Hire a vet? IT Says Yes

Highly skilled, highly disciplined and highly adaptive, veterans are showing their mettle on IT staffs nationwide.

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It can take as long as six months to readjust to corporate life, he says. "In the military, you have a very clear objective -- go take the hill by this or that time," Norton explains. "In most cases, you can't slip that deliverable without harm to life and limb. Compared to that, in the private sector, there's a different prioritization, or what might to a solider even feel like a lack of prioritization."

In fact, businesses would do well to adopt some of the military's ability to focus. "I would think it would be real attractive to employers to have someone on their team who can get away from ambiguity," Brown says.

Laura Rawlings

Military experience: U.S. Army, 2004-2007, captain. Began her career working on the Patriot missile system; later became an information systems manager for the Army's NIPRNet and SIPRNet (a.k.a. the Department of Defense's "nippernet" and "sippernet"); served in Texas, Georgia and Korea, among other locales. Civilian role: Security consultant, enterprise information security, at Humana, Louisville, Ky.

Everything Laura Rawlings knows about technology, she picked up in the Army. Rawlings, who studied biology and biochemistry in college, worked first in the Army on the Patriot missile system -- "which is very high-tech; there are a lot of computer skills involved," she points out -- and then leaped at an opportunity to specialize in network security.

She won early acceptance into the FA 53 officers' program, the military's version of information systems management. That was a big achievement, she says, because "usually they pick more senior people."

Unlike some other military positions, FA 53 incorporates computer-industry tech and security certifications from Microsoft, Cisco and the CISSP, among others, alongside its military requirements. That combination left Rawlings in good stead when she was discharged and was ready to start looking for civilian employment.

Still, she found the process of translating her skills into business-speak daunting. "Putting together my resume was nerve-racking," she says. "I felt like I was bragging" -- a common problem among ex-military personnel trained to credit team accomplishments over individual achievements -- "and it was difficult to exactly explain what I had done in the military."

Rawlings had expertise in networking, but the military networks she worked on have many more components than civilian systems. Among other things, they might incorporate technology called Blue Force Tracking, a GPS-based system for identifying forces in the field. "It was hard to make all these other devices I was working with sound applicable" in a civilian setting, Rawlings says.

But she succeeded, receiving an offer from Humana shortly after she separated from the Army. She is currently part of a team that provides security consulting services to business unit leaders. "When they have a business function that needs to happen, we make sure they achieve their goals securely," she explains.

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