×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

With Troop Drawdown, IT Looks To Hire More Vets

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the but-what-about-the-animals? dept.

The Military 212

Lucas123 writes "The military's a great place to learn how to kill people and break things, but many also consider it one of the best training grounds for high-tech skills. 'If you're working on a ship or a plane or tank, you've got responsibility for large, complex, extremely expensive equipment run by highly sophisticated IT platforms and software,' said Mike Brown, senior director of talent acquisition at Siemens. But, just how well do military tech skills translate to private-sector IT? Computerworld spoke to veterans to find out just what they learned during their tours of duty and how hard it was to transition to the civilian workforce."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

212 comments

Danger Zone! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38013734)

I like to brag that, when I walk into the server room, Danger Zone starts blaring in the background.

My life in this hell-hole is extreme. Can't tell you how many times a server blade has nicked me. We go through bandages like coffee at Google around here!

/.... highway to, the, Danger Zone ....

Re:Danger Zone! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38014404)

We go through bandages like coffee at Google

And yet with all those bandages, you're still able to get Frist Post. Amazing. Remind me to hire you for our Monkey Shakespeare Project.

Re:Danger Zone! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38014700)

Good point, it might actually sound like a jet near a hard disk array at CERN. A catastrophic UPS failure can cause an explosion. [batterydaq.com] Look at that back wall - not much left.

That seems somewhat smart (2)

AdamJS (2466928) | more than 2 years ago | (#38013750)

Therefor it will not succeed.

Re:That seems somewhat smart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38013814)

The IT field is already over saturated so it will fail, plus the starting wage is way too low.

Re:That seems somewhat smart (3, Insightful)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#38013892)

Low wages probably won't discourage ex-military, they are rather used to it.

Re:That seems somewhat smart (4, Funny)

iblum (894775) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014728)

low wages, check. no respect from superiors, check. hazardous working conditions, check. surly attitudes, check. sounds like it would make sense. plus it would discourage people from attacking your it folks when the server goes down. (would YOU want to complain about slow download speeds to your IT guy if you knew he was an ex-green beret with PTSD?)

Re:That seems somewhat smart (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 2 years ago | (#38015164)

Low wages when you're getting food, clothing, and shelter thrown in for free is one thing. At least I assume that's how full military service works. Plus, college tuition is a part of the package, too. Making a lifetime out of it is rather different.

Re:That seems somewhat smart (0, Flamebait)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014688)

First, this isn't meant to disparage any of our fine service men and women who have served our country...and risked their lives for us. I truly appreciate their service and sacrifice. That take guts.

However, to be candid....the majority of ex-military folks I've run across...while capable in many ways, just often don't seem to be the sharpest knives in the drawer.

I've often thought maybe that was due, in large part...to the volunteer military we have now, and that many if not most recruits viewed joining the military as the opportunity of last resort? The military offered them a job, a home and in many cases some form of education that they could not attain in the normal civilian world.

Is this the way for everyone in the military and coming out? No...but I have to say, that many I've seen, met and even worked with in past years, are not the smartest of folks, and would be (and have been ) ill suited many times to work in IT work requiring a great deal of mental abilities, and ability to think quick on the feet and independent of others, in other words...act on their own without orders. That latter one sometimes applies to those with the mental capabilities...

Perhaps the groupthink/action required for successful military life, is not often the best mental training for civilian live, particularly where free and imaginative thinking is often required?

Anyway...just my anecdotal observations...what are yours?

Re:That seems somewhat smart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38014816)

I've had a friend go from the Navy to the NSA. I'd say he's pretty sharp and I wouldn't be wrong. It's like anything else it depends on where they come from. I could go to any IT shop and find stupid people, but that doesn't mean all IT shops are full of them. However, what worries me is people hiring them just because they're ex-military and that's their only qualification.

Re:That seems somewhat smart (5, Interesting)

Bardwick (696376) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014928)

I served 5 years, USN, I would agree with this. A non-perfect way to determine is what they went in for, and how long they stayed. First couple of years, especially if your a grease monkey or infantry type your pretty jaded for the first 3-4 years. Your comments mostly apply to below E-5. The gear that I used (Air Traffic Control) was built in 1973, same year I was born. Ash trays were part of the actual radar gear, so as far as new tech.. Besides some isolated pockets, it's WAY behind. Side note: Loading the ATC software was aluminum punch tape on a spool. So accurate on automated landings, that they had to put in a deviation to keep tail hooks from hitting the exact same spot on the flight deck every time.

Re:That seems somewhat smart (5, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014946)

You're an idiot. Our network engineer, telecom guy, and email admins are all ex-military and not only are they all above average intelligence but their disciple and calmness under stress are all great advantages working in a small IT group with fairly significant expectations from the business.

Re:That seems somewhat smart (2)

afidel (530433) | more than 2 years ago | (#38015126)

Forgot one (silly me), our network manager/AV guy is retired coast guard. Also quite smart and very resourceful.

