Authors: Lee Kirby & Dr. Destinee Prete
You can’t judge a book by its cover but so often, civilian employers try to judge the military community by all kinds of inaccurate perceptions. Many members use the same false premises as they look for new careers. Though well-intended, a common mistake is trying to judge a veteran by their military specialty (Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC), Rating). While this occupational code was relevant to their specific positions and ranks in the military, the cross-translation of these occupational codes is not fully correlated to the civilian workforce because it is myopic in its conclusions. With the best of intentions, a lot of work went into developing an easy-to-use cross-reference military specialties to civilian occupations tools. You can find them easily with an internet search; the notion was that it would be easy to use and handy to guide veterans and employers. Unfortunately, that did not happen. More often than not, the veteran is misguided down a narrow channel and the toolkits do not consider all the supporting tasks and follow-on competencies that our military-connected communities exhibit, including transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses. The tools do not consider some of the most valuable characteristics of the military community, which, just to name a few, are critical thinking, problem-solving, planning and adaptability. These are foundational skills and the supporting tasks in those specialties such as equipment maintenance, project management and operations management are easily transferred to civilian roles but overlooked.
At Salute Mission Critical, we strive to educate the civilian sector to look beyond the specialty. We also need veterans to understand the value of their experience goes beyond their specialty. Additionally, We2AreVets, a nonprofit focused on the honor, empowerment and recognition of women veterans is on a mission to get more women veterans into fields that are often under-represented. Women veterans are among our fastest-growing veteran demographic and are anticipated to double in size over the next decade. Even so, they are still under-employed and under-represented across all fields and industries. Together, Salute Mission Critical and We2AreVets aim to collaborate, build foundational partnerships and be able to get more veterans, military spouses, and women veterans into mission-critical jobs.
Let’s look at some examples and how it applies to all branches.
If you are a veteran and served in the Infantry, cook or as a water purification specialist and you use the MOS translator, you will find a job but I doubt you will find a career that could eventually lead to the chief executive office of a company. You have been equipped with more than just a technical code, you have been trained and skilled in ways that aren’t often captured in the civilian workforce, but yet, are highly sought after. If you are a military spouse, you have developed skills as a natural consequence that are valuable in the civilian sector and go beyond any education and experience you may have accumulated. Did you know that with the skills you have gained in your military experiences, you can have a career in the data center industry! Not only are the careers in this field rewarding but they can be fulfilling financially and professionally, especially if you enjoy learning and growing in a career that is the underlying foundation to connectivity across the globe. In the data center industry, career opportunities are endless. Some job options include:
- Project Manager
- Data Center Technician
- Human Resources
- Business Operations
- Technical Operations
- Workforce Development
- Client Services
- Health & Safety
Digital Infrastructure is a collection of data center locations that deliver electronic services to people and machines. Data Centers are real estate locations that house IT equipment to process, store and transmit data. Therefore, every app you use on your phone uses a matrix of data centers to respond to you and there are thousands of unfilled job openings in the industry that are perfect for veterans and military spouses who enjoy a rapidly growing and changing industry that is the foundation of the new digital world.
If you were in the Infantry
If you rely on a MOS translator, you will be directed towards either security focused or generic warehouse type jobs. Consider that in order to move, shoot and communicate in the Infantry, you have to maintain your vehicle, communication system and weapon systems. You follow preventative maintenance checks and services (PMCS) on a routine basis to ensure you are doing it correctly and per the recommended schedule. When you read the job description for Data Center Technicians, you see the same skills; just different equipment. You can be trained to apply the same disciplined maintenance and skills to data center equipment. It is not just the Infantry though because these skills are shared by all soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who have performed the same support functions especially prior enlisted and non-commissioned officers.
If you were a Military Cook
If you rely on a MOS translator, you will be directed toward food services and if that is what you want to do, that is great. However, if you look beyond the specialty, you will see a person who has to plan to feed hundreds of people three times a day, in all kinds of environments (chow hall to the back of a truck) and to meet strict health and safety standards. The skills required to plan and execute these operations are the exact skills needed in the technology sector to be a project manager. You can be trained to apply the same skills to projects in the data center industry. It is not just the cooks though because these skills are shared by all non-commissioned officers and officers who plan and execute complex operations.
If you were a Water Purification Specialist
If you rely on a MOS translator, you will be directed down a path that usually ends up in a water and sewage department. However, did you know that water is a critical component of cooling data centers in the data center industry? There is an enormous need for people who understand how to treat water to ensure cooling and efficiency in the data center. With your skills, you could be part of a data center team that ensures maximum efficiency and performance of its cooling infrastructure. You can be trained to apply the same skills to key functions in the data center industry. It is not just a water specialist but all the specialties required to support base functions such as power, cooling, telecommunications, mechanics (from generators to aircraft).
To a Woman Veteran
When most people think about data centers and the associated tasks, women veterans are not often the first demographic that comes to mind. But the real question is why not? Women veterans, along with their male counterparts, are some of the most skilled, equipped, and untapped talent pool that exists in our veteran community. Your military experiences are worthy and should be showcased in opportunities in the civilian workforce. Statistics show that many women veterans struggle to promote themselves in the way the corporate world values and many do not even self-identify as a veteran due to the challenges they are faced with. Consider the data center industry, specifically mission-critical jobs, consider yourself, along with other veterans, to be the most qualified candidates. Your service is valued and recognized. Many of you have juggled multiple roles inside and outside of the uniform. Your abilities to be adaptable, flexible and part of a team are truly unmatched. You can be trained to be part of a data center team that can leverage the skills and expertise you are best at.
To a Military Spouse
If you worked outside of the home, you know the challenges of sustaining a career within a given profession during multiple geographic relocations. Your ability to adapt and integrate into an environment and culture is a strength that smart employers value. As you grow in your career, you can easily adapt to new assignments and promotions, leveraging your experience to everyone’s benefit. Suppose you did not work outside the home. In that case, that is still positive because all military spouses have mastered skills that are valuable and have quickly learned the fundamental elements of making quick decisions with military precision, working hard without losing focus because of external pressure, planning for future potential disruptions and smoothly pivoting in times of need. Each time your spouse deployed, you had to make a one-year plan that nested within a lifelong plan if the worst happened and your spouse did not return. During deployment, spouses took on all the responsibility and ran the household on a constrained budget. Following deployment, your spouse transitioned back into the partnership and re-established normality. This experience honed your contingency planning skills, project management and operations management. For example, more than half of all IT projects fail and the number that runs over budget is even worse. In that scenario, military spouses are a natural fit in an industry that needs this kind of leadership. You bring a wealth of experience that any employer who wants projects/operations planned and executed with military precision can be immediately leveraged.
Start a Rewarding Career in Technology
A rewarding career can start as a technician and grow in the technology sector through a career to the highest levels. College degrees are not required to have a rewarding career in the data center industry. Both veterans and military spouses have had to adapt and operate in a manner that has driven mission success in extreme circumstances with high emotions. These strengths are often overlooked but are needed in data centers to provide a successful formula for career growth and opportunities. Look beyond your MOS and apply all of your experience to your career search. Know yourself and what you would like to do because your skills will allow you to do far more than you may realize and way more than any translator tool will offer. If you or your spouse serve or have served in the military and are looking to take your career to the next level, check out our job board. Whether you have no data center experience or are a seasoned expert, you have a career path at Salute. Our range of service offerings allows junior team members exposure to multiple data center careers paths. While training alongside experienced technicians and growing your knowledge sets, you are empowered to develop your own journey. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have about the process. Also, if you are looking to learn more about the industry as a whole, check out some resources to see if the industry is the right fit for you.