3 Industries That Love to Hire Veterans

3 Industries That Love to Hire Veterans

For many veterans and military spouses, finding the right career path can be a tremendous struggle. While a growing number of industries are becoming more open to the idea of hiring veterans or military spouses, there are a few career fields that actively seek to hire vets and are also a great fit for any former servicemember. These career fields often require the same skill sets and capabilities that are taught in the military – such as teamwork, attention to detail, and discipline. If you’re a veteran or military spouse looking for your next career move, consider these three industries that love to hire veterans.

Law Enforcement:

This shouldn’t come as a surprise as many law enforcement positions offer an easy transfer for today’s veterans. Due the nature of police work and similar organizational structure, law enforcement will likely feel more familiar for servicemembers who have been deployed overseas. Additionally, law enforcement roles often mirror their military counterparts – from dog handlers to detectives, many veterans already have much of the specialized training necessary to work on a police force. What’s more, there are already many veterans in the law enforcement community so it’s hardly difficult to find individuals, or even entire groups of people, with shared experiences.

Technology: 

Although many veterans and military spouses may not know it, they are the perfect fit for the nation’s fastest-growing industry – technology. With recent tech booms across all major cities, CEO’s from Silicon Valley to Austin are looking for the best employees to fill their ranks. And from what we’re hearing, it’s not about hiring the next JavaScript expert, it’s about hiring a team player who can show up on time and do the right thing even when no one is looking. Contrary to the myth, most tech companies aren’t very fond of the ‘rock stars,’ rather, they favor disciplined and calm individuals who can keep it together in times of stress. It’s no wonder then, that major tech companies like Amazon, Dell, Hewlett Packard, and SpaceX are actively seeking to hire thousands of veterans and military spouses. For today’s veterans, the tech industry offers an exciting career that requires a can-do and adaptable mindset – old hat for soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. And considering that most tech roles — whether you’re coming on the team as a day-one programmer or developer — offer salaries near or above six figures, the tech industry should definitely be on every veteran’s radar.

Government:

Government roles are a good fit for veterans as they essentially adhere to a similar organizational structure as the military. Additionally, government positions span many different agencies and departments – including civilian roles in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or the Coast Guard. In fact, the government also offers positions for those interested in the aforementioned industries of law enforcement and technology. Veterans will also find that their military experience can translate into promotional points for a particular career field and, perhaps best of all, veterans and military spouses receive preference for all government job openings. This offers a tremendous advantage, and incentive, for today’s veterans and military spouses to apply. If you’re interested in working for the government, head over to USAJobs to find your next career field.

While veterans are a great fit for many different industries, it’s clear that many can truly excel in law enforcement, tech, or working for the government. And since all these fields are actively recruiting veterans, it’s worth considering a career in any of these three professions.

5 Similarities between the Military and Startup Life

From Deployed to Deploying: 5 Similarities between the Military and Startup Life

Taking on a principal role for Purple Gator roughly four years ago was a leap of faith. Even though I loved the idea of our flagship product, a trivia platform that offers businesses a new way to engage customers, I was signing on with a brand-new company that could offer no guarantees. Fortunately, my six years as a maintenance analyst in the Air National Guard were perfect preparation for the highs, lows, hard work and just plain uncertainty that come with the startup terrain.

This is one of the reasons that I help mentor fellow veterans who are enrolled at Chicago’s Code Platoon, a nonprofit web-development school known informally as a “coding bootcamp.” That nomenclature is by no means an overstatement. This relatively new type of intense, immersive education plays to the strengths these men and women gained in the military. 

Here are the top reasons that a combination of military experience and a bootcamp education produces developers who are perfectly suited to join anyone’s startup.

1) We are comfortable wearing multiple hats. The boss: “You’re a software engineer? Don’t care, today you are a customer support representative! Tomorrow you will be on a sales call at 2 p.m. but definitely finish planning our customer-appreciation party by noon.” 