Re:That seems somewhat smart (2)

zoloto (586738) | more than 2 years ago | (#38013950)

This is going to make it even harder for me to find or keep work.

may you live in interesting times, beeotches! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38014056)

You ain't seen nuthin' yet!

Just wait until occupy wallstreet has a real army! [wikipedia.org]

Do you think Barry has the balls to order the NG to open fire on veterans?

Re:may you live in interesting times, beeotches! (2, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014754)

Just wait until occupy wallstreet has a real army!

Nah...they're just the 2000's version of the hippies/yippies from the 60's. Loud, boisterous...but not really adept at accomplishing anything, nor even having a real concrete, unified goal or message to promote.

The OWS today's shouts of "Kill the Corporations" and "Life is Unfair" are basically the analogous to the "Tune In, Turn On, Drop Out" of that day. Fun to say and march to....but in the end, fairly useless and pointless.

Re:That seems somewhat smart (1)

gx5000 (863863) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014248)

I can just see it now, a new syndrome, Server Rage ! (well ok, I've had it since 89 but...)

Re:That seems somewhat smart (1, Funny)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014390)

Wouldn't it be smarter to reward the troops with decent employment, instead of hiring them into mind-numbing dead end jobs?

Besides, I'm slightly worried about hiring people who are completely comfortable with guns in the workplace into high-stress positions.

Re:That seems somewhat smart (5, Insightful)

Bardwick (696376) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014686)

Two things.. You are much less likely to experience work place violence from a Vet. 'Nother thing. I was Navy Air Traffic Controller, USS Theodore Roosevelt (Carrier).. Just curious, how do you define high-stress? Can't print?

Re:That seems somewhat smart (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38014694)

Wouldn't it be smarter to reward the troops with decent employment, instead of hiring them into mind-numbing dead end jobs?

Besides, I'm slightly worried about hiring people who are completely comfortable with guns in the workplace into high-stress positions.

I guarantee what they're doing at the civillian job is lower stress than when they were doing the same damn thing but lives depended on it.

Re:That seems somewhat smart (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38015004)

You are a bigot

Personally I have no problem with this (-1, Troll)

fredrated (639554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38013780)

but I wonder if the Republicans that scream so loud about 'discrimination' when minorities are involved will see this as discrimination as well.

Re:Personally I have no problem with this (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38013830)

Why would they? This is based on skill and experience, not the color of someone's skin. Nice try though...

Re:Personally I have no problem with this (2, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014048)

Why would they? This is based on skill and experience, not the color of someone's skin. Nice try though...

No, it's not. Subsidies to employers mean that, given 2 people of "close-enough"qualifications, the one from the military, who qualifies for subsidies and tax credits, will get the job.

How is that NOT economic discrimination?

Re:Personally I have no problem with this (1)

T.E.D. (34228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014930)

No, it's not. Subsidies to employers mean that, given 2 people of "close-enough"qualifications, the one from the military, who qualifies for subsidies and tax credits, will get the job. How is that NOT economic discrimination?

Perhaps it is. But speaking as someone who sat in a cushy chair eating chips while these folks were overseas doing my fighting for me, I think I'm fine with this instance of discrimination.

Re:Personally I have no problem with this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38014978)

I've always wondered about this kind of thing, and if it actually happens.

I mean, I've never seen two people of objectively equal qualification for a job.

But assuming two candidates apply for a job with the same, exactly level of education, same level of experience doing the same jobs for equal companies, with the same personal presentation and people skills... then in that rare case, does it really matter so much as to complain about discrimination?

Re:Personally I have no problem with this (2, Insightful)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#38013920)

Can you please explain exactly how this would be discriminatory?

Re:Personally I have no problem with this (1, Interesting)

fredrated (639554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014040)

If they give hiring preference based on being a vet that seems discriminatory to me though I am open to suggestion if you can explain why that is not discriminatory.

Re:Personally I have no problem with this (4, Insightful)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014148)

When you hire someone you always look at their past job history to determine if the person is going to work well in your organization.

This is a standard practice, you would be a moron not to do that.

Yes, I will more likely higher someone with military background vs someone with a fast food background.

I guess you would be technically correct, discrimination happens, but it is not illegal unless the discrimination is based on something the individual cannot change, such as their skin color or place of birth.

Remember, you can always join up, serve your country for a few years and when you get out you too can enjoy the perks of being ex-military if it is that big of a deal for you.

Re:Personally I have no problem with this (0)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014178)

Yes, I will more likely higher (sic) someone with military background

Maybe you could suggest to *your* boss that they "higher" someone who knows how to spell? (Do you also take a "coffee brake"?)

Just asking ...

Re:Personally I have no problem with this (0)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014184)

Which is discriminatory, the military isn't exactly an equal opportunity employer. There're plenty of folks out there that aren't eligible to enlist for one reason or another but are perfectly suitable for jobs of this nature. Bumping people, particularly in the period of a recession, who didn't have that option is just plain wrong.

Re:Personally I have no problem with this (0)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014356)

If you are such a fuck up that the military wouldn't take you don't be surprised if no one hires you.

