Finding IT Jobs for Military Veterans Can Be Tough. Here’s How One Navy Veteran Found Success
Finding IT jobs for military veterans, even when they have strong relevant experience, isn’t always easy. It certainly wasn’t for Brittian McIntosh.
For six years, Brittian handled communications for the U.S. Navy. A petty officer, he led a team of personnel responsible for corrective and preventative maintenance on antennas and their associated UHF systems and computers.
He could troubleshoot and repair more than 40 different VHF, UHF and EHF systems. Having both Secret and Top Secret clearances to work on encrypted systems, Brittian was chosen to assist Navy SEALS by setting up private communications between his ship and the rigid hull inflatable boats they used in stealth operations.
In short, he knew his stuff.
“The training I got through the Navy took two full years to complete and is comparable to earning a master’s degree in electronic engineering,” he said. “And I always got great marks in my performance evaluations.”
So when Brittian exited the Navy with an honorable discharge, management experience, communications expertise, Top Secret clearance, and stellar performance reviews, he expected that his transition into a civilian career would be a smooth one.
IT Jobs for military veterans: A tough transition
For starters, Brittian learned that his broad knowledge of electronics didn’t readily apply to tech job opportunities — or, at least, potential employers didn’t think it did.
He finally found work as a field service engineer for a medical imaging company, where he was responsible for maintaining and repairing a network of four types of MRI systems. During his nine months on the job, he responded to more than 100 trouble calls and ensured that his network operated at 98-percent operational reliability, saving customers nearly half a million dollars.
Then new management came into his organization and, in a scorched earth manner, laid off everybody who worked there.
Brittian’s sudden unemployment marked the start of a bleak period in his life.
Life goes from bad to worse
“My girlfriend and I had moved states thinking our lives were going to be great, and nine months in, I lost my job, I lost my best friend in a car accident, and then my Dad passed,” he said. “It felt like, where is my life going? I was floundering and I really didn’t know how to deal with it.”
During the next seven months, Brittian submitted hundreds of resumes and cover letters to companies posting job vacancies. He received two phone calls from employers — and didn’t get those jobs.
“I couldn’t figure it out. I was smart. I had all this training, all these skills I could bring to civilian management. I knew I could step in, work hard, teach myself, but I wasn’t hearing back,” he said. “Everyone looks at you like you’re a crappy person for being unemployed. I felt like garbage.”
Brittian tried enrolling in a local community college. By that time, the high-school diploma and college credits he earned prior to enlisting in the Navy were 10 years old, and the community college wanted him to start from scratch.
“Teachers were assigning me worksheets,” he said. “In the military, I was responsible for a team of electronics experts whose work literally meant the difference between life and death. The worksheets felt a little…ridiculous.”
Finding opportunity with CompTIA Tech
It was then that Brittian revisited the Indeed website to look for new job opportunities. He found an advertisement for IT-Ready Technical Support, applied, and was admitted.
While Brittian learned the technical skills needed to secure a job within the Information Technology industry, he says the program helped him even more by restoring his confidence.
“During my time of unemployment, I really became rather jaded; I didn’t feel like the person I knew I was,” he said. “The most important thing IT-Ready did for me was help me believe in me again. The folks there chose me from a pool of applicants and had nothing but kind and encouraging words to say to me. It helped me build me back up again.”
Upon earning his CompTIA A+ certification, Brittian secured a position as IT Specialist Mid with ACI Federal™ in Lexington Park, Md., where he works as a contractor at Patuxent River Naval Air Station. ACI Federal is an award-winning, multiple ISO-certified public-services contractor focused on IT, health care and national security initiatives.
The week before he started work, Brittian said, he had negative $42 in his checking account. Now, he’s earning a respectable salary and working on earning his CompTIA Security+ certification. He sees himself pursuing a long-term career in IT in the field of cybersecurity.
“Knowing how my mind operates, security would allow me to use my mind in a fun way so that work doesn’t seem like work,” he said.
For now, he loves the work he’s doing for ACI Federal at the naval air station and is enjoying settling into a life no longer fraught with financial worries.
“This already is the most rewarding job I’ve ever had,” he said. “It’s just a miraculous turn of events and I have IT-Ready to thank for all of it. I am really grateful."
Struggling to find your footing in a civilian role? Find out how CompTIA Tech Career Academy can help you get started on a promising career in tech.