Riton is a participating organization in the DoD Skillbridge Internship Program that provides active-duty service members an opportunity to acquire practical job skills with hands on training. The purpose of the program is to give the service member a functional and pragmatic transition into the civilian workforce.
Organizations that are DoD approved can participate in the program. Service members can apply for a variety of internships and apprenticeships and participate in their last 180 days of service. In July 2021, I applied to be an intern at Riton Optics, America’s only veteran and law enforcement owned optics company headquartered in Tucson, AZ. After submitting my application highlighting my various roles served throughout my 6 years of service in the Army, I had my first of two interviews. Riton’s Director of Operations, Dave Franklin, gave me a brief history of Riton Optics then walked me through their day-to-day operations and what skills they have on their team. I was then asked to elaborate on the experience I gained throughout my time in the military and what I was looking for in my internship experience. By the second interview, we determined that it would be a good match. I was fortunate to have a command team in the Army that puts people first and supported my efforts to participate in the DoD Skillbridge Internship Program.
The Riton plan for DoD Skillbridge Interns provides a holistic approach to the business by allowing interns an opportunity to be a part of every aspect of their operations. After being given a tour of the offices, the warehouse, and meeting the Riton team on my first day, I was given a space in their operations department. I watched as orders came in for different scopes, red dots, binoculars, and apparel. Before being put in the driver’s seat, I was able to learn how to process orders, create invoices, and bill customers.
The Riton operations manager trained me and watched as I processed orders that came in during a busy season as we approached the holidays. Following operations, I moved to the quality control department. Riton inspects every product it before it ships, and I participated in the process while being supervised. Next, I went to learn about shipping and receiving operations. The warehouse manager taught me the skills needed not just to prepare products for shipment but also the documentation required to ship materials both nationally and internationally. After warehouse operations, I moved to the marketing department. I sat in on meetings with their remote staff and introduced myself to everyone. While in marketing, I was taught how to update product descriptions on their website, I assisted in photoshoots that promoted their product, helped in their seasonal marketing campaigns, and was given an opportunity to write blogs about their news and events.
Brady and his wife Carrie Speth, founders of Riton Optics, have established an atmosphere that promotes productivity, creativity, and cohesiveness. I immediately felt part of the family. The Riton team is comprised of fellow veterans and supporters of the military and law enforcement. I never felt like the stereotypical intern that does coffee runs and takes out the garbage. They treated me like one of their own from day one.
The DoD Skillbridge Internship Program with Riton Optics has been a great opportunity full of insight. There are a variety of opportunities available for service members transitioning to the civilian workforce and I encourage everyone leaving the service to explore their options and consider what aligns with your goals in the civilian workforce.