Re:Personally I have no problem with this (1)

Osiris Ani (230116) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014548)

If you are such a fuck up that the military wouldn't take you don't be surprised if no one hires you.

There are certain physical requirements to enlisting in the military that are, let's say, not specifically geek-centric. Further, until very recently, they were notorious for automatically disqualifying approximately 10% of the population based upon... a questionable criterion.

There are plenty of reasons why the military would have rejected otherwise perfectly suitable IT workers.

Re:Personally I have no problem with this (1)

smelch (1988698) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014722)

This whole thing is stupid. Discrimination is not a bad thing. I don't eat shit, I don't pork ugly, dumb women and I don't play bad video games. I also don't accept friend requests from people with a personality I don't like. I don't hire people that aren't good at the job or tell jokes in bad taste during the interview process. All of those things are discrimination. The only problem with discrimination is when society systematically discriminates against a class of people for the purpose of holding that class back. If you don't discriminate you're an idiot, but you would give yourself a job anyway if you could because discrimination based on intelligence or capability is somehow wrong to you.

Does this sound like unsavory discrimination, or just helping out some vets who gave a lot for and should get a lot from society?

Re:Personally I have no problem with this (0)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014830)

Ok, but as someone mentioned before....if two candidates are up for the job...one civilian and one military.

Let's say they're closely qualified, maybe the civilian has slightly more real work experience, etc....but the company gets a tax break for hiring the military guy, so you hire him instead of the guy that actually was slightly more qualified., that's not discriminatory?

Hell, lets say they were 100% equally qualified...rather than maybe flip a coin, you always go to the military guy? That seems a bit slanted and discriminatory...etc.

I'm assuming, of course, that said job would not directly benefit from military experience (say some military IT job developing HR for the military, etc).

Re:Personally I have no problem with this (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#38015090)

Hell, lets say they were 100% equally qualified...rather than maybe flip a coin, you always go to the military guy? That seems a bit slanted and discriminatory...etc

Not a flip of the coin, if you have two equally qualified people applying to the job you would hire the one who interviewed best.

A good resume might get you an interview, but it won't necessarily get you a job.

Re:Personally I have no problem with this (2)

iblum (894775) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014788)

it is discriminatory, in the strictest sense of the word. But its not illegal. its not even immoral. To provide preferential treatment to those who gave up their time to help defend our freedom is not a bad thing. To offer a job to someone who risked their life to ensure our way of life is never a bad thing. Of all the things our government does that they shouldn't do, it should do more for veterans.

yes sir! (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38013792)

We've hired a few of these folks. Technical skills tend to be shallow, but we are willing to train the right candidate. Worse is their yes man attitude. You can't get these guys to provide any useful input, when they think their input might conflict with that from somebody "above them". It doesn't seem like these guys can overcome that part of their military training.

Re:yes sir! (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014364)

I guess it depends on the industry you're in and what type of military people you are attracting. My company is in the network security arena. We have many ex military people, especially in professional services. When you have large military/government contracts, having people who know the inner workings of your customer and can look at your own products/solutions from the perspective of their experiences with it as a user in that environment is incredibly helpful. The active or easily renewed security clearances is also a big plus.

I suppose what you get out of hiring ex-military people is the same as what you get out of hiring anyone -- what skills/experience/aptitude they have and how you can leverage it.

Re:yes sir! (1)

j-pimp (177072) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014398)

Worse is their yes man attitude. You can't get these guys to provide any useful input, when they think their input might conflict with that from somebody "above them". It doesn't seem like these guys can overcome that part of their military training.

Some bosses will like that. I dropped out of school and had to work my way through a few years of hell desk and system administration before I ended up being a programmer. While my ability to question orders and think outside of the box got me off helpdesk, it got me in a lot of trouble at first. I still keep in contact with that company, and I can tell you for sure that I would not be able to survive in that particular NOC the way its run today, but an ex-military guy would do great there.

Re:yes sir! (1)

Forbman (794277) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014984)

but that could come from anyone who has worked in an environment for very long where sticking too far up above the board is going to get you (and probably some of those around you) hammered down, and hard (in the military, it's called "non-judicial punishment" or Article 15). This goes most for enlisteds, O1-O3, or warrant officers, at least with regards to the US military, especially if they never were in a significant leadership position. It's just part of the culture.
As far as the "yes man" nature, if they've been the military for any significant amount of time, they're strongly ingrained with no matter how bullshit the request is, that The Man doesn't care about excuses, only solutions...oops, my bad...results. So it's "yessir, yessir, three bags full!" even if we know the bags are gonna be full of cow shit.
Another thing that is hammered into most military people is "respect the chain of authority". You tell your boss the problem, and that's it (assuming it's not redirected back to you as a personal problem for you to fix). If it gets swept under the carpet by higher ups, so be it.
It's a real bad thing to "jump the chain" or even go outside of the chain of authority. Even if you do and are ultimately vindicated, the culture will remember it and it will not bode well for your long-term career.

