Silicon Valley likes veterans. Or at least some of the biggest tech companies do. They appreciate veterans not just for their technical or administrative skills, but also basic habits like just showing up to work on time.
“Compared to non-veterans, veterans have the combination of technical, operational and analytical background and experiences coupled with a high level of maturity, leadership and followership that most civilian college new grads do not possess,” said David Cross, a senior vice president at software company Oracle who served in the US Navy and the Army Reserve.
In particular, veterans are well-suited for fast-moving or crisis situations that often occur in information technology (IT).
“With the rapid transformation to Cloud services and applications, veterans are uniquely skilled and experienced in how to operate, respond and lead in high spaced, tense and stressed environments, which can often encounter events requiring incident commander leadership and poise,” Cross said.
Chip-maker Intel has hired across from a variety of military specialties, from infantry and finance, to cybersecurity and pilots.
“Approximately 80 percent of our veterans are in our manufacturing, supply chain and operations, and technology development organizations, which are the core of Intel’s business,” said Gisele Bonitz, a retired Navy captain who is now Intel’s director of risk and controls for data centers and AI, and co-chair of Intel’s Veteran Leadership Council.
Veterans don’t have to restrict themselves to technology positions at technology companies. Even the most tech-driven company still needs employees in infrastructure, support and other roles to ensure that the company is operating efficiently.
“Most think about Intel for technical positions, where those coming from technical fields like damage control, electronics tech, communications, computers, cyber security are a great match,” said Chris Tobias, a former Air Force command and control officer who is now an Intel general manager for sales and marketing, and co-chair of the company’s veterans council. “However, we also have positions in contracting, supply, human resources, and construction where we’ve seen just about every military career field have success.”
Cross noted that veterans are often hired based on their “transferable skills,” and then trained for a specific position in a company. “For example, veterans at Oracle are brought on board as program managers, then transition to technical program managers in a short amount of time. Another example is a veteran who interned as a software developer, which is a specialty that the military is not readily known for producing, and was then offered a full-time role as a software engineer.”
Oracle is a member of DoD’s Skillbridge program, which sponsors private sector internships for veterans. Meta – the parent company of Facebook – runs a Veterans Engineering Program that offers a paid 12-month career development program for veterans and their spouses with a background in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science or supply chains.
“Veterans are not only users of technological advancements, but also consumers, which give them a unique perspective to business, and a global outlook to any organization,” said Wil Williamson, who manages Meta’s veteran recruiting program.
Big tech companies suggest veterans identify what commercial jobs they want prior to separation, and then obtain any necessary training and certification before they should leave the service. They should also tailor their resumes to the position that they’re applying for, including specifically linking their skills and experience to the job in question. For example, “you can say ‘I designed the IT infrastructure for a $1 billion command center delivered $5 million under budget and three months ahead of schedule, and being recognized as the Department of Defense’s most effective facility,’” Bonitz said. “Rather than just saying, ‘responsible for the IT design of a command center.’
“They should get comfortable with the interview process and explain, without acronyms, how their accomplishments in the military would support the role they are interested in,” Bonitz said.