Connecting Qualified Veterans to Careers in Technology
This guest post was written by Gena Pirtle, Veteran & Workforce Programs Manager, Corporate Affairs, Cisco.
No two career journeys are the same, and for military veterans, the road to civilian employment is often an entirely new, unfamiliar mission. In today’s digital economy, the skills people need to thrive are ever-changing, adapting with every innovation and technology that hits the market; a market that doesn’t always wait for veterans to end their deployments and return home.
But some of the skills veterans develop in the military — leadership, organization, and teamwork, for example — more than prepare them to reach their full potential in today’s workforce. And at Cisco, we recognize the value of bringing veterans into the workplace; not only for business, but to ensure they’re inspired and fulfilled in IT careers.
It’s why we regularly host veterans-focused events to raise awareness of the opportunities available to transitioning service members looking to work in the technology field. In 2017, during an IT Awareness Day event at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Cisco managers volunteering at the event saw an opportunity to create a direct pathway for veterans to work at Cisco.
Soon, a cross-functional team assembled to create what became the Veteran Talent Incubation Program (VTIP).
A pipeline for transitioning service members and veterans
Launched shortly after the Fort Bragg event, Cisco’s VTIP is a pipeline for transitioning service members and veterans that provides the skills required for an entry-level Cisco Services engineer role. Through the 20-week developmental program, participants focus on honing their technical and consultative expertise, and those who complete the “boot camp” are eligible to receive a full-time job offer in select U.S.-based Cisco offices.
Since its inception, over 375 candidates have applied to VTIP, with more than 140 accepted into the training program. More than 40 of those candidates, including Arodi Fernandez, are now working at Cisco after receiving their Cisco CCNA certification. Today, Cisco is looking to expand the VTIP into other business units, with the hope of creating a focus on disabled veterans.
Freddy Karban, a VTIP graduate now working as a TAC engineer at Cisco, reflected on his career-changing experience. “The VTIP program has completely transformed my life,” he said. “Over the last decade, my passion for technology has grown and I quickly realized how difficult it is to break into this industry without a lot of experience.”
Preparing veterans to thrive
The VTIP program is provided to veterans at no financial cost, but the selection process and time commitment are rigorous. Cisco works directly with connections at bases throughout North Carolina, including Camp Lejeune and the Joint Forces Headquarters, to identify qualified candidates.
Those who apply must be willing to spend 15-25 hours per week studying, attend three sessions onsite, and complete the program with the goal of accepting a full-time offer in January or July.
Once they’ve met those conditions and been accepted into VTIP, candidates are given access to a wealth of knowledge, including Cisco Networking Academy coursework, technical mentorship from Cisco employees, one-on-one meetings with the VTIP program manager, soft skills training, job shadowing, CCNA exam vouchers, and hands-on training with the latest technology tools.
“Without the VTIP program, my dream of making that career change would not have been possible,” Karban said. “The program was challenging, but the hard work paid off and I now have a more exciting career than I could have ever imagined.”
To learn more about Cisco’s Veterans Program and the opportunities available to transitioning service members, please visit our website’s program page.