From Military Service to the IT Frontier
In joining the armed forces, you become many things: a protector, a defender, someone with a strong sense of duty, responsibility, and unity. Whether you are a soldier, marine, airman, or sailor, these things remain true for each. You have chosen a long, worn, and weary road that has been trodden by countless others before you, but still just as rough and tough as it had been for all the trailblazers guiding you now.
This path is a giant. It is the weight of a nation, and these veterans have chosen to carry this upon their shoulders while so many others find the task alone to be far too daunting. Still, they’ve chosen to stand up and fight for us. Heroes. That is what they are.
However, military service doesn’t last forever. Reports have stated that every year around 200,000 men and women leave military service and return to their lives as civilians. To make that call takes just about as much courage and conviction as it takes for someone to have joined the armed forces in the first place. Some veterans don’t even get the choice. Yet every one of them still has the fight left in them to face this monstrous new path riddled with uncertainty and new struggles for them to face.
Transitioning from military service into civilian life can feel foreign to many veterans leaving the armed forces. That alone poses great challenges mentally and emotionally for these men and women who have fought for us. Reconnecting with the people we leave behind while serving, no longer having to worry about the next sortie, or if you’ll even make it back home, these are just a few things these veterans face. Just like anyone else, however, they also must worry about finding work; and finding work in a world that has been evolving for so long without you is sometimes one of the greatest challenges a person can face.
Fortunately, while civilian life may be greatly unfamiliar to these vets, there is a sector that holds promise for veterans seeking a new mission amidst this brave, unfamiliar world: the Information Technology (IT) Industry. Take a leap with us as we delve into the obstacles veterans may encounter during their transition into civilian life and how the IT Industry can be a beacon of opportunity.
Bridging the Gap
Just with anything, do it enough times and the routine will at some point become natural for you. Donning that uniform, training tirelessly to protect your comrades and countrymen, suddenly none of what you’re so used to doing is necessary for your life. Suddenly, it is no longer a routine. Like the rug has been ripped right out from beneath your feet. You struggle to stand on your own, but while it may seem difficult, the things you do take with you remain a part of you.
It is important that you recognize that you’ve acquired a font of skills throughout your military career and that these skills are key to helping any vet navigate the world beyond their service. Though it may have seemed like uncharted terrain at first, once you recognize this, you’re one step closer to adapting to the civilian life that seemed ever dauntingly unfamiliar to you moments before. Considering the IT industry, skills like discipline, teamwork, adaptability, and critical thinking in the face of adversity and challenges are integral to success. Fortunately for veterans, such should have been woven directly into the threads of their experiences as a part of the armed forces.
Looking into the skill expectations of the IT industry, you’ll find that military specialties tend to translate seamlessly into key roles. Strategic and meticulous planning has a great place in IT project management. You can translate strategic planning skills into fields like objective setting, risk management, resource allocation, and time management to name just a few branches it reaches. In many fields, such skills are integral to their infrastructure and how a company develops.
The military is accustomed to dealing with high-stakes scenarios and complex risks. IT projects also tend to face various risks including technical challenges, scope creep, and budget constraints. By utilizing the methodology of military strategic planning for IT projects, you would be able to mitigate risk and minimize potential negative impacts on a project. In IT resources aren’t always abundant. Budgets have limits, you may only have a certain number of people to cooperate with on your staff, and technology might not always be available to everyone. So, resource allocation is deeply integral. In the military, resource allocation is even more important. Since a slip-up can result in casualties. Properly managing your personnel, equipment, and logistics is a skill that bolsters efficiency and can vastly improve the production of IT projects.
Of course, effective communication and coordination are essential for both military and IT projects. Military units rely on clear communication to coordinate actions and adapt to changing situations. IT projects involve collaboration between various teams and stakeholders, making effective communication crucial for aligning efforts. As a veteran entering the field of IT, your ability to work cohesively in a high-pressure environment and collaboratively with others is a powerful skill to have in software development.
Recognizing and harnessing these transferable skills is pivotal. Veterans can draw upon their innate abilities to excel in IT, embracing the transition as an opportunity to leverage their strengths in new and impactful ways.
A Bridge to the Civilian Realm
Consider what it was like to be a part of a unit. What it meant to work beside others like you who have chosen to live, fight, and try their best for their country with their lives on the line. A community is formed. Because out there, the only people you can trust are the people with you going through the same thing. Camaraderie is found. Then, you step out into the life you left behind all those years ago. Suddenly, that feeling isn’t in your everyday life anymore. Transitioning into the life of a civilian might impose a feeling of isolation within you as a veteran. However, building a network with like-minded individuals who have successfully navigated similar transitions can help overcome those feelings. Networking is a critical step in bridging the gap into your new civilian life.
Networking provides a veteran with great opportunities to connect with a community. Especially a community that understands the struggles they’ve been through, the things they’ve fought for, and the values they’ve carried with them through their years of service. By networking, you are building a support network to provide a similar sense of camaraderie as when you were still in service. Additionally, it helps to provide emotional support and a sense of belonging.
