Sponsoring and Employing Veterans for Software Engineering Training

Jessica mitsch By Jessica Mitsch ● November 10, 2021
Employing Veterans Featured

Clos­ing the Tech Skills Gap — Build­ing the Tech Work­force of Today and Tomorrow

Momentum’s new ini­tia­tive to part­ner with com­pa­nies spon­sor­ing soft­ware engi­neer­ing train­ing and employ­ing vet­er­ans on their teams is a mea­sur­able, impact­ful way to sup­port our nation’s ser­vice mem­bers who are tran­si­tion­ing into the civil­ian work­force. Dur­ing our country’s cur­rent and expand­ing tech tal­ent crunch, spon­sor­ing vet­er­ans through Momen­tum tech­nol­o­gy train­ing and pri­vate sec­tor job readi­ness is also a proac­tive recruit­ing choice for com­pa­nies fac­ing tech tal­ent short­ages. The skill sets vet­er­ans gain from their mil­i­tary expe­ri­ence trans­late well into soft­ware engi­neer­ing and IT posi­tions. Soft skills like grit and per­se­ver­ance, high per­for­mance under stress, effec­tive team­work, and deter­mi­na­tion to suc­ceed com­bined with hard skills from vet­er­ans’ mil­i­tary roles cre­ate tena­cious employ­ees with the tools to achieve.
Momen­tum part­ners with com­pa­nies to iden­ti­fy the skills and roles they are seek­ing or plan­ning for, and then sources out­stand­ing vet­er­an can­di­dates. Often these can­di­dates come from past Momen­tum grad­u­ates’ per­son­al refer­rals to their peer net­works, or part­ner­ships with orga­ni­za­tions that focus on employ­ing vet­er­ans like Atlas, the guide for train­ing and employ­ment for the mil­i­tary community.
Atlas part­ners with Momen­tum for three rea­sons: we share a mutu­al goal of employ­ing vet­er­ans in upward­ly mobile careers, Momentum’s track record plac­ing their soft­ware engi­neer­ing grad­u­ates in top com­pa­nies is out­stand­ing, and Momen­tum tru­ly under­stands both the chal­lenges faced, and val­ue that mil­i­tary vet­er­ans bring, as they enter the pri­vate sec­tor work­force,” said Tim Horan, U.S. Army Vet­er­an and Co-Founder of Atlas.

Spot­light on For­mer Ser­vice Mem­bers and Momen­tum Grad­u­ates Crys­tal Ramirez and Christo­pher Lombardi 

Momen­tum grad­u­ate Crys­tal Ramirez embod­ies mak­ing this suc­cess­ful move into the pri­vate sec­tor work­force. Crys­tal served in the U.S. Army as an Auto­mat­ed Logis­ti­cal Spe­cial­ist at Fort Bragg and Dur­ing her deploy­ment, she took on addi­tion­al duties and served as a Team Cap­tain for her squad and con­tributed towards pro­vid­ing secu­ri­ty for the Civ­il Affairs team while deployed in Iraq. In these roles, Crys­tal devel­oped and honed her man­age­ment, orga­ni­za­tion, per­se­ver­ance, and com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills. After she left the Army, she pur­sued a degree from NCSU and grad­u­at­ed with a BS in Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion with a con­cen­tra­tion in Sup­ply Chain Operations.
Crys­tal strug­gled with trans­lat­ing her mil­i­tary back­ground to employ­ers, and, even with a bach­e­lor’s degree, she found she was not com­pet­i­tive com­pared to oth­er appli­cants to gain employ­ment. She decid­ed that dur­ing this time she would take what­ev­er work she could find. This led to her work­ing in var­i­ous roles such as food ser­vice and cus­tomer ser­vice posi­tions. She kept an eye out for new oppor­tu­ni­ties and then gained expo­sure to cod­ing in a Rails devel­op­ment course host­ed by Code The Dream. After her pos­i­tive expe­ri­ence learn­ing about the tech field and work­ing in an intern­ship, Crys­tal enrolled in Momen­tum in Octo­ber 2018 to dive deep­er into soft­ware engi­neer­ing and lev­el up her career trajectory.
Christo­pher Lom­bar­di is anoth­er vet­er­an and Momen­tum grad­u­ate who has had a resound­ing­ly pos­i­tive expe­ri­ence mak­ing the move from the mil­i­tary into the pri­vate sec­tor. Christo­pher was a Marine Corp. vet­er­an, truck dri­ver, and assis­tant ware­house team leader, and cred­its his time in the mil­i­tary and his oth­er roles with giv­ing him the skills to learn new posi­tions quick­ly, be a good leader in coach­ing and man­ag­ing teams, and apply his knowl­edge in clever ways to find solu­tions. Christo­pher said that he chose to enroll in Momen­tum based on the great suc­cess sto­ries that I had heard and my deter­mi­na­tion to change career paths.”
Crys­tal and Christopher’s sto­ries empha­size how vet­er­ans can lever­age their exist­ing tal­ents by enrolling in immer­sive full-stack engi­neer­ing train­ing. They gained tech­ni­cal skills and advanced their lead­er­ship apti­tude to unlock reward­ing career paths in tech: Crys­tal now works as a Solu­tions Engi­neer for JupiterOne, and Christo­pher is a Pro­fes­sion­al Ser­vices Engi­neer for Genesys.