If you’ve been in the military, this is second nature: My old boss: “You’re a diesel engine mechanic? Don’t care, today you are the squad’s physical training leader!” Although my specialty was logging maintenance data, more important, I was an airman ready to serve wherever I was needed.

2) Long hours don’t faze us. While work-life balance is a reasonable long-term goal, that is not always a feasible reality in the early days of a company like Purple Gator. Any company might require a 12-hour day here and there. But at a startup you could work those hours for 20 days straight. And the average veteran reading this is probably thinking, “Yeah? Is that supposed to be abnormal? What about the other 10 days in the month?”

3) Teamwork is second nature. For better or for worse, sacrifice is required in both environments. At Purple Gator, we don’t face life-or-death situations, but people’s livelihoods and careers are at stake. In place of “battle buddies,” we might find support and camaraderie as part of a tech incubator on the 9th floor of the Merchandise Mart. And just like the days when I was deployed to Guam in support of the 509 Bomb Wing’s 52 Bomber Squadron, such shared experience forges bonds that transcend background, politics, what have you. I expect the relationships made in both places to last forever. I’ve already seen that happening at Code Platoon, where my first mentee, Javier Revuelta, was part of the inaugural cohort. He is now a software engineer at PowerReviews, but returns often to mentor the current cohort.

4) Coping with stress is first nature. My stress level right now is very high. We have several big-name customers already for GStack, our trivia platform. But every sale counts so much at a startup, and losing out on one means three wasted weeks. You never know where that next paycheck is coming from. And I’m away from my family for days at a time. During a deployment, too, you must deal with not knowing the dangers behind the next hill while worrying about that family back home. For me, personally, while on active duty, I remember a particular time when a lot was riding on whether I could figure out why one of our planes was having mechanical issues. To be more specific, it kind of caught on fire, and combing through the data in order to ensure that this didn’t happen again was a long, arduous process. Because it was very important that the plane not catch on fire again!

5) Even the rewards are similar. When you establish a startup, you are filling a void with your idea, creating something that didn’t exist. So seeing our MVP in a customer’s hands that first time, watching them actually use our product to make money — and finding that their customers did indeed enjoy the trivia games — was an incredible moment. It reminded me of coming back, exhausted, from Operation Enduring Freedom, and the first time that a civilian looked me in the eyes and thanked me for my service. Both times, suddenly, my vision felt clear and crystallized.

By James Bell

Chief technology officer | Purple Gator

Before becoming immersed in the startup world, James was a successful options trader and electrical engineer. He has a master’s degree in computer science from the University of Illinois and studied electrical engineering at St. Louis’ Washington University, where he also played football. He served in the Air National Guard and was deployed to Asia during Operation Enduring Freedom.

Code Platoon’s Partnership with Repl.it

Code Platoon’s Partnership with Repl.it

Since 2016, Code Platoon has trained four cohorts of career-changing veterans and military spouses to enter the technology sector. More than 80% of our students have found employment as full-time junior developers with an average starting salary of $65,000. As we planned for 2018, we asked ourselves, “How do we scale our product to reach and train as many veterans and military spouses as possible?” While our in-person immersive bootcamp in Chicago was a success, the need for veterans or military spouses to relocate to Chicago was a limiting growth factor. After mulling over potential solutions, we decided to create a remote program that would run alongside our in-person program.

The feedback was incredible – applications were flying in. In our current cohort, Echo Platoon, 50% of our students are remote, calling in from Ohio to Italy! While we were thrilled to get this influx of students, a new challenge arose: grading. Instructors were completely overwhelmed with the sheer volume of pull requests from students and spent more time grading than with students.

It was at that time that we discovered Repl.it classroom. Repl.it classroom gives our instructors the ability to create digital classrooms of students, assign classwork/homework, automatically grade that work through unit tests, and keep track of outstanding assignments. In addition, since Repl.it is an entirely browser-based IDE, it is OS agnostic, allowing students with Macs or PCs to write code with minimal setup. The ability to save and send code between students and instructors is also invaluable.

