Andrew Marsh, 25, prefers the difficult path. From majoring in computer science to serving as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, he does not shy away from a challenge. But starting a job search is an uphill battle for anyone entering the workforce today. With a little bit of research, he realized that certifications to back up his military IT experience would make the difference in getting a call back. The IT Training and Certification Program provided him with free, fast-paced training to obtain 3 essential certifications in just a few months.
Joining the civilian workforce can be daunting for military service members. Employers have a difficult time deciphering military experience and training, and often move on to candidates with familiar job titles or certifications.
Andrew joined the military in 2009, after graduating from Arkansas Technical University with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. “I had applied for jobs and all the jobs were going to push me into a cubicle,” he said.“ So, I decided to join the military and picked the hardest branch I could find: the Marines.”
After officer and technical training, Andrew was assigned to the 8th Communications Battalion, a unit of about 1200 Marine Corps communicators, as a Platoon Commander. He spent 2012 deployed to Camp Tombstone in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, where he served as an Afghan National Army Advisor to set up tactical communications for 16,000 Afghan Army soldiers throughout a 39,000-square-mile area.
In 2012 Andrew deployed to Camp Tombstone in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
When he started planning his post-military career, Andrew had a hard time translating his hands-on technical and leadership experience in the military into the specific skills to make recruiters pick up the phone.
The IT Training and Certification Program helped Andrew match his military service to IT careers and determine the certifications required for those jobs. Launched in April 2013 as part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to help military personnel transition to civilian employment, the program is fast tracking 1000 military personnel with IT experience to in-demand jobs by providing free and reduced-cost access to IT training and certification exams and career matching opportunities.
“In IT they want to see a decade of experience or certificates,” he said. “The certifications give your resume weight. I had 4 years experience in the Marine Corps and certifications they recognized. It was my way of proving to potential employers that I had the knowledge.”
He completed his profile on the US IT Pipeline and the system identified 3 relevant career paths for his skills plus the certifications he needed. He used Google to determine which certifications would have the most resonance in the marketplace. The program paid for up to 3 courses through Global Knowledge and other training vendors for Cisco CCNA, ITIL Foundations, and NetApp Certified Storage Associate (NCSA) certifications.
After two weeks of study, he took and passed the NCSA test: “I immediately emailed Mark Conway from NetApp and Liz Davis from Global Knowledge to thank both of them for making all of this possible,” he said. “Mark replied that I was the first to pass the test, though NOT the first to take it, and I was shocked and thrilled.” NetApp valued his skills and his help in validating their new certificate and exam program so much that they recommended Andrew for a position with a NetApp partner. He is now a storage and virtualization consultant, specializing in data center design and support projects with PGTEK.
Andrew recommends IT certification to all veterans looking to make themselves more attractive to civilian employers. He said: “So many [veterans] sell themselves short, because they do not have a way to validate their experience and apply for more advanced positions. If they had been able to articulate their skills to the potential employer, they would have a higher paying job that is a better fit to their skills.”
Andrew says IT certifications can help veterans get jobs by validating and articulating their skills for civilian employers.
The US IT Pipeline supports transitioning military personnel and the employers searching for their talents. Both job seekers and employers post their information for free, and have the opportunity to participate in hiring events to streamline the interview process. For those who need additional training for certification, Cisco Networking Academy courses are available on and near many military bases.