Move to military contracting if you do get out. (4, Informative)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#38013798)

Not doing at least 20 years is a questionable call since you can retire after that, but going contract after you eject (early or late) is a good way to leverage any skillset you acquire.

Find a system that will outlive you (the first folks to work on C-130s are now long dead!) and get in as early as possible.

I've never met anyone who regretted serving until retirement, self included.

If you don't like your job, crosstrain. If you don't like your service, get smart and go Air Force. :)

Re:Move to military contracting if you do get out. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38013872)

Lots of ex-services people have been jumping on the contractor bandwagon as a natural progression after leaving and saturating that market also.

Re:Move to military contracting if you do get out. (1)

iblum (894775) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014872)

I once new a guy who found a unique ex military profession. he went back into the military. This guy signed on at 18 as an enlisted. did 20 years. after retiring at 38, he got dispensation to re-enlist, but this time as an officer, and then retired again as a full bird at 58 years old. (airhead)

Re:Move to military contracting if you do get out. (4, Informative)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014008)

Depends on where and how you serve. I was a National Guardsman. Turns out that no matter how many times they send me to Iraq, I still get "reserved retirement" which means that you get jack shit till you're 65. You can still retire at 20 years, and the years of active duty increase the amount you get in retirement pay; but reservist don't get any benefits until age 65. So you serve from say age 18-38 and retire. In that time you spend 5 years on deployment. Those 5 years add to the percentage of your salary you'll see from retirement payments, but you don't see the first payment for 27 years.

Re:Move to military contracting if you do get out. (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014646)

I don't know the current rules, but when my dad retired from the Government, he was able to apply his 4 years in the Army to his retirement package.

Re:Move to military contracting if you do get out. (1)

aenigmainc (739876) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014380)

i did 10 years army. made E-6, then warrant. got out after 10. debated on staying in since i could retire at 20. I looked at the benefits i'd get and compared that to my loss of wages over the next 10 years and i determined it was actually better for me to get out. I went from making 30-45k/year to making over 300k/year as a civilian. so, i dont' see how its questionable to NOT do 20 years. its all about ROI. sometimes its there, sometimes its not. If i was a grunt, then staying in is probably pretty good since my odds of a high paying job on the outside are bit more slim. intel/linguists, electronic specialists, or computer/network specialists have a much better chance of hitting the payday lottery. some specialties like nursing may actually pay better IN the military. you are correct about transitioning to government contractor or government employee on the way out. Its relatively easy to get picked up as a contractor (at least it was for me) and its a great opportunity to finish up grad school, or get your first degree. I chose to finish grad school then went on to bigger/better things. i hire almost exclusively ex-military. and all of them now make over 80k/year with a couple making over 200k/year (after leaving me and moving on to Cisco and VMWare with their newly acquired skills). one other point i want to make. If the military is drawing down do you really think all of those contractor jobs are going to survive? i think more than a few companies are going to feel the pinch.

Re:Move to military contracting if you do get out. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38014814)

When I worked in mainframes (left the field in 2006) there were two types of programmers that my company hired: Those with a college degree and experience dating back to when COBOL was taught at the university level, and military veterans (Who still learn it / use it in the service).

The above post about skills are true even in IT. Learn something that will outlive you and you will be set.

COBOL programmers commend a decent salary these days.

Re:Move to military contracting if you do get out. (2)

Forbman (794277) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014988)

The US Air Force: closest thing to being in the military!

Military technical skills translate very well n=1 (5, Informative)

GAATTC (870216) | more than 2 years ago | (#38013802)

In our Biology department we have a high end confocal microscope. This is a very expensive, sophisticated and complicated microscope with complex optical, mechanical, and control systems. The technician who services it and keeps it running was a sonar technician in a submarine for many years before he got a job working on microscopes. He is very good - logical, careful, and responsible. Obviously this is a small sample size but if his training in the navy has anything to do with his performance in his current job then this is a nice example of military training actually translating well into a civilian technology position.

Re:Military technical skills translate very well n (4, Informative)

k6mfw (1182893) | more than 2 years ago | (#38013932)

s. The technician who services it and keeps it running was a sonar technician in a submarine for many years before he got a job working on microscopes. He is very good - logical, careful, and responsible.

I've known couple others that been in the sub service and they are very good. Getting sub service experience means they had to pass courses and examinations, besides weeding out nutzoids they also want best techie talent on board when you are weeks (months?) under the water.

Re:Military technical skills translate very well n (4, Informative)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014128)

I have to agree. Submarine sailors often are more technically inclined and generally smarter than your average sailor as they had to qualify for those posts. From what I remember these sailors are often recruited to be placed on submarines from the start. Also there are mental aspects of being underwater for months on end as well as living under an unconventional daily cycle.

Re:Military technical skills translate very well n (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38014172)

Plus, it's a bonus for submariners if they're tiny - so you can fit them into cramped server closets with ease!

BAZINGA.

Re:Military technical skills translate very well n (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38014900)

They would make the best astronauts for long term space travel.