In the scope of work, networking provides veterans with opportunities. Allowing them to tap into a variety of job opportunities that may not always be publicly advertised. Connecting with others provides an opportunity to reach out and gain referrals and recommendations to improve a veteran’s odds of finding work as a civilian. It also helps guide veterans. Connecting with other veterans who have transitioned successfully from military life to a civilian career can serve as a mentor to help guide your way to do the same; sharing their experiences with you and offering advice where you may need it.
Networking with civilian job contacts is typically one of the most difficult hurdles veterans face when transitioning into civilian life. However, there are many associations, industry events, and online platforms in the IT industry that can help provide avenues for veterans to expand their network. Taking advantage of these opportunities will provide veterans a chance to find opportunities and insights that will help give them security in their lives as civilians.
Charting a New Course
Amidst the jungle that is civilian life, new paths are always opening before us. The modern job market is a battle all on its own. In our current society, technology is always changing and ever-advancing. As a result, it is difficult to find work amidst all the competition. However, because technology is always evolving this also means that new jobs are always popping up, new roles beckoning to veterans seeking their next mission on a different battlefield. To name just a few roles available in the field, you’ll find the likes of software development, data analysis, cybersecurity, and IT Project management. The growth potential and job security in the field are unparalleled, making it an ideal destination for veterans seeking purpose and stability.
The digital age has propelled the demand for IT experts, shaping a landscape where technology is ubiquitous. As veterans embark on their journey into the IT sector, they step into roles that contribute directly to innovation, shaping the digital future of industries across the spectrum.
Navigating the Transition
It can be terrifying. Stepping into a world unfamiliar to you, a world that has changed so much without you. However, while this world is always changing, so are we as people. Veterans should understand this more than anyone. With the courage it takes to face adversity and the bravery to adapt to the challenges that surround them. Transitioning from military service to civilian life is just one more challenge to face. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available to veterans to help them make that transition.
Education and upskilling are central to this transformation. Online learning platforms offer courses and certifications that equip veterans with the technical prowess required in the IT sector. Armed with these credentials, veterans can confidently present themselves as capable candidates to potential employers.
The Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA) is a 17-week-long technical training program by Microsoft that encourages transitioning service members and veterans to learn. The program is a course that trains and teaches you critical technical and career skills essential for any industry working with technology.
Onward to Opportunity (O2O) is another fantastic option available to any active-duty service members and U.S. Veterans who have decided to transition into civilian life. Like the MSSA, O2O is a training program that helps veterans earn professional certifications and job placements in over 30 industries to better help them transition into civilian life.
These are just some of the options available to veterans in their journey into civilian life. VetsinTech, the Veteran Employment Center; there are also websites like Coursera and LinkedIn Learning to help. These resources are out there, catering to veterans and ensuring they present their experiences effectively and aid them in navigating this new life they’ve chosen.
The Voice of Veterans in IT
The stories of veterans who have triumphed in the IT sector serve as a source of inspiration. These personal accounts shed light on the challenges veterans overcame, the strategies they employed, and the profound influence their military background exerted on their IT careers.
In a blog post by Alexis Blakes, she spoke about how the skills she learned in the military have helped her in the tech industry. She spoke about how skills like discipline, leadership, teamwork, and consistency have followed her into her new life working in the tech industry. How these skills translate into the field.
These narratives underscore the importance of skill transition and networking. They highlight how veterans leveraged their unique perspectives to excel in IT, applying their problem-solving prowess, adaptability, and leadership to forge impactful careers.
Overcoming the Challenges
The path to an IT career may be strewn with challenges, but these obstacles are surmountable. Veterans may encounter a gap in their technological skills, industry unfamiliarity, or concerns related to age. However, these hurdles can be addressed.
Continuous learning remains a cornerstone of success in the IT realm. Veterans can acquire new skills through courses, certifications, and workshops. Mentorship programs connect veterans with experienced professionals who guide them through the complexities of the IT field. Embracing the learning curve and remaining open to growth is pivotal in conquering initial challenges.
A New Chapter Beckons
In the transition from military service to civilian life, veterans embark on a remarkable journey of transformation. The IT industry, with its myriad opportunities, beckons as an avenue of growth, purpose, and impact. Through skill transition, networking, and the abundance of resources available, veterans can navigate this transition with confidence.
As veterans make their mark in the IT sector, they not only secure fulfilling careers but also contribute to an industry that shapes the future. The journey from military service to the IT frontier is not just a transition; it's a mission to redefine one's purpose and continue a legacy of service in a new, innovative landscape.
- About O2O - D'Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families (syracuse.edu)
- Getting military veterans jobs in IT and cybersecurity | ZDNET
- Google IT Support Professional Certificate | Coursera
- How Being a Veteran Has Helped Me in the Tech Field | U.S. Veterans Magazine (usveteransmagazine.com)
- How Veterans Can Transition Into Careers in Tech | The Muse
- Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA) - Microsoft Military Affairs
- Military Transition To Civilian Life: A Guide for Veterans (militarytimes.com)
- O*NET 27.3 Database at O*NET Resource Center (onetcenter.org)
- Veterans Transitioning to Civilian Life | REE Medical
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