We had Jared Mullane as a special guest during our Veterans in Tech episode for our Tech Series Podcast.
Jared is a former US Army Ranger and is well versed with the challenges Military Vets experience while transitioning to the civilian workforce. He’s currently a Program Connectivity Manager at Facebook, a role that he’s deeply passionate about. However, getting that position was not a smooth sailing journey.
A lot of veterans struggle to figure out what next steps to take and how to join the civilian workforce after they leave the army. Tech seems to be an intimidating field to join immediately after returning. And even once they join the tech world, it is common to experience imposter syndrome. During the show, Jared shared several tips that may help you, as a Vet, transition more easily to the civilian tech workforce.
1. Develop Your Skills While You are in the Army
There might be recurring problems or hindrances in the army that you could solve such as having to frequently write long reports. Taking the initiative to build a program to solve this issue will double as a project that can help you qualify for bootcamp or even get hired in the civilian workforce.
Depending on how much time you served, you could be eligible for complete funding of coding bootcamps by the GI Bill. Other payment options are Vet Tec, Vocational Rehab , deferred tuition program. Military.com has a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) concerning funding for Vets by the government which they have answered such as “Can I combine my Montgomery and Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits?”
3. Join a Network
To supplement the tools and training that you get from The Military Transition Assistance Program, look for a Veterans Network that you can join. Jared is part of a network at Facebook which has provided him with mentorship and people who could relate to his struggles.
Another way to gain a Veterans Network in the software industry is by joining a Coding Bootcamp, like Sabio, that prioritizes making the transition for Veterans to join tech easier. Therefore, there’s a high chance of you having fellow Vets as classmates and you’ll have access to the Sabio Vets alumni. You’ll feel more comfortable asking a fellow Vet and tech related questions.
The environment at coding bootcamps is a safe learning place for people seeking to change careers. Coding bootcamp classes tend to have a diverse group of students with varying ages and backgrounds. This may not be the case in undergrad at colleges and universities where student demographics tend to be younger.
Being part of a network helps you find out about job openings and gives you an upper hand in interviews if you were referred internally.
As a military veteran, you have transferable skills that are essential in most industries. The key to communicating the importance of your transferable military skills to a civilian, who does not have a military background, interviewing you is to answer “How Will Your Transferable Skills Benefit The Workspace?” on your resume. Take for example this scenario from the article, Veterans Are Good For Work, by Sally Spencer Thomas:
A good friend of mine, Charlie Shelby, a retired Army captain, shared his experience of trying to find post service employment with a well-known technology company.
Talent rep: "So, Mr. Shelby, what did you do while in the military?"
Mr. Shelby: "I worked in artillery."
Talent rep: "What does one do when they work in artillery?"
Mr. Shelby: "Well, you blow stuff up."
Talent rep: "Well we here at [well-known technology company] don't blow things up. Thank you for your service. Have a nice day."
Mr. Shelby did not get the job.
Get someone to help you write your Resume/CV in a way that it will be marketable in the civilian workforce.
5. Use LinkedIn to Prep for a Tech Role
You can reach out to people through LinkedIn who work in a company that you want to work at or are employed in a role that you want to apply for. Find out what skills you need to be hired for that position and acquire those skills. You can also use LinkedIn to find out about a company’s culture to know whether it’s a good fit for you.
6. Keep Learning and Asking Questions to Overcome Imposter Syndrome
One of the challenges Jared had to deal with, working in a tech workforce, was Imposter Syndrome. It is a very real and very common challenge. Jared felt lost and questioned whether he belonged. He contended with this by constantly learning, taking notes during meetings and following up with his colleagues when he didn’t understand something or didn’t know how to proceed.
7. Research for Interviews, Read Company Reports
“I would research online. Even before I would do interviews, I would read the quarterly earnings report if they're a public company. I would listen to the CEO or any of the C level leadership to find out what are the issues that they're thinking about? What are the things that are top of their mind?
And then you can ask better questions when you're actually going through the interview process itself and you distinguish yourself from other candidates as well.”
According to 2 articles by CNBC and The Wall Street Journal, the demand for tech workers is high but there is a shortage of tech workers available to fill those roles. This doesn’t mean that jobs will fall in your lap. You’ll have to put in the work to get them but tech jobs make up at least a third of the top 10 jobs in demand within the US.