Re:Military technical skills translate very well n (5, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014078)

Submariners tend to be very good on the average. It comes down to the fact that they live in roughly a 1000' long steel pipe under water with a nuclear reactor, high explosives, and on SSBNs a hundred plus nuclear war heads sitting on 24 big honking rockets. Mistakes are very costly in that environment :)

Re:Military technical skills translate very well n (1)

dcherryholmes (1322535) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014662)

I agree. I'm not doing anything related to nuclear power now, but the training I got in the navy has been invaluable to me. As many people say college *should* be, the Nuke Power program taught me how to teach myself and how to absorb massive amounts of information quickly, plus things other posters have mentioned (yes, mistakes are deadly).

Re:Military technical skills translate very well n (1)

GovCheese (1062648) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014564)

As a recruiter for IT (in the past) I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Coast Guard had an exceptionally rigorous and broad training schedule for their IT ratings. In fact, they were "perfect" candidates for jobs that needed broad experience and the ability to work independently. I imagine the need to work afloat away from shore assistance had something to do with it. From what I could tell CG pay was pretty crappy but if you're looking for on the job IT training that has meaning outside the sevice environment, I'd go with the CG - they really impressed me.

Speaking from personal experience... (2)

quangdog (1002624) | more than 2 years ago | (#38013812)

I've had the opportunity in the past to work closely with people who learned their IT skills in the military. Without exception they were very competent and a pleasure to work with. If I were hiring today, a candidate who learned IT skills in the military would get a closer look than the guy with the degree from the local community college.

I'm not saying that everyone who learns IT skills in the military is awesome, but the ones I've met have been.

Re:Speaking from personal experience... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38013966)

Without exception they were very competent and a pleasure to work with.

Another thing they have in common is that they decided to not work for the military anymore.
Perhaps the incompetent assholes stays in the military while the competent nice guys gets out.

Re:Speaking from personal experience... (4, Insightful)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 2 years ago | (#38013986)

I'm not saying that everyone who learns IT skills in the military is awesome, but the ones I've met have been.

In the end you need to carefully examine all job candidates, even ex-military. My experience (I am a vet) is that there are a few saints, a few monsters, and a vast middle of decent but flawed people, just like the general populace.

Logistics (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38013858)

Military logistics is some of the most advanced out there.

When I was working shipping at Dell I would say almost all of the logistics management was ex-military. At least all the useful ones were ex-military.

FedEx being another good example of military logistics making its way to the civilian world.

having worked with my share (3, Informative)

nimbius (983462) | more than 2 years ago | (#38013894)

of military veterans in IT my experience is limited to managers or techies, all can vary wildly.

the manager I had at one company was from the navy. not very intelligent but he knew enough about how to lead a team
that he could tell when we needed help and he knew when to stay out of the way. great guy to work with.
but the helpdesk manager im told was a complete asshole. he alientated the seasoned pro's by treating them like kids
and before we knew it, they had all quit.

the NOC tech i work with now is coming out of retirement from the airforce. hes not brilliant by any stretch, and he doesnt appear motivated to
any great feats of knowlege. probably a bad example

the guy we just promoted is from the army. he isnt smart, and he chews up most of our time asking questions about code, but hes at least very motivated
to learn. i guess thats a plus.

Re:having worked with my share (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38014150)

Albeit also anecdotal, that they vary quite a lot fits with the ex-military folks I've worked with.
  • One was not very bright, but very motivated and made a perfect assistant to have do the tedious stuff while teaching him.
  • One was even less bright and not motivated or educated but was hired because he was cheap and was among the first to be laid off.
  • One was bright and motivated.
  • There were some others, but those three encapsulate the full range, IMHO.

The volunteer Army (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38013922)

"The military's a great place to learn how to kill people and break things"

So is urban America. What would you rather have, someone joining a gang, or someone getting
trained to fight your wars for you and coming out with some useful skills and discipline?

Depends on the high-tech skill set (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38013926)

During the tech bubble burst of 2002, I went from being a full time Perl programmer to working part-time at a super market in the meat section. One of my coworkers was a tech lead in the Army working on avionics in attack helicopters. When the attack copter wings were cut, he left with them, only to discover his high-tech skills in attack helicopter avionics were completely useless in the private sector. Clearly advanced technology, clearly without a direct compliment in the civilian world.

I eventually found another Perl/PHP job, but as far as I know hes still at the super market. So I think it really depends on what you're high tech skills are, as to how successfully you can make the transition.

Re:Depends on the high-tech skill set (1)

Nexzus (673421) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014264)

Was there no option for him to go to Lockheed or Boeing or McDonnel or any other military hardware contractor?

Re:Depends on the high-tech skill set (1)

jittles (1613415) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014742)

Boeing and McDonald Douglas are the same entity now. As for Boeing/Lockheed, those are highly coveted positions that often go to people in positions of power, authority, or with the right connections to have friends involved in the purchasing of training, or other hardware. Most retired personnel would do better looking for a smaller company that provides services to the military.