We’re proud to call Repl.it a sponsor of Code Platoon. Through their platform, we will be able to quickly and effectively scale our program to reach veterans and military spouses around the globe!

U.S. Sen. Durbin Talks Tech Education and Jobs at Code Platoon

U.S. Sen. Durbin Talks Tech Education and Jobs at Code Platoon

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) visited Code Platoon’s headquarters on Friday to learn more about the coding bootcamp for veterans and military spouses.

Code Platoon’s students, who are a week away from graduation, presented Durbin with an iteration of their capstone project — a web app that allows users to submit and vote on pet submissions much like the NCAA March Madness brackets. The final project is a tangible product that students can use to market their newly-acquired skills to potential employers. The program connects students with local tech companies to help them network and aid them in their job search.

“One of the key tenets of our program is that we work by, with, and through the Chicago tech community to support ourselves,” said Rod Levy, Founder and Executive Director of Code Platoon. “They support us financially and they support us by providing internships for our students once they have completed the program.”

Code Platoon is a Chicago-based 501(c)3 non-profit that helps veterans and military spouses transition into the civilian workforce by providing technical training and career placement. For 14 weeks, students are immersed in a web development program, learning Ruby, Python, SQL and a number of other marketable coding languages. Upon completing the program veterans and military spouses will be eligible for internships at local tech companies, which could lead to a full-time job.

Durbin added that military veterans and active servicemembers often struggle in their pursuit of higher education, including in deciding on what institutions turn to for continuing education.

They don’t know where to go. They don’t know what to do and they tend to respond to the most advertising.  And they go to [places like] the American Military University. My nephew went to the American Military University and I said to him, ‘Mike, what are you doing? You live in Maryland. The University of Maryland offers courses, why don’t you take that and you can transfer the hours back. The American Military Academy – nobody will know what you’re talking about.’

So these for-profit schools are right in the middle of this and sucking out all of the G.I. benefits that you all worked to earn and they’re supposed to give you a chance in life.

The Federal Communications Commission was fresh off the vote to end net neutrality when Durbin visited the Code Platoon offices. During a Q&A with the students and Code Platoon staff, the lawmaker was asked about his take on the agency’s 3-2 vote to repeal two-year-old regulations aimed at ensuring equal internet access by outlawing fast lanes, throttling, and website and app blocking.

“This was a disastrous decision by the federal communications commission,” said Durbin. He followed his answer by explaining his perspective on the FCC’s monumental decision.

“Their elimination of net neutrality means customers and consumers all across America will start having to pay for things that are free today, and they’ll have to start bargaining with some provider who is going to say, ‘for a certain amount of money, you’ll get faster service. For a certain amount of money, you’ll have access to X-Y-Z.’  All of these things restrict our freedom and access to the internet. I think it was a terrible decision.”

Fundraising Challenge and Give for a Good Cause

Help Us Win This Year’s Fundraising Challenge and Give for a Good Cause!

We’re excited to announce that we’re competing in the Newman’s Own Foundation $500K Holiday Challenge. From November 21st until January 3rd, we’ll be competing with other elite nonprofits from around the nation to raise money. The organization that raises the most online at the end of the Challenge will win $150K.

Here’s how the rest of the winnings break down:

2nd Place wins $50,000
3rd Place wins $30,000
4th Place wins $25,000
5th Place wins $15,000
6th Place wins $10,000
7th Place wins $7,500
8th Place wins $5,500
9th Place wins $4,500
10th Place wins $2,500

And then, on Giving Tuesday (November 28th), the organization that raises the most online will win $50K. Second place will take $25K, and third place will win $10K. In addition to Grand Prizes, there will also be an additional $115,000 given away through weekly Bonus Challenges.

