Matt Drazba and Scott Jaros know firsthand how difficult the journey can be for veterans transitioning from military to civilian life. Inspired by their own experiences, both employees spearheaded the launch of eBay’s Honor Role Veteran Apprenticeship program, which provides career mentorship and support for service members as they shift into the civilian workforce.
As co-presidents of eBay’s HONOR Community of Inclusion — an employee-led group created to provide support and opportunities for service members — Matt and Scott often meet to discuss issues facing veterans today. The spark behind the veteran apprenticeship program came through a conversation between the two Marines in late 2019, when they both realized they had shared similar hurdles in stepping into civilian careers.
“When I got out of the military, it felt like I was almost deploying again to some foreign country,” said Matt, who’s now a senior product manager on eBay’s core tech team.
The California native has spent more than a dozen years in the Marines, including active duty and the reserves, and was deployed twice — once to Afghanistan. Now a dad of three boys, he returned to civilian life in 2014, taking on seven jobs in five years, before joining eBay.
Scott also took several different jobs following his service in the Marines in the 1990s. After being a member of the infantry, he found it difficult at first in applying to roles that matched his skills directly on paper, when he returned to civilian life in Utah. He worked in a number of various roles across multiple industries, before pursuing his bachelor’s degree and becoming the risk manager on eBay’s IT services and solutions team.
For both Scott and Matt, shifting into the civilian workforce hadn’t been easy, but those experiences motivated them to search for ways on how they could support military personnel during their transition. “When I got to eBay, I thought, ‘How can I turn this around and offer this opportunity to other veterans?’” Matt said.
An estimated 200,000 service members leave active-duty military service every year and return to civilian life, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. Though military jobs are different, the skills a service member gains are transferable to civilian roles — but it’s a matter of veterans being able to articulate them in job applications, both Scott and Matt said.
“If you were in an infantry unit and you manage a team, you have people management and problem-solving skills. But the biggest problem facing veterans is how to take what they’ve learned in the military and translate that into a resume or civilian-world speak,” Scott said.
Matt knew of a specialized program called SkillBridge for veterans that is run by the U.S. Department of Defense. Together, he and Scott worked on bringing the program to eBay through the HONOR COI, naming it the Honor Role Veteran Apprenticeship program. The pair began recruiting in fall 2020 for participants and formally launched the program in April with guidance from eBay’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team.
Through the initiative, six apprentices joined eBay throughout this year, all from varied backgrounds, branches and ranks of the military. The veterans will spend the final six months, or 180 days, of their service at eBay “on assignment,” training and learning alongside eBay employees in the tech, marketing and operations departments.
Participants also will gain assistance with resume translation, interviewing, professional networking and soft skills, and learn one-on-one with their mentors, who help guide them through what it’s like to work at a tech company.
“This program helps translate what they did in the service and then tie it into the corporate world,” Scott said. “These service members are seasoned, disciplined and have a great work ethic. Our goal with the program is to create a talent pipeline for eBay that directly brings service members that are leaving the military into that talent pool, because there's phenomenal talent in the armed services.”
Jordan Sweetnam, senior vice president of eBay North America, is the executive sponsor of the HONOR COI. “Veterans bring incredible experience and diverse perspective to large corporations, and eBay’s Honor Role Veteran Apprenticeship Program is a way to tap into this amazing talent pool. The veteran community stands for integrity, service and teamwork — and they also understand complex large-scale problems and the value of flawless execution.
This group is perfectly suited to help eBay come up with innovative solutions to our toughest customer challenges. eBay’s purpose is all about empowerment, and the Apprenticeship Program helps veterans who are interested in a different career trajectory start a new chapter – offering a win-win for them and our customers,” he said.
Tremayne Sullivan joined eBay as a marketing apprentice this summer. He leveraged the project management skills he learned in the Air Force to support eBay’s marketing and social media campaigns.
Tremayne Sullivan joined as a marketing apprentice this summer on the eBay Motors team. As he began winding down his six years in the Air Force working on military construction projects, he learned of the eBay apprenticeship program while looking into opportunities for service members returning to civilian life.
During his apprenticeship, Tremayne said his manager tapped into his project management skills from the military, tasking him with helping support several marketing and social media campaigns. One of his favorite memories from his apprenticeship was shadowing an eBay employee during a work trip in Washington, D.C., to learn how eBay works with dealerships to support the motors category.
Now based in Utah, Tremayne said he’s excited to continue to learn and grow as much as possible from his colleagues in the office. “I want to be a master of marketing, and so right now, I just want to keep my head low, work and learn as much as I can from the team,” he said. “I would 100 percent recommend this program to every veteran and every transitioning service member that's leaving the military because you're learning invaluable skills.”
Looking ahead, both Scott and Matt hope to continue expanding the program and build more resources for those who have served in the military. For Scott, his most rewarding experience in the program is bringing veterans like Tremayne on board at the company and in hearing their personal stories. And for Matt, it’s gratifying to learn from veteran apprentices who are sharing what new skills they’ve picked up while working at eBay.
“This program is a rising tide that lifts all boats,” Matt said. “Everybody wins, including eBay and the veteran community. This program is a match made in heaven to me.”
Learn more about eBay’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives at ebay.com/company/diversity-equity-inclusion.