Hire a vet? IT Says Yes

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

1 2 3 4 Page 4
Page 4 of 4

The fit makes sense, though, he says. In the Navy, he gained experience working with the gas turbines that turn ships' propellers, for example. In his first three months at Siemens, he assessed markets for gas turbines in South America, looking at both economic fundamentals and technical requirements.

Culturally, Lamz is discovering what many a civilian IT employee already knows: In corporate settings, procedures aren't always clearly defined, and goals aren't always definitively set. That's a big change from the military, Lamz says, where "there's a structured procedure for everything from greasing a bearing to getting a haircut."

Nicholas Riggins

Military experience: U.S. Air Force, 2001-2008, traffic management officer in the Logistics troop; stationed at Andrews Air Force Base (home of Air Force One) and Cannon Air Force Base, Clovis, N.M.; supervised cargo-moving processes and personal-property-moving processes. Civilian role: Veterans vocational evaluator, Operation Independence at Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont, Charlotte, N.C. (a position funded by Microsoft).

After his 2008 discharge from the Air Force, Nicholas Riggins went to college to earn a dual MBA and master's degree in organizational leadership, but his technical knowledge all comes from the military. "I was raised in rural America. I didn't have access to the level of technology that I experienced in the Air Force," he says.

Like a lot of the veterans he now coaches at Goodwill Industries, in a position funded by Microsoft's Elevate America's Veterans initiative, Riggins wasn't at first aware of just how many of the tech skills he picked up during his service were applicable in business. "Intermediate SQL-type querying -- something we did all the time -- I had no idea how valuable it was," Riggins recalls. "Access, Excel, high-level database work and presentations -- those are valuable to employers."

Beyond tech expertise, veterans have "a personal desire to improve the organization they're working for." That doesn't apply just to officers, Riggins is quick to point out: "Every military person is trained this way."

Translating Military Skills Into Business Terms

The White House's hire-a-vet initiative features an array of services -- including Careers4Vets from AT&T, Elevate America's Veterans from Microsoft, and US Military Pipeline from Futures Inc. -- that help veterans translate their military job codes and skills into terms that can be understood by corporate recruiters.

The problem can be a big one. Chris Norton, the Army reservist and longtime AT&T employee, recalls once speaking with a young veteran at a job fair who described his experience as "served in the Navy, worked on Seahawk, honorably discharged, now in college." Only after Norton pressed him did the sailor share the kind of details that a hiring manager would find attractive: He had supervised a staff of 10 mechanics responsible for five helicopters that cost $20 million each, and he was then working toward a degree in applied mathematics at a well-respected college.

"There's a big difference there," Norton says. "You accrue some amazing attributes through your military service; you just can't always put a name on them."

This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

1 2 3 4 Page 4
Page 4 of 4
Bing’s AI chatbot came to work for me. I had to fire it.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon