Mayo Clinic is a unique place: the culture, the values, the people. "Mayo Clinic Employee Experiences" explores the experiences of Mayo Clinic staff as they navigate life personally and professionally. Sharing these experiences increases understanding of others and ultimately contributes to finding connections, belonging and inclusion at work.
In this episode, you will hear from Noe Andrade, a clinical support services supervisor, and Paul Brassea, a clinical support services manager, as they discuss bringing Andrade onto the supply chain team after a long career in the U.S. Air Force.
Listen as they discuss how to support veterans transitioning to civilian life.
Narrator: In this episode of "Mayo Clinic Employee Experiences," you will hear Noe, Clinical Support Services supervisor, and Paul, Clinical Support Services manager, discuss their experiences hiring Noe after a long career in the U.S. Air Force.
Andrade: I started an internship with Mayo Clinic through SkillBridge — a Department of Defense program with the Air Force — back in February. I did six weeks with the team in Clinical Support Services, and it was amazing. So much so that I decided to apply for a job in June and got accepted to become a supervisor in Clinical Support Services for Surgery.
I did 20 years in the Air Force from 2002 to 2022. I joined the Air Force for two reasons. When I was in high school in Brooklyn, New York, I was in what's called a junior Air Force ROTC program. I was there for four years, and I loved what the Air Force ROTC did. The second reason is that I was there when the Twin Towers were attacked on Sept. 11. I was in school, and I decided that as an immigrant, I wanted to be a critical component in protecting this country, which has such amazing freedoms. I decided to join the Air Force, and that was a no-brainer for me. The goal was to do four years in the Air Force and get out and get my education. But four years became eight, then eight became 12. Once you hit 12, it's like, I might as well just finish 20.
Brassea: When you were transitioning out of the military, did you have any concerns about going into civilian life?
Andrade: Working in a place for 20 years, that's all you know. You have a secure paycheck. All the military personnel, whether it's a one-striper or no stripes to a four-star general, I think all of us get intimidated by the transition. You go from knowing and being an expert in your field to going somewhere that the organization is different. When I was transitioning, I was researching companies that would align with the values of the Air Force and my values. I needed to work for a company that made me feel safe and made me feel welcome, and where I felt like I was making a difference. I conducted an interview, and I got good news saying that I got selected to become a part of the SkillBridge program, and that's how everything started.
Brassea: I know one of the big things, too, that we talked about with the SkillBridge program was just making it (the training) longer. I think six weeks was too short with having to get you onboarded and learn all the new systems.
Andrade: I think more time. Two or three months is solid, but at the end of the day, the program is only as effective as the people who manage it.
Brassea: I remember your interview and I'm like, "That's the guy. No question about it."
Andrade: I'm humbled that you selected me. It's a great opportunity to be at Mayo. You gave my family and me so much by selecting me.
Brassea: Was there anything with the team that surprised you when you started?
Andrade: I have nothing bad to say about anybody. That may sound cliche, but it's the truth. Every person really made an effort to make me feel welcome Mayo.
Brassea: When you started training, it was originally for the coordinator role because that was the upcoming role that we had that was opening in our department. Then, with how quickly we're growing, people moved on to different positions. A supervisor position became available. I just knew in my little time with you — it was an amazing six weeks — but just seeing your leadership style and how you interacted with people, it stood out. Obviously, you could have been a clinical coordinator. You could have mastered that easily. But in our conversations, you pointed out how it wasn't as challenging as you wanted it to be. And when that supervisor role became available, it was a no-brainer, especially when you expressed interest in doing that after being stuck with me for six weeks in the trenches.
Andrade: It was a great blessing. We need strong teams so that we can take care of the patient. That was my biggest goal. I feel like I contribute more by being in a supervisor role because my strengths, my experience, is based on management and leadership and development. Thanks for making my transition easier.
I do have some questions, Paul, regarding the military and veterans. What perceptions did you have about hiring a veteran?
