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How a veteran went from growing up in the rough streets of Chicago to being a rising star at AWS.

A father, rapper, veteran and now Data Center Engineer. This is the story of a veteran who survived a life on the streets growing up in Chicago and prevailed by reaching his goals with the help of Salute Mission Critical, an IT and data center lifecycle services company that recruits, trains and transforms veterans into world-class data center technicians.

Chicago has one of the worst crime rates in the country. The city often records the highest total killings each year. The poverty, drugs and violence in certain communities in Chicago have led  to many deaths, leaving minorities enshrouded in a cycle of crime.

Perseverance Builds Tenacity

Antar Tidwell, a former member of the Armed Forces and current employee of AWS (Amazon Web Services) in Oregon, had a rough start in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago. His life became increasingly harder after losing his father at the young age of 7. To cope with the challenges of his life, he addressed his emotions through his musical talent and love for rapping. To break free from this cycle and ensure that any future family members would have a better start in life, Antar decided to join the military.  As a result of his experience serving his country, he was driven to change his life for the better by learning a new trade.

Military Transition Isn’t Easy

Unfortunately for Antar, the private sector world had other ideas. After his career in the military ended, he found it difficult to find a civilian job that would allow him to save money and work on establishing his financial freedom. As Antar says, “I found it to be very difficult to find a nice paying job after discharge. The biggest roadblock for me was learning that most jobs only wanted to start me off with minimum wage due to lack of time worked in that specific career field, or lack of a college degree.”

After doing some research online, Antar found a position at Salute Mission Critical. They were willing to train him in the data center industry – something he had never even heard of before. As he soon found out, data centers are vital to every aspect of our economy, from ecommerce, enterprise virtualization and cloud computing to streaming content, online gaming and other forms of entertainment. “Becoming a part of the Salute family gave me on-the-job experience towards familiarizing myself with everything that makes up the critical infrastructure that we all work in,” says Antar. “They gave me the broad understanding of the ins and outs of data center operations, which gave me a solid foundation to eventually go on to higher positions within the industry.” Best of all, the training and networking opportunities provided by Salute led him to forge relationships with Fortune 500 companies. Salute quickly saw Antar’s hard working attitude, tenacity and perseverance – all qualities that helped him rise through the ranks of the data center industry quickly.

From humble beginnings to DCEO

Fast forward to today and Antar is a DCEO (Data Center Engineering Operations)/EOT (Emergency Operations Technician). His work life often consists of operating, maintaining, and managing mission-critical facilities; managing new build and expansion projects; assisting with emergency response to high priority/critical incidents; performance troubleshooting; and so much more! He is now reaching his goals and living out his dreams as a successful businessman. Antar’s journey has inspired him to motivate others by sharing his story.

“It’s hard to say where I’ll be in another 10 years. Just like everyone else, I have my own personal hopes and dreams. The challenge, of course, is to stay motivated while being financially stable, and that’s a gift that Salute Mission Critical gave me – the opportunity to earn a good living and the self-esteem to pursue my goals on my own time. My philosophy for turning dreams into reality is to stay hungry mentally. You have to keep your mind focused on your goals and manage your finances wisely.” – Antar said.

Antar hopes that his rags-to-riches story reminds others that through grit, determination, and a helping hand, anyone can overcome their hardship, chase a dream, and achieve extraordinary success.

If you’re a veteran looking for an exciting career in a growing industry, contact us at Salute. We can help put you on the path to success.

If you’re looking to close the data center talent gap with individuals looking to bring military precision to their career, contact us at Salute. Employ the heroes of today, tomorrow.

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