Derek Heinzelman

Madison Area Technical College


Area of Study: Fire Protection Technician Associate degree program
Military Branch: United States Air Force 
Highest Pay Grade: E-6 or Technical Sergeant
MOS: Integrated Avionics Systems Craftmans

Roles and responsibilities of last position in the military:
Performed aircraft maintenance, training, and supervision on C-17 aircraft, along with serving
as a flying crew chief to deployed locations. Duties consisted of installing, modifying,
maintaining, troubleshooting and isolating malfunctions on aircraft avionics systems.

What was the biggest transition headache?
The biggest transition headache for me was the lack of clarity on what benefits I was eligible for
and the long wait at times after applying for those benefits.

What skills did you bring with you?
To be responsible for my actions and to be accountable to not only others but also myself.

How will you leverage your military experience into your next career?
One of the more valuable skills I feel I can apply from my military experience into my next
career is my understanding of the value of teamwork and the ability to apply it daily. My goal is
to advance my career and become a better firefighter.

What made you choose Madison College?
I chose Madison College because of the helpful staff and great support network they have for
Veterans. The flexibility to take classes both in the classroom and online was also a factor. The
instructors work in the industry and have a ton of real-world knowledge and wisdom to share.

What has been your experience with online classes? How many have you taken?
My experience with online classes has been positive. I had already completed a degree mostly
online at another institution while I was in the military, so the format and layout of the online
classes was familiar to me. I’ve enjoyed the online courses here because the material is relevant
to what I experience daily out in the field.

How did you research your options?
I researched my options both online, and by seeking out the advice and opinions of those
already in the line of work I was interested in pursuing.

What advice do you have for other transitioning veterans looking for a career after the
military?
Utilize the benefits you have earned! There are so many benefit options out there. Research
them and seek out what is best for you.