To find out more about the Newman’s Own Foundation $500K Holiday Challenge and follow the leaderboards, click here: https://www.crowdrise.com/newmansownholidaychallenge

To help us win first place and ensure that more of our veterans and military spouses launch successful careers as software developers, click here: https://www.codeplatoon.org/donate-newmanchallenge/

How to Code and Earn College Credit

A Win-Win: Learn How to Code and Earn College Credit

As the tech community continues to grow, careers in the programming and software development space are quickly becoming more and more prominent.

That’s why a growing number of universities are partnering with coding bootcamps and giving their students a leg up in a rewarding and stable career field. We are pleased to announce an addition to that number as we’ve just launched a partnership with the National American University.

This new partnership, which will allow Code Platoon graduates to earn college credit for completing our program, is a step that will provide students of both curriculums with a more technical education.

This collaboration symbolizes our pledge to the continuous improvement and education of our students and also highlights NAU’s commitment to serving the veteran community and the continued success of our student veterans and military spouses.

We’ll be rolling out more updates about this program so make sure you’re following us on TwitterLinkedIn, and Facebook. 

Boeing Invests in Veterans with $100K Grant to Code Platoon

Boeing Invests in Veterans with $100K Grant to Code Platoon

The push to get veterans and military spouses trained for STEM jobs got a boost with the announcement of The Boeing Company’s $100,000 grant to Code Platoon, a web development boot camp for servicemembers.

Rod Levy, executive director of Code Platoon, calls the grant “recognition of the learning and hard work of the veterans, and their success in the market after leaving the program.”

Boeing is increasing their focus on veterans as one of their main “pillars” of investment. The world’s largest aerospace company has granted some $8 million to support efforts that help veterans and their families transition back into civilian life as part of their “Our Heroes: Veterans and their Families” initiative. In addition to veterans, Boeing has turned its attention to investing in youth education and local communities, with the company’s cumulative sum of nonprofit grants reaching $50 million for 2018.

Code Platoon will use the funds for staff development, fundraising, a new instructor and a marketing push to get the word out about Code Platoon’s unique opportunity for veterans and military spouses.

“This grant will be instrumental in helping us reach more veterans, and make a bigger impact,” Levy said. “This investment in our future growth will take us to the next level.”

Code Platoon was founded in 2014 with a focus on preparing veterans and military spouses for jobs in the booming tech industry. The non-profit offers admitted students guaranteed scholarships, taking the cost of the $13,000, 14-week immersive program down to just $2,500. The Chicago-based boot camp recently expanded its program to offer remote training for veterans or military spouses who cannot take classes at the downtown campus. Code Platoon students receive career assistance, with many embarking on paid internships at leading tech companies upon graduation.

The deadline to apply for the next Code Platoon cohort is November 13.

We’re adding an assistant instructor courtesy of Motorola!

We’re adding an assistant instructor courtesy of Motorola!

We’re proud to announce today that we’ve received a $10,000 USD grant from the Motorola Solutions Foundation, the charitable arm of Motorola solutions, Inc. We’re using the grant to provide an assistant instructor for our Spring 2018 cohort. The assistant instructor will work directly with the lead instructor to help bring more personalized coding and programming opportunities for our students.

The Motorola Solutions Foundation awards grants each year to organizations that support and advance public safety programs and technology & engineering education initiatives. This year, programs that served underrepresented populations, including females, people with disabilities and veterans were prioritized. I can speak for Rod and the rest of us when I say that we’re absolutely honored to receive this grant, which will help us create more opportunities for our veteran students to learn and grow.

For more on the Motorola Solutions Foundation grants, click here.

To read our press release on the Motorola Solutions Foundation grant, click here.

Code Platoon

Can’t make it to our office in Chicago? Don’t worry, we’ll come to you!

Here at Code Platoon, we see more and more veterans and military spouses transition into the world of coding and development every single day. However, we know that veterans or military spouses come from every corner of the nation – not just the Chicagoland area – and that’s why we’re excited to share that we’re expanding our offerings to include a new remote initiative!