The Tech Tal­ent Gap is Urgent and Widening

Examining the data, the pathway taken by Crystal and Christopher to private sector success is critical for the industry to actively cultivate on a large scale due to the high demand for tech talent and the scarcity of skilled workers to meet it. Employing veterans does double duty - doing good for our returning military, and building the private sector tech workforce of the future.

The U.S. job market has been experiencing a shortage of tech workers for several years, and this talent gap has only gotten wider throughout the pandemic. With 1.2 million open job postings in software developer and programmer roles in September alone, and 46% of U.S. employers reporting finding skilled tech workers as their primary concern,companies must find the right people to fill these open positions. The pool of veteran talent is a ready solution for the tech talent gap, there are around 19 million veterans, over 200,000 vets discharged from the military each year, and many military positions involve working with complex machinery and sophisticated technologies, which makes for a seamless transition into a job in tech.
On the hard skills side, even veterans who did not serve in a tech-facing role are also very well-suited for careers in this industry. Boeing, for example, is one of the largest employers of veterans, hiring over 13,500 since 2010. It finds veterans from all backgrounds especially attractive job candidates given their grit, resourcefulness, and ability to thrive in team settings. The diverse experiences and perspectives veterans bring to the table are also a significant value-add to company culture, according to U.S. Army veteran and West Point alumnus Jason Park, Boeing’s Director of Global Engagement.

Strategic problem solving, thinking on one’s feet, and staying calm in high-stress situations, in addition to keen attention to detail, well-developed discipline to stay on task, loyalty to superiors, and a strong sense of optimism are among the array of soft skills cited by companies employing veterans.

Cod­ing Boot­camp and Upskilling Out­comes Show Vet­er­ans Exceed­ing their Peers

Today, more and more veterans are recognizing that their military backgrounds could transfer relatively seamlessly into tech today. Many are breaking into the industry through enrollment in accelerated coding bootcamps and technical upskilling rather than pursuing a traditional college education. Course Report’s 2020 Coding Bootcamp Alumni Outcomes & Demographics Report surveyed graduates from 101 bootcamps and found that veterans make up 6% of bootcamp enrollment—a proportion that has been rising steadily over the last few years.

The data also shows that veterans who graduate from coding bootcamps experience even more promising results than their non-veteran peers, underscoring how military experience equips veterans to excel in this field. Among 2020 graduates, veterans reported post-bootcamp salaries that were higher than their non-veteran graduate counterparts after graduating and were more likely to land jobs more quickly.

Tal­ent Ready for the Next Level

Returning to our Momentum graduate examples, Crystal and Christopher utilized the strengths they gained during service for the rigorous, fast-paced nature of a full-stack coding bootcamp and soft and hard skill training program. Christopher said, “I feel as though the military helped me develop outstanding attention to detail, commitment, and integrity. This not only helps me with any career but also my everyday life.”

Crystal said, “This course is a challenge, and you will be pushed everyday. It is like a workout, but for your mind. The curriculum is transferable and the skills you learn will carry on with you to your next position.” Christopher added “I would describe the Momentum coding bootcamp as a challenging, yet very rewarding experience for me.”

"This course is a chal­lenge, and you will be pushed every­day. It is like a work­out, but for your mind. The cur­ricu­lum is trans­fer­able and the skills you learn will car­ry on with you to your next position."
Crystal’s new role has put her agility and adaptability to good use, both key characteristics the military stresses. “I’m currently working in cloud services which uses a lot of different technologies than what I studied at Momentum; however, because I learned the basic principles to software development and gained researching skills, I was able to quickly learn at my new job.”

Both veterans also recognized the supportive Momentum team and a friendly, supportive environment of peers. Crystal said that “Momentum career placement is awesome and they have an amazing network of folks you can get to know. They truly care about their students and help guide them in finding their new career.” This “network of folks” included her colleagues in the program, as Crystal said that her peers were “amazing” and that they were always helping each other tackle tough problems. Crystal shared, “After I graduated, I missed my cohort, and I still stop in to say hello to everyone. This is a great bootcamp, and you will be so happy that you made the choice to go with Momentum." Christopher said something that stood out to him was how “the atmosphere was very welcoming and everyone I encountered was never hesitant to help in any way possible.” Momentum’s camaraderie and collaborative team project focus has parallels to Crystal and Christopher’s previous positions in the military.

Com­pa­nies Are Increas­ing Vet­er­an Hir­ing Efforts through Scholarships

Some of the biggest names in the tech sphere are pri­or­i­tiz­ing vet­er­ans in their tal­ent pipelines, such as Ama­zon, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Sales­Force, Tes­la, and Cis­co, and the rest of the indus­try is tak­ing notice. Com­pa­nies employ­ing vet­er­ans are also offer­ing more pay­ment plans, schol­ar­ships, and incen­tives to sup­port those with mil­i­tary back­grounds by min­i­miz­ing finan­cial bar­ri­ers to enter­ing this new career path; spon­sor­ship also cul­ti­vates loy­al­ty by show­ing employ­ees their com­pa­nies want to invest in their learn­ing and development.
We encour­age oth­er lead­ers to fol­low suit and spon­sor either full or par­tial schol­ar­ships for mil­i­tary vet­er­ans in Momen­tum full stack engi­neer­ing train­ing. Togeth­er we can help vet­er­ans enter an increas­ing­ly in-demand pri­vate sec­tor pro­fes­sion and bring momen­tum to clos­ing the tech tal­ent gap!

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