We’re all navigating this fast-changing environment, doing our best to adjust to the rapid shift to remote working and online learning. This can feel even more uncertain for our military and veteran community as they transition to civilian careers. This transition is daunting in any circumstance, but a fragile economy and shifting work dynamics creates even greater barriers for those who are separating from military service. Cisco continues to be committed to helping service members chart a clear path to meaningful employment, especially during these unsettling times.

For decades, Cisco has been developing the technology and solutions that enable virtual collaboration and remote working. In fact, many people are surprised (and sometimes a bit envious) when I share that I’ve worked remotely for nearly 15 years. Cisco enables me to work from anywhere, which these days is right from the comfort of my home in Virginia. For some, working remotely is more of a stretch that takes getting used to. That said, many are taking this opportunity to gain new skills to become better prepared for an expanding virtual work evolution.

The majority of Cisco’s Military and Veteran program offerings are already available online at no cost. But even with so many services online, we couldn’t begin to reach a fraction of the more than 200,000 qualified military talent that exits each year if it weren’t for some very special partners who are deeply embedded in our veteran community. They too are expanding access to online training and career readiness programs to ensure continued support to military veterans in these challenging times.

One of our strongest partnerships is with Onward to Opportunity (O2O), part of Syracuse University’s Institute for Veteran and Military Families (IVMF). O2O is well-positioned for an increased wave of online learners seeking to gain relevant credentials that can lead to employment. Their portfolio of over 40 free distance learning training courses, in both technical and soft skills, have helped train over 26,000 service members and their spouses since 2015. Many alumni who have completed O2O courses have achieved either direct employment or job growth as a result of their training.

In 2017, Cisco and O2O joined forces with a handful other leading tech industry partners (AWS, Palo Alto Networks, ISC2, Fortinet, NDG, NetApp) to launch a free virtual training and certification program for veterans, CyberVetsUSA, with the goal of expanding access to industry-relevant training and job opportunities to meet growing cybersecurity demands in the marketplace. O2O plays an important role in overseeing candidate screening, skills assessment, and career mapping of CyberVetsUSA learners, providing personalized guidance and support for those enrolled in the program.

Recently, in response to these changing times, O2O announced it would offer alumni a full year of free access to their online learning platform for additional professional development. This means those who have already completed either their online trainings or a CyberVetsUSA course can continue to increase their skills, further enhancing their marketability. Current O2O online offerings include Business Plan Development, Productivity & Collaboration Tools, QuickBooks, Sales & Marketing, Project Management, Information Technology, Data Science, Business Operations, Compliance, Customer Service, and more.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Mike Bianchi, Senior Director of Education Career Training at IVMF, about how O2O is responding during this time.

“We understand how difficult times may be right now, so we are here to support our veterans and military families as they continue their professional development to connect them with training and employment opportunities,” says Mike. “We expect to enroll over 10,000 people into our programs over the next year.”

Recently, Mike and I participated in a webinar hosted by Randstad Technologies, to engage virtually with transitioning service members looking to explore career opportunities in these unprecedented times. (You can watch the replay of the event here.) The enthusiasm we received from participants further validates the value of strong public/private partnerships, which create not just hope, but real opportunity for career advancement for our military community. It’s a journey we’re taking together.

For more information on Cisco’s Military and Veteran Programs, visit our website.

To enroll in O2O courses, visit their website.

Questions? Please email vet-connection@cisco.com.


Gena Pirtle

Veteran & Workforce Programs Manager

Corporate Affairs