We’ll be piloting this new program during our next cohort and we’re looking for two highly motivated veterans and military spouses to participate; if that sounds like you or someone you know, read our full brief below.

Our new Remote Attendance Program offers:

ABSOLUTE CONVENIENCE – Whether you’re traveling or you’re on the other end of the world, our Remote Attendance Program is all about providing our veterans and military spouses with a convenient path to access our tried and true curriculum. While we’d love to have you visit our AO, you no longer have to make the trip over here to learn everything you need to become a full-stack developer.

FREE ADMISSION FOR VETERANS AND MILITARY SPOUSES — Our regular program is a 14-week long, in-person coding program located in Chicago, Illinois. For in-person students, the cost is $13,000, but all admitted veterans or military spouses receive $10,500 in scholarships so they’re essentially paying $2,500 out of pocket. For our veteran or military spouses students who are going to be remote, we’re upping that scholarship to the full $13,000 so that they won’t have to pay a cent.

HIGH QUALITY INSTRUCTION — The Remote Attendance Program is very much the same program that our in-person students participate in. Remote students will have access to everything that in-person students have, and will be able to participate in live discussions, ask questions, and receive real-time answers. What’s more, our remote students will work on the same assignments and team projects as their in-person counterparts. The only thing that’s different for our Remote Attendance Students is that they won’t be eligible to participate in the internship program, or at least not with Chicago-based internships.

If you’re interested in taking advantage of our remote offering, make sure you apply now! There are fewer spots for our Remote Attendance Program and our admission standards for these spots will be more rigorous than our in-person program given that we can only take so many. Additionally, we will give preference to veterans with disabilities.

If you’d like to learn more about our remote offerings, you can head to our Remote Attendance Program page for more information or contact us at info@codeplatoon.org.

Deja Baker’s Coding Journey

Deja Baker’s Coding Journey Leads the Way for Women and Veterans Alike

Despite the fact that the tech community is growing faster than ever, there are still two demographics that are often overlooked – women and veterans. However, the dearth of representation from both communities is quickly changing, especially when you have individuals like Deja Baker spearheading the effort. Baker, who enlisted in the Navy as an Analyst, eventually pursued her interest in technology as a Computer Science major at the Naval Academy.

Seeking to further her education in the coding industry, Baker applied for and received Code Platoon’s Women In Technology Scholarship, which fully covers her tuition, and is scheduled to attend the all-veteran coding bootcamp this fall. While there were a number of other bootcamps to choose from, Code Platoon was always the first choice for Baker.

“One reason why I chose to apply for Code Platoon is because its exclusively for veterans,” Baker said. “I feel that being around people from a similar background, who are working towards the same goals, will prove more beneficial to the process.”

In addition to providing a sense of community, Baker believes that an all-veteran bootcamp will likely be composed of the most highly motivated and disciplined students in the coding industry.

“Veterans have worked in a variety of different roles all over the world, and because of that, veterans have a wide array of experiences that allow them to adapt quickly when engaging in new projects,” Baker said. “I feel that a lot of veterans have the drive and the aptitude to work towards a role in tech.”

Although many of today’s veterans often have skillsets that translate well to coding and programming few choose to pursue a career path in the tech industry. Baker says that veterans who have given thought to a career in coding should, at the very least, give it a try.

“I know a lot of people that are interested in coding who are too worried to see what it’s all about, but there are abundant resources online to just dabble in it and see if coding is for you.”

It’s a sentiment that’s shared by leading tech giants such as Google, IBM, and Intel, all of whom have taken measures to help veterans gain a footing in the tech sector. And because there are plenty of opportunities waiting for veterans with strong programming skills, Baker says she’s eager to begin her first day at Code Platoon.

“I’m excited to have this opportunity to study and work towards becoming a developer; I’m looking forward to working in teams in a highly collaborative environment and to be challenged while solving difficult problems.”