In this blog series, we’re sharing stories of veterans who made successful transitions into IT careers, with a boost from our IT-Ready program. Want to learn more? Visit our IT-Ready profile post.
“If you fight for freedom in another land, you shouldn’t have to come home and fight for a job.”
These are the words that resonated with Michael Dauffenbach, a National Guardsman from Lexington, Minnesota, who happened to hear them while on an invited visit to the White House, during President Barack Obama’s second term in office. Dauffenbach was part of then-First Lady Michelle Obama’s efforts to help veterans leaving active duty secure better civilian employment.
“[Our veterans] do everything. They are medics and engineers, they’re drivers, welders. And they are eminently qualified to do the very jobs that employers across this country are desperate to fill. But too often, because of red tape, or outdated rules, or simple lack of coordination, our men and women in uniform come home only to find that the training and experience they’ve gotten during their time in uniform simply doesn’t count.” – Michelle Obama
At Creating IT Futures, we featured Dauffenbach’s trip to D.C. on our blog. We are interested in his story because we hear stories like it all the time, and we, too, are doing our best to connect veterans looking for their next career with employers who need qualified people interested in working with technology.
To help address this issue, Creating IT Futures, a tech workforce charity founded by CompTIA, launched IT-Ready, a free tech training program for adults in transition. We believe a fantastic way to help fill the tech skills gap is providing groups currently under-represented in technology fields—such as women, people of color and veterans—with more opportunities to learn IT career skills.
Dauffenbach was working on his associate degree in technology when his unit was called up to serve in Iraq in 2011. After spending a year as an infantryman helping escort convoys into Kuwait, Dauffenbach returned stateside in early 2012 wondering about his next move. He enrolled in school again, but worried about having the necessary on-the-job experience that would land him a permanent IT position.
Dauffenbach was one of our first IT-Ready graduates in fall 2012 and started his tech career at Medtronic, as a full-time associate tech on the company’s support desk, resolving IT problems for the company’s 30,000 employees.
He’s steadily risen through the ranks of IT responsibility at Medtronic—working first on its help desk to support end-users, then supporting field sales representatives, and then becoming the mobility expert for the help desk before being hired into the corporate IT management group.
If you are thinking of making the change into IT, Dauffenbach emphasizes the importance of “people skills” alongside tech prowess.
“IT knowledge can be learned by anyone, but the skills that carried me this far have been the soft skills IT-Ready promotes,” he said. “Without soft skills, interviews and everyday interactions with end-users over the phone or in person would be much harder. I do not hesitate to say soft skills are a requirement alongside technical skills.”
Are you ready for a career change? Consider working in IT. Learn more by visiting itready.com. Follow this blog as we share more stories of veterans who have graduated from IT-Ready and continued to exciting tech careers.
Charles Eaton leads three philanthropic endeavors for CompTIA, the world’s largest IT trade association: Executive Vice President of Social Innovation; CEO of Creating IT Futures; and, NextUp, the organization’s initiative to inspire young people to choose technology careers. The second edition of his book, How to Launch Your Teen’s Career in Technology: A Parent’s Guide to the T in STEM Education, in English and Spanish versions will be available June 2018.