In this episode, we chat with three different former and current members of our armed forces to get some helpful tips on transitioning from a career in the Military to a career in Tech as a civilian. John Berth, Julio Perez, and Tom Maryland join us to share their insights!
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VetSec is a home for those who served – those who are transitioning into or wanting to upskill into cybersecurity. We offer a community of like-minded veterans and a bridge to transition from the military into meaningful employment, with resources along the way to help you out.
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This is the Art of Network Engineering podcast.
In this podcast, we'll explore tools, technologies, and talented people, re-engineer new information that will expand your skill sets and toolbox, and share the stories of fellow network engineers. Welcome to the Art of Network Engineering. I am Tim Bertino, at Tim Bertino on Twitter. I blog at medication.com as well as artofnetworkengineering.com. We've got an excellent panel of guests for this