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MetroStar Systems is featuring three veterans who have transitioned from the military to the civilian workforce. This mini-series will reflect their personal journey and their role with MetroStar. Our Front-End Developer, Joe, is our first feature.
Joe, a Florida native, has been living in Northern Virginia since 2011. He grew up in the Satellite Beach area outside of Orlando, Florida to a military and computer-driven family. This helped guide him towards the professional path he was set to go down.
In 2000, Joe enlisted in the U.S. Army after graduating from high school. He served active duty for four years and spent one year in the Army Reserve. Leaving the Army as a Sergeant (NCO), he knew his next step was to enroll in college.
Going back to his roots, Joe started school at the University of Central Florida as a biology major. With the financial help of the post 9/11 GI Bill, he knew college was the right choice for him to start his transition out of the military lifestyle.
“I think the biggest thing is that I knew I wanted to go to college,” Joe said. “Although, just like everyone else in their early twenties, you still don’t know what you want to do with the rest of your life.”
College helped him find new interests and passions, but he said having the strong discipline he had picked up in the military set him apart from his peers. He felt more mature and ready to take on pursuing his education.
After graduation, he took a job at a hospital contracting group that serviced hospital data. This sparked his curiosity for software development.
As it grew time to enter the workforce, Joe spoke to a friend who was once a recruiter in the D.C-area and they mentioned MetroStar Systems. He started at MetroStar in November of 2013 as a QC Engineer and is currently a Front-End Developer.
“I noticed first off that there were other veterans at MetroStar and when I joined there were about 122 employees, but there were at least three other prior services members that I worked with right away,” Joe recalls. “Just having that same background was cool!”
Having a group of like-minded individuals helped Joe transition into the workforce. Having other veterans in the workspace helped him grow a deeper connection, which combined his past self to his current self. He also highly contributes his transition success to his family and the veterans affairs (VA) resources that were available to him.
Joe highly recommends looking into all the resources and aid that are available for veterans. From financial, to education, and healthcare, the VA Offices can offer transitioning veterans with the tools they need to succeed post-military. The Army has a TAP program, which he recommends paying close attention to as they provide great assistance programs.
There are many things to contemplate during your transition, but finances were one of the main obstacles Joe had while transitioning.
“For the service, you get a paycheck every two weeks, but you don’t realize the finances that are not in that check are the things you will need for food and rent [in the civilian world]. You don’t think about that while you’re in.” His advice? Figure out how to create a budget and understand your new civilian health benefits (including VA hospitals) as soon as you can.
When looking for a new job, whether you attend college after the military or not, Joe found finding an organization or position that gives you opportunities to mentor and lead is important. The military teaches leadership and how to work with people from different backgrounds, so finding a similar workplace environment can be important to your growth.
“MetroStar has a good feeling of cohesion between teams and family. Everyone is working together to go for the same mission. We [veterans] have communities that we want to be engaged with and MetroStar fully supports all of that,” Joe said.