Re:Depends on the high-tech skill set (2)

jittles (1613415) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014724)

Which army attack helicopter was he on? If he's a good 15Y, then I could probably land him a job right now!

Not teh people you want for non-routine work (1, Troll)

sander (7831) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014044)

This is much more of propaganda, and far less of reality. The reality is much more of people who have shallow and overly specific skills, whose ability to learn and innovate on their own has been stunted, who are much more willing to just do anything and claim it was an order rather than being an active, thinking participant in the process. If you need people who will just take on tasks from some ticketing system, do whats in it, close it, take the next one and keep doing that for 8 hours every day of the week - sure, hiring ex-military will probably pay off.

Ex-military is not the contingent from where you will find people passionate about IT or CS. And those are the people you want if you are not just doing routine crap. And as a result, ex-military is extremely poor fare to recruit.

Re:Not teh people you want for non-routine work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38014154)

As opposed to what, community college or ITT tech graduates? You're making a broad generalization of a major section of the population here. People are people and whether they got their training at Stanford or in the military, some will be motivated self-starters and some will need to be externally motivated. Not to mention that after 4 years in the military, not only are you trained but you have real world experience. Folks coming out of 4 years of college are book smart with little to no real world experience.

Re:Not teh people you want for non-routine work (1)

hpinsider (2468002) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014156)

This has got to be the most ignorant thing I have read all day. Sure there are many MOSs in the military, some transfer closely to the civilian world others do not. Im not going to say the military has the best and the brightest, they don't. But I will say they do offer companies someone who might have a better understanding of the bigger picture and they're place in the hierarchy. Technical skills are not what is most important, fitting into an organization is. I recently left from duty with the United States Marine Corps, Happy Birthday Marines.( Today is our 236th birthday) Sander how would you define this article as propaganda? Who would benefit from an article such as this? Clearly it irks your small scope of the world. Next time you wondering why you have been passed over for promotion time after time and why you think you should be running things and your not, please refer back to this message. Referring back to this will help you cope with your failures in your professional career and personal life. Good Day.

Re:Not teh people you want for non-routine work (0)

sander (7831) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014414)

Your attempt to insinuate that this is somehow caused by personal bitterness is extremely low of you. Surely you can frame better arguments than personal attacks?

Certainly there are many companies out there that have "awareness of place and lines of command" as the most important qualifications, but by and large, this is not what is about what is really needed for fitting into, and taking part in the work in positions that require individual creativity. Sure, very bright and creative people join the armed forces for a large number of differing reasons, and some of these even get assigned to do IT related work there. This however does in no way change the reality of what the average quality of such ex-personell is.

The article is propaganda as it pushes a very narrow, pro specific government initiative view without any ability to look outside what the blinkers show. If you do not understand why this makes it be propaganda, maybe you should refresh your memory of what exactly the word "propaganda" means?

Re:Not teh people you want for non-routine work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38015024)

Who would benefit from an article such as this?

Let me answer this one. That's easy. The military will. Articles like this and comments in the same direction will get young people to join the military, that might otherwise be too smart to do so (and by that I simply mean people that don't want to get shot at because the US is trying to get at yet another oil rich country).

Re:Not teh people you want for non-routine work (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014334)

You hire people who couldn't make it past private and you will have those problems.

Hire someone who has been working in a technical field in the military who has been promoted a few times and you will get an entirely different result.

Re:Not teh people you want for non-routine work (1)

IronOxen (2502562) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014354)

Actually nothing could be further from the truth. From experience within the IT world of the Military from pre network days with standalone Z-100 dual floppy to full blown modern data centers. Innovation on the part of the IT workers is continuously encouraged and greatly rewarded. In my experience, IT professionals at least in the Air Force that are not passionate about keeping up with technology and finding better ways to do things and learn as many different aspects of IT are not in the IT world for long. There are really 3 types of IT people in the military. Those who get as many certs as possible so they can fill their resume and get out Those who are passionate about what they do and what they can learn Those on their way out of the field or the military. If someone has IT experience in the military from early in their career then they ended up with a less technical job or if they were in the military for a short time after getting into the IT field without collecting certs or an IT degree, then maybe you are right. But someone like me who spent 22 years from token ring, Banyon Vines and AUI transceivers to the latest modern data centers had to continuously improve or find work elsewhere.

Re:Not teh people you want for non-routine work (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014704)

I'm a Navy vet and can say that your experience is very close to mine. Sure, there are vets who are good with IT work, but usually those are the people who would've been good at it without their military training.

The military values conformity and obedience over any other traits; neither of those are good traits to have in programmers or admins, who often need to exercise their own initiative and be able (and willing) to tell management they're wrong (and back up that assertion). Someone who's spent their whole career in the military is not the type of person who will do those things.

So while I've hired vets in the past and would not hold someone's military experience against them, I'm not going to count it as a positive, either (except in the rare case of two otherwise-equally qualified applicants, in which case I'll hire the person with the more interesting sea stories).

