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From Battlefield to the IT Field: My Story of Transition

This blog originally appeared on the HuffingtonPost

“We ask these men and women (veterans) to leave their families and their jobs and risk their lives to fight for our country. The last thing they should have to do is fight for a job when they get home.”

-President Obama

I can still remember the moment. I gazed out of my window at the beautifully lit Verrazano Bridge from my apartment in Brooklyn, N.Y. — one late evening in March 2003. A year and a half had passed since Sept. 11 and an address from President George W. Bush interjected the usual television programming. It was to announce the beginning of the war with Iraq.

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I enlisted into the military as soon as I could. While most high school seniors were applying to colleges all around the city, I headed to military recruiting offices. As part of a family that has served in the military since the Revolutionary War, it made sense why this was the only thing that felt right to me.

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Cisco Employee Honored as Military Veteran at the White House

There are certain things in life most would consider “once in a lifetime” occurrences.  The feeling that you get when your dad releases his grip one last time – and you find yourself riding a bicycle on your own; or waking up in amazement as you discover money from the tooth fairy under your pillow after losing your first tooth.

On November 4, 2008 – people all over the world witnessed a once in a lifetime moment when Barack and Michelle Obama won the race to the White House – becoming America’s first African American President and First Lady. It was only in my wildest dreams that I would ever have the pleasure to meet them both.

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Calling All Companies: Military Veterans Bring Dedication, Motivation, and Leadership

This blog was originally posted on the Huffington Post.

This week I had the privilege of attending an event at the White House where the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, and John Chambers, Chairman and CEO of Cisco, unveiled a new program to give returning military service members a fast track to the training and certifications needed for high-demand IT jobs.

Through the IT Training and Certification Program, transitioning military personnel with prior IT experience are being given access to IT training, certification, and career-matching opportunities to help fast-track their job search. Once selected through the Joining Forces Initiative, service members are invited to register on the U.S. IT Pipeline, a cloud-based talent exchange platform designed by Futures, Inc., with support from Cisco. Service members can explore careers, take a quick assessment, and choose from a selection of IT certifications, such as Cisco CCNA, most aligned to their interests. After completing the coursework and passing the certification exam provided by select IT training and exam partners, the Pipeline will then match their military experience and qualifications to qualifying high-demand, civilian IT job postings.

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CyberPatriot Program Showcases Future of Cybersecurity Workforce

DSC_0942_2March 14 – 15 marked the National Finals Competition of CyberPatriot, the largest high school cyber defense competition in the United States.

With students crowded around laptops, routers and clocks counting down, teams were given a business scenario. Told that they were newly hired IT professionals managing the network of a small company, they were given 12 virtual machines that they had to wipe of the most vulnerabilities in the shortest amount of time.

Taking place just outside of Washington, D.C., as the teams raced to defend their networks from attack, the event resembled a scene out of the show 24. And if it showed us anything, it’s that our future cybersecurity workforce is bright. Read More »

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Technology Helps Reduce High Unemployment Among Post-9/11 Veterans

On March 8, NBCNews.com reported that the unemployment rate among post-9/11 U.S. military veterans was 9.4 percent in February, well above the national unemployment average of 7.7 percent.

Nearly 1 in 10 ex-service members who served in Iraq and Afghanistan is hunting for a job, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The NBCNews.com story mentioned how Cisco is partnering with software developer Futures, Inc. to connect the 200,000 members of the nonprofit Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America to civilian jobs through a free, online tool.

The IAVA Career Pathfinder is free online tool for U.S. military veterans

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