Planning My Next Path – US Army Vet’s Road to Cisco
We should all be looking ahead in life, chasing our next goal. Sometimes the path is straight, and sometimes, it throws us a lot of curves.
For example, I was born and raised a Kansas boy. If it’s Kansas sports (Jayhawks, Chiefs, Royals) I’m a fan. I made a plan to join the United States Army, and in February 2008 I enlisted, and became part of the 25th Infantry Division (“Tropic Lightning”). In less than a year I was deployed to Iraq. My role in the military, even then, was called “forward observer.” This meant that I would go on patrols or to observation points, find targets, and call in action on those targets. I received a qualification to also work with the Air Force on air strikes.
Now the curve in the path comes.
During my deployment to Iraq, the vehicle I was in was struck by an IED. The force of the blast from the 100 pounds of homemade explosive rattled the walls at our base 5 miles away. I received a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that developed into a seizure disorder, which was not formally diagnosed until about a year later. Daily headaches (some days are worse than others) significant memory loss and the aforementioned seizure disorder are the long-term results of my injuries.
In 2012, I received a medical discharge from the Army, and started working on building back my memory just to retain knowledge. After a year of hard work, I was on to my next goal and I was given the okay to enroll in college. My path at this point took me back home to Kansas, where I enrolled with Kansas Wesleyan University.
I started by studying business. One semester in, I knew it wasn’t for me. “Maybe my path would be as a teacher,” I thought, and switched to Secondary Education with an emphasis in History, because I loved studying WWII history. Still not the right path.
That’s when the road opened up, and I found my passion. I started studying Computer Science and Computer Information Systems as dual majors. I studied Python, C++, HTML and others, including courses in networking, which were through Cisco’s Net Academy program. I graduated in December of 2016!
Thanks to my work through Cisco’s Net Academy, I was contacted shortly before graduation and asked to interview. This is where my path ticked up in the cool factor. I never applied for a position at Cisco, but of course I said YES! My first interview was via Webex, and then I was flown to San Jose’s headquarters for Cisco Day. I had an offer in-hand the next week. My professor told me he would flunk me if I didn’t take the job (half-kidding, I’m sure) and I was ecstatic.
I’m a new Cisconian, a Customer Support Engineer, as of January of 2017. In March, I cleared another hurdle and passed my CCNA R&S. Testing for me since my injury has been tough. I know the information, but when it comes to testing I draw blanks, but I did it. It feels great to now say, I’ve got my CCNA.
My path at Cisco is wide open. It’s a great place to work, and I’m certainly impressed by their commitment to recruiting military vets like me. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll head back to school as a lecturer!
But for now, I’m planning out my next goal. I know now I can make it happen. How about you?
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