Brassea: Honestly, I treated it like any other person I would have interviewed. Knowing that somebody might have a military background or they're a veteran, I think instinctively they've seen a lot, they've done a lot, they've traveled a lot. The thing that stands out the most is they have experience with dealing with diversity. That's a huge asset for any organization to have. It is your ability to get along with others, and in the military, you have to, especially when you have a mission that you need to do. And it's the same at Mayo. So, you have to put any differences that you might have aside to do your job. I think about how qualified they are and how many different skills they have.
Andrade: When we transition, we are told that there might be some employers that have perceptions about us like post-traumatic stress disorder. But there also is the other perception that we like structure with leadership and that we're going to get stuff done. I appreciate the fact that you treat me like I was a regular civilian because that maintains the objectivity of the selection. That, to me, was great.
Brassea: Do you think there is anything that Mayo can do to try to make the transition for military veterans easier in coming to the civilian world?
Andrade: Kindness and patience are the biggest things that I think people need. And you show that to me. That's why I decided to pursue a job with Mayo. You really made me feel that those values meant something here. Even to this day, I don't think I've realized I'm no longer in the military. It hasn't hit me yet. People ask me "Are you struggling?" I don't think I am because Mayo has provided me with this safety, this protection, this blanket, this kindness.
Brassea: I think one thing that might help with transitioning especially when getting hired into a role is just making sure there is a training regimen. There's structure. I have family members who are veterans. I have friends who are in the military.
Andrade: That's great. I know there are challenges when it comes to veterans, but Mayo concentrates more on what we bring to the table, and they value that. Any veteran considering applying at Mayo should go for it.
What surprised you about me when I started?
Brassea: I think the "Yes, sir" and "No, sir," the "Yes, ma'am," "No, ma'am." It took a while to get used to. But again, that just goes along with the culture. It's a sign of respect. The thing I was most impressed by was your willingness to jump in and learn things. You weren't afraid to dive in and try to learn something even if you didn't know much about it. It was like, "Tell me where to go. Tell me what to do. How do we go about doing this?" It was that can-do attitude of, let's get this done. And then, the effectiveness with which you did it and your ability to work with the other team members as quickly as you did. If it doesn't work out, we'll adapt, and we'll pivot this way. That's kind of the mindset I know I have. So, I think it's why we get along so well.
Andrade: And that goes both ways. My success is also based on the people around me. What I appreciate and respect a lot is that you empower me. You say, "This is what you do. This is how I want it done." And then you let me run with it. You let me do my job. You don't micromanage, but you provide guidance. That's a key component of a great leader. I love every single person I work with, and my thing is, "What can I do for you? How can I help you develop and make our department the strongest?" I want people to come to work and feel respected — know that we care for them. That we listen to them. That we embrace them. At the end of the day, everything is done for the development of their success. If they are successful, then the patient is going to be taken care of.
What recommendations would you give to other supervisors and managers about considering a veteran in their department?
Brassea: Veterans have their own experiences, their own education, their own skills they develop, so treat it like any other candidate. There shouldn't be any bias. Be willing to work with them and help them transition, and understand that they are transitioning out of the military. If you hire them, make sure you are flexible, like with the Veterans Administration. We talked about the Veterans Administration health appointments that you don't want to cancel because it could bump you a month or two months. Just make sure that as a supervisor and manager, when you hire a veteran, you're flexible with their schedule.
And that you understand that just like any person, any employee, they're a human being. Mayo is important. What we do here is important. But obviously, work/life balance is important, and so are mental health and physical health. So, making sure that not just civilians, but our military members who are employees here are taken care of in that regard. I want to make sure that you have time to go to your different appointments just like anybody else in our department needs to go to the doctor.
Andrade: Something that I will advise veterans, is to be open. Do your research. If you're still in the military, keep your team and your leadership in the military informed. I would tell veterans who are thinking of applying or are active duty right now, or retiree reserves, that they can do it. That there's help, whether it's the Veterans Administration, your leadership, and it's also organizations like Mayo. Don't be afraid to ask questions and ask for help.
And remember you're not alone. There are people and organizations out there like Mayo that really embrace our veterans, and they want us to succeed. Trust me, you are not just giving a job to a person. You are also giving hope, and that's something that you cannot put a value on.
Narrator: What ideas do you have to create a welcoming culture for veterans? Share them with your team and supervisor.