranged a connection, I was interviewed by Kim Allen [district manager], then two other district managers [Eileen Tilley and Damien Iniguez] and was offered a position in the retail management training program. 

Now I manage the Starbucks store at the local medical center. There’s a lot of emotion connected to our location. People can be dealing with a cancer diagnosis or a loss, while other families are celebrating a birth. Patient families and hospital staff come down to us a couple times a day to relax, take a few deep breaths and then go back upstairs.

'Military service is about service'

A lot of folks think the military is about fighting wars, which is why we train. But we also train for humanitarian aid, and we are routinely sent on disaster relief missions – whether it be the tsunami in Indonesia or the earthquake in Japan. Military service is about service. Having been a part of a number of these types of missions, and being a fan of coffee, the work that we do at Starbucks speaks to me as a person. Starbucks is all about service and connecting to your community.

I’ve really grown to love what I do.

Discover more stories about how Starbucks is Paying Tribute and Creating Opportunity for people who've served and sacrificed for the country. 

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