As the U.S. Air Force’s first female airman to complete the grueling, 18-hour Army Cavalry Spur Ride, Courtney Beard is no stranger to overcoming obstacles. Even with her experience, Courtney faced a much greater challenge when she returned from her deployment — finding a job that aligned with her career goals.

Like Courtney, millions of military veterans across the United States struggle to translate their active-duty experience into achievements that will resonate with employers.

Courtney Beard, a United States Air Force Veteran, was hired by Cisco in 2012 as a Network Consulting Engineer
Courtney Beard, a United States Air Force Veteran, was hired by Cisco in 2012 as a Network Consulting Engineer

This is especially true for our country’s youngest veterans, those ages 20-24 who served their country after the terrible events of September 11, 2001. As of November 2014, 18.8% of those 283,586 veterans were unemployed, a staggering number compared to 9.8% for their non-veteran peers.

When military veterans return home, the transition from active duty to the office can be intimidating. Veterans are often the hardest-working employees, but can’t always clearly communicate these skills to hiring companies. Ed French, the CIO of a networking company in Michigan, recently hired two veteran brothers, who have used their military skills to succeed in the workplace.

After serving their country, Warren and David Neal enrolled in Cisco Networking Academy courses at Michigan's Davenport University, which inspired them to pursue a career in the IT field
After serving their country, Warren and David Neal enrolled in Cisco Networking Academy courses at Michigan’s Davenport University and began their careers with Ed French at NetSource One.

Ed recognized the brothers’ reliability, work ethic, and dedication as soon as they began working in the field.  “If a network fails during a call, David and Warren have the ability to work under pressure and get the job done,” he said.

At Cisco, we believe that helping veterans land civilian jobs in IT is a win-win. We’re helping our heroes start their new careers, and we’re filling the growing need for IT talent in our country.

Support for Job Matching

One way we are helping veterans is by connecting them to IT training, credentials, and job opportunities, largely through our support of the Futures Inc. U.S. Military Pipeline. This tool has connected more than 250,000 veterans to civilian jobs since January 2013.

The cloud-based talent exchange platform gives former service members the ability to explore careers, take quick assessments, and explore career paths that match their skills and interests. A sophisticated algorithm matches a veteran’s military experience and qualifications to civilian job postings.

In 2013, the Obama Administration launched the IT Training and Certification Program, which used Futures Pipeline technology to match military veterans who possessed IT experience to civilian job opportunities. Through the program, veterans reinforced their skills through specialized training and earned industry-recognized certifications that validated their knowledge.

Sara Harbaugh spent 6 years in the U.S. Air Force, where she worked in radio maintenance and provided basic system administration to her unit’s high frequency, global communication system. Though she learned a variety of networking skills while serving her country, Sara still didn’t have the degrees or certifications she’d need to get hired by companies in the industry. “Because we don’t have the formal education or degree, [potential employers] see us as entry level, even though we’ve been doing this job for years,” she said.

Sara, who took courses through the IT Training and Certification program, eventually earned her Cisco CCNA certification and became the director of training for a radio system with a Cisco networking backbone. “Having that CCNA certification got me the job,” Sara said. “That’s what they looked at.”

IT Skills and Career Building

Cisco Networking Academy courses at military bases have helped more than 58,000 military personnel develop networking and technology skills since 1997. Clint Abrams, a military veteran, took Networking Academy courses after returning from his deployment and now works as a Customer Support Engineer at Cisco.

Cisco’s commitment to military veterans goes beyond our programs and partnerships — we are a founding member of the 100,000 Jobs Mission, a coalition of more than 180 companies committed to hiring 200,000 veterans by 2020. Since it’s inception in 2011, the coalition has hired more than 217,000 veterans and has expanded its goal to 300,000 hires by 2020.

Courtney, mentioned earlier, is one of more than 2,500 veterans hired by Cisco as part of the coalition. In 2012, she joined Cisco as a Network Consulting Engineer, where she uses her Cisco CCNA and Cisco CCNP Security certifications to provide support for customers in the public sector.

Our employees also have the opportunity to contribute as part of our Veterans Enablement and Troop Support (VETS), an employee organization that provides mentoring and support to active and retired military personnel and their families. Each year, employee volunteers organize an annual Veterans Corporate Technology Day and mentor transitioning military personnel who are considering an ICT career. While there, veterans learn more about Cisco Networking Academy and the Futures U.S. Military Pipeline.

Read more on Cisco’s support of U.S. military veterans on the CSR website.

Want to hire a veteran? Create a free account on the US Military Pipeline and start recruiting today!


Patrick Finn

No Longer at Cisco