How about linking to page 1? (4, Informative)

sirdude (578412) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014054)

What is common between the /. editorial department & the USPTO? They don't bother to check what they rubber-stamp :S

The post links to the last page of the article instead of the first [computerworld.com].

Currently Transitioning (4, Interesting)

CPTreese (2114124) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014086)

I'm a prior Army Officer that has transitioned into the civilian workforce. The Army taught me many things, but the primary benefit was the amount of money the Army was willing to risk on me. Not many people can say that their first job out of college was managing 55 people and 8 million dollars in physical assets. Fortunately I did very well and had more command positions after with ever increasing responsibilities. I have what I consider to be an above average intelligence, but I'm certainly not anything special (certainly not genius level, I've met geniuses, I can't understand half of what to them is simple). I've faced combat and been under extreme pressure situations. I currently work in programming and find it moderately boring and frustrating with almost no correlation to my military service. Currently I'm working on getting back into some sort of operational role.

The point is, just because their military does not mean they will be uniquely gifted to do a job. The talent to shut up and listen I have found is what differentiates the good from the bad.

Re:Currently Transitioning (2)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014152)

certainly not genius level, I've met geniuses, I can't understand half of what to them is simple

A genius enjoys making something that looks hard easy to understand - that takes insight, even a "stroke of genius". I think what you encountered wasn't genius, but BROs (Bipedal Rectal Orifices a.k.a. walking ass-holes - cf: "Don't taze me BRO!") (okay, that example was a backronym, but it works!).

Re:Currently Transitioning (1)

sander (7831) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014444)

And what do I need people who think that "shut up and listen" is a talent, for? Blind obedience is useless eve in a janitor, never mind somebody who will need to operate complex systems.

Re:Currently Transitioning (3, Interesting)

CPTreese (2114124) | more than 2 years ago | (#38015040)

I suppose I should specify my statement. It is important to shut up and listen to your subordinates and in turn give their statement voice. It doesn't intimidate me to manage people that are clearly more intelligent than me, and to promote their successes as their own (I never steal credit for someone's work or ideas). I also regularly fought higher authority and at times flat out told them their ideas were stupid.

Re:Currently Transitioning (1)

sander (7831) | more than 2 years ago | (#38015132)

You are right on this. Unfortunately, much too often, "shut up and listen" is only applied from the perspective of the subordinates shutting up, including by over-eager to please subordinates.

Again, in my experience, past experience in armed forces tends to encourage this.

Ross Perot and EDS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38014112)

Perot served in the Navy and supposedly hired a lot of veterans at Electronic Data Systems, his firm that did enterprise system consulting and IT facilities management work (and probably the same at Perot Data Systems, the outfit he started after selling EDS to Roger Smith's GM in the '80s). That strikes me as a good match between jobs and personalities.

Re:Ross Perot and EDS (1)

biodata (1981610) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014762)

I worked for Perot Systems for a while and it was a good company. The guy clearly had strong business skills, and was a good communicator. He used to email us all every day, which was kinda cute, and also noone had job titles or ranks - we were all 'Associates'. I guess business culture might be a problem for some potential veterans moving into the private sector. When the mission is to provide service and innovation for a profit, it does help if you have had some experience of this, and when the culture requires that you establish your own authority based on your actions, rather than have it provided through a chain of command, some might struggle, I dunno.

The military's a great place to learn how to... (0)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014174)

"The military's a great place to learn how to kill people and break things"
With a starting line like that, I can tell this guy isn't politically leaning to the Far Hippie Left.
I have a friend in the military what does he do... He plays Trombone.
My Dad was drafted in Vietnam, what did he do... He fixed cars and helicopters, he was never in combat.
The military goes out to dangerous places and their goal is to offer humanitarian aid.

But when you have people who want to kill you or your allies, you better be more then ready stop them and if they are not going to back down with words, you better be ready to stop them using more forceful methods...
While the military is there to perform wars, it goal isn't to kill people and break things, they kill people and break things when they have to and they will do it as best as they can.

Skills translation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38014230)

I've worked with ex-military types before. Some are great, especially in my area (systems) where attention to detail is very important. Others are just like a typical low-achieving civilian employee. The old adage "you get out what you put into it" seems to apply to the military too. Positive qualities I've seen are the ability to work hard, stay focused and complete tasks. Negatives are the typical ones you'd see with a rigid chain of command -- less of an ability to interpret a request and think up a better solution.

One of the other things I've seen is that the military has a lot of jobs without a civilian equivalent. Sure, if you're a diesel mechanic repairing troop transports, you can be a diesel mechanic repairing over-the-road trucks. But, I once worked with a former Air Force guy whose sole job was to man a nuclear missile silo -- he would have been the guy (actually, one of two) who turned the key/pushed the button to start World War III. How in the world do you translate that to a civilian job, short of security guard? Or better yet, there's not too many legitimate jobs out there looking for sniper skills.

