How My Military Experience Is Shaping My Civilian Career

Military Experience

Military veterans transitioning to the civilian workplace possess a range of abilities and attributes that employers value. This is the story of one veteran who’s finding he has even more transferable skills than he initially realized.

Printed on the wall across the room from my desk at Robert Half is one of the more famous quotes by Aristotle: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” In my opinion, those who have served in the military understand this better than most people because it is something that is ingrained into each individual who has ever walked the military path. 

When I reminisce about my days as a sergeant in the Marine Corps, I realize that I had no idea about all the ways I’d be able to use what I learned in the military and apply it to a career in the civilian world. However, as I think about my recent internship at Robert Half, beaming with the joy of dipping a single toe into the vast ocean of software engineering, I realize that, as a military veteran, I have many unique and invaluable transferable skills. I will explain them in greater detail, but first let me formally introduce myself …

From the Marine Corps to Robert Half

My name is Tyler Gallenbeck and I just completed an internship as an entry-level software engineer at Robert Half, where I learned how to apply and implement code, concepts and applications in an enterprise environment. I moved from Jacksonville, N.C., where I was stationed for almost eight years as a Marine, to the San Francisco Bay Area in order to pursue a career in the software industry. 

I currently attend classes at ITT Technical Institute, where I hold a 3.9 grade point average. I have been lucky enough to be accepted into national honor societies such as NTHS and Alpha Beta Kappa. Needless to say, without my military background, I wouldn’t be where I am today, nor would I have been awarded the opportunities that got me here. 

I am also involved with NPower, an organization that helps prepare veterans and young adults to begin careers in information technology. NPower has not only given me the opportunity to secure an internship at Robert Half, but it has also helped me obtain my CompTIA A+ Certificate, revamp my resume and even provide professional training in modern applications such as ServiceNow. It is through NPower — and my internship — that I’m learning about the wide array of skills that many veterans bring to the table. Here are just a few of them:

Strong interpersonal skills 

Interpersonal abilities are key for IT professionals. And I’ve found one of my biggest strengths is my ability to relate to others. By having traveled to so many parts of the world during my time in the military, I gained the ability to not only communicate effectively but also connect emotionally with all different kinds of people. This has allowed me to fit in to almost any environment, with any team, and work as a whole to achieve a desired goal.

Innovation and initiative 

I have paired these two skills because I believe you cannot have one without the other. In the Marine Corps, and more so in a deployed environment, there are things that break, guns that jam, technology that stops working and even times when you have to build the place you’ll call home for the next 13 months. It takes an innovative and creative mind to come up with solutions to these problems and an even more disciplined mind to have the initiative to fix them without being told to do so. I believe possessing these skills has given me an edge against the competition within the IT field.

Leadership by example 

Although this is only one form of leadership, it is the most important. I believe you don’t need to be in a supervisory position to be a “leader” or have good leadership skills. For example, my internship supervisor at Robert Half, Justin Watkinson, continuously provides his team the opportunity for growth and creates a comfortable environment to both work and learn in. In the same way I had led my Marines, he showed me what it takes to lead a development team by seamlessly and habitually providing solutions to others’ problems, coming in early, staying late and even helping out with projects that he’s not directly involved in. 

I learned throughout my time in the military that you cannot have good leadership without first witnessing a good example of it. After seeing firsthand how effectively Justin manages his team, I’m set up for success in not only my current endeavors, but my future ones as well.

Ultimately, there are many things that go into making a person a desirable job candidate or employee. But the above skills have been the pillars of my success as a veteran, and, now, as a civilian, in today’s workforce.

Editor’s note: Tyler’s work as an NPower intern was so impressive that as soon as his internship ended, he was offered a full-time role with Robert Half’s IT team. He started work as an IT security analyst on June 15. Look for more blog posts from Tyler in the future.

Robert Half is committed to providing veterans and military families with career resources and guidance through our global office network. For more information, please visit our Career Resources for Veterans page.

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