Veterans

From the Frontlines of the Army to Cybersecurity

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IBM’s Veterans Employment Initiative provides software training, certification and job placement assistance to veterans pursuing careers as data analysts. IBM experts lead five-day training sessions at dozens of locations each year, featuring IBM i2® Analyst’s Notebook® software. Part of our Impact Grants portfolio, the initiative works with Corporate America Supports You (CASY) and Military Spouse Corporate Career Network (MSCNN) to host sessions and recruit qualified participants. The program has certified more than 500 veterans in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, and helped to place many into jobs. As we approach Veterans Day, IBM is proud to engage and assist those who have served – not just today, but every day.

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For me, the end of my Army career marked the beginning of a new journey of service and eventually a dream job at IBM. Like so many veterans, I saw my commitment to service as a life-long commitment stretching from the Army’s frontlines to my community back home. I enlisted in the military at the age of 18 and served with honor until receiving an injury forcing me to retire. I was suddenly faced with the challenge of finding work that fulfilled my desire to serve while being professionally rewarding.

With an Army Strong attitude and experience as a field artillery forward observer, my first venture into the civilian workforce was as a law enforcement officer. I went on to pursue higher learning, with a focus on cyber intelligence. I protected neighborhoods by day, while pursuing my associate degree by night. I was propelled by the skills I honed in the military – a strong work ethic, and communication and teamwork skills – to keep moving forward.

And then the magic happened. In early 2017 I was advised by my school counselor to apply for a new free training program offered by IBM focused on equipping veterans with software skills that are widely used in the two professions I am most passionate about: defense and law enforcement.

From my first day in the training program, I knew I wanted to join IBM. Skills-based training like this is usually very expensive. The free training and certification I received have given me a high-demand skillset in new emerging industries that is becoming more sought after every day. Without it, I would be at a serious disadvantage.

As a military veteran, I realize that cybersecurity is national security. It is now a critical part of every industry and every computer device we own. The personal connections I made in the training program coupled with my military and law enforcement background, made me a perfect fit for my new job as an IBM intelligence analyst. I am so fortunate for the skills I gained during my IBM training to help companies and governments fight crime.

To date, more than 500 veterans have received the week-long training in IBM’s Veterans Employment Initiative, and 99 percent of them have earned certification in IBM analytics solutions that can be used across a diverse range of fields – from monitoring financial fraud to helping prevent cybercrime. More than 100 of those who earned the certification have landed jobs as a result of this training. We are part of the first wave of what IBM calls a new-collar workforce – where what matters most are skills, experience and aptitude, rather than traditional degrees.

In an effort to tap into the unique skills and talents of our nation’s service men and women, IBM has pledged to hire 2,000 veterans over the next four years. Cybersecurity is one field that veterans are particularly well suited for, and is also high demand –with an anticipated 1.8 million-person cybersecurity worker shortage by 2022.

The program is part of IBM grants that equip nonprofits with skills training. It is offered at about 30 locations in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The training is followed-up with free career placement services provided by national nonprofit Corporate America Supports You (CASY), together with IBM and other corporate partners.

The IT industry is primed for new-collar talent, as more than half of security hiring managers say that practical, hands-on experience is the most important qualification for a cybersecurity candidate. In fact, nearly 20 percent of IBM Security professionals hired in the U.S. since 2015 fall into this category of new-collar employees. I am proud to count myself among them.

Chris Greifenberger is a Law Enforcement Intelligence Analyst with IBM.

Related Resources:

Preparing Veterans for Rewarding New Collar Careers

First Person: Starting Over with the Right Training for a New Collar Career

Learn More About IBM’s Veterans Employment Initiative

Find Out More About Corporate Responsibility at IBM

Law Enforcement Intelligence Analyst, IBM

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