That said, on average, my experience has been positive with ex-military types. It's a great jobs program, especially in peacetime, and gives a lot of people who are willing to put up with the miserable quality of life an opportunity to succeed. If those of us in the civilian world are lucky, some of the good ones leave and take the positive attributes they learn with them. (I don't think I could ever handle the "moving every 1-2 years" thing, especially with a family though, much less the distinct possibility of being killed...so there's some extra points right from the start.)

Well, not really. (1)

thermowax (179226) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014482)

I've worked in a number of military-oriented institutions (TLAs, if you get me) and while I have nothing but respect for the warfighter, I rarely found any of them to be technical superstars. Like any population, there were a few, but overwhelmingly they were put-the-square-peg-in-the-square-hole guys. They could memorize a manual and know everything about a piece of equipment (well, on a sysadmin level), but innovation was not their strong suit. At all.

And this is why the government/military has had and will continue to have immense problems attracting really, *really* good people to work in their CyberCorps or whatever they're calling it now. There's too much procedure in those circles; good techies quickly go insane.

One thing I did find, though, was that *usually* the officers had damn good project management skills and knew how to solve problems, support their people, and get the job done. That skillset is really universally applicable to all fields, though, and not just IT.

They are hiring vets because... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38014494)

They are getting tax breaks on each vet they hire. It is all about the bottom line.

Interviewed some vets (1)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014526)

We've created about 6 positions at my employer over the past 2 to 3 years and interviewed a few vets each time. Typically somewhat older gentlemen, which could also be a factor here. But every time their skill set was a little obscure, and their personality was really hard to acclimate to, even in an interview session where everyone is trying to be as happy and jovial as possible.

That's not to say that they're bad guys, just that they might have a difficult time figuring out how to fit into a civilian IT environment. But I guess there's nothing new about that.

Transformative (2)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014594)

I had a good friend that went into the Navy. When he went in, he was far from thoughtful and responsible. When he got out, he worked his way through a Physics degree, and we hired him where I worked.

The military really can transform people.

Because of (0)

rossdee (243626) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014856)

1-800-PETMEDS means people no longer take their dogs and cats to the Vet for their health issues. So the vets are having to find other employment, such as Information Technology.

Eh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38014878)

Personally, someone isolated to a environment such as a naval ship who spends hours and hours training on systems that are not very well changing and in a disciplined user environment doesn't seem to be much of a real world IT skills than someone who continually faces hardware and software changes, users being dumb, and continual bugs for new loads. Based on the article skills, the person seems like they may make a good work horse who can follow directions but for the thinking on your feet and adapting to new changing IT situations doesn't seem to fit the military environment unless our ships are running bleeding edge technology and continually crashing.

The military is good for a few things... (2)

sco_robinso (749990) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014888)

I work in IT (sys admin), having spent a bit of time in the military. Military experience is certainly no stone-cold guarantee that you've got a quality person on your hands, but it does increase the probability significantly. Technical skills aside, the military tends to instill a fairly healthy amount of discipline, teamwork, and the ability to think/act under pressure. As my Dad puts it (formerly in the military for 12 years) - the ability to think and chew bubble gum at the same time.

You can have shitty people in the military, too, but the military is generally not an environment that lends itself to extreme incompitence, advancement out of nepotism, etc.

If I'm looking at a pile of resumes or interviewing candidates, I generally assume that if someone has military experience, they won't have too many issues coming in late, being poorly dressed, being disrespectful to team mates, etc.

Canadian Navy (2)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014962)

I have visited a few Canadian Navy ships and I saw some pretty old crap. Lots of RS232 and whatnot. The newest tech was all in the private hands of the sailors in the form of iPads to keep themselves sane. The main tech skills that the sailors seemed to have developed was how to select computers that won't die in the harsh environment and how to run cables through this nasty environment. So if you are wiring a building where you have a magnitude 5.5 earthquake 9 times a day and your server room has a salt water swimming pool then these Navy Guys might be for you.
Also looking at how the various systems were wired together I could see layer upon layer of upgrades where various proprietary systems had been hacked into the older systems. So if you need your sonar system upgraded then the Navy could provide you with a guy who understands what all the pins do in that 183 pin plug that someone thoughtfully painted gray.

Nothing lost in translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38015118)

As an 8 year veteran of the Navy who moved into a successful IT position in the civilian workforce I have to say my skills translated directly with very few exceptions. I left the service with experience administering Windows Server 2003 / 2008 (including Exchange), HP-UX, Red Hat, and all modern Windows desktop environments. Same goes for Cisco routing and switching equipment, as well as Alcatel / Xylan. I left the Navy with A+, Net+, Security+, CCNA, MCSA, MCT, Kitco Fiber Optic Cert, and 8 years experience.

About the only skills I have that didn't translate directly (or at least I don't use now) is SATCOM and servicing cryptologic hardware. Maybe one day I'll use the SATCOM again, who knows?

I'm very happy with the skills that I acquired, and I didn't have any problems finding a job in the down economy. Just speaking for me though, I hope other veterans comment as well.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...