Sometimes after transitioning from military service to civilian life, veterans need a little help translating the unique skills they’ve acquired into new lines of work.
That was the case for Jonathan Parsons. For 10 years, Parsons served in the U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade as a signals intelligence analyst, intercepting and examining foreign communications, and relaying pertinent information to superiors for use in military strategy and operations.
His work demanded book and street smarts, and he found “catching the global bad guys” rewarding, personally and professionally. But the frequent, long-term deployments to some of the world’s most dangerous places wasn’t a good fit for the family life Parsons and his wife were creating.
After leaving the Army, Parsons had difficulty finding work that matched his skill level. He started working for a mobile phone carrier just to pay the bills and began looking for a new opportunity. He found IT-Ready, a program from Creating IT Futures that provides eight weeks of free classroom-based IT education and training. IT-Ready targets people typically under-represented in the tech industry, including displaced or underemployed workers, veterans, people of color and women.
Parsons was part of the first IT-Ready class in Charlotte, North Carolina (other cities include Minneapolis and Portland, OR). This year, Creating IT Futures will run the class four times in Charlotte and create a permanent home for the program in North Carolina.
During their training, students learn a wide range of hardware and software skills, including how to build a computer from parts, install new applications, troubleshoot problems, and set up and manage networks. IT-Ready participants also cover professional development skills, such as workplace etiquette, communication, customer service and job interviewing. At the end, students take the CompTIA A+ certification exam.
As part of the class, Parsons updated his LinkedIn account, which caught the attention of a recruiter from defense contractor Quick Services LLC. The job requirements included: Document and Media Exploitation (DOMEX) capabilities, (a hardware and software program that helps glean intelligence from enemy forces), a security clearance and CompTIA A+ certification. All three? Check.
Parsons applied and was offered the senior targeting analyst job at a salary he never would have earned selling mobile phones. Soon after, Parsons, his wife and their two-year-old son moved to Charlottesville, Va., for their fresh start.
“This is a very fulfilling work,” he said. “Most importantly, I have my family with me and I am providing for them in the way I want to.”
Are you ready for a career change? Consider working in IT. Learn more by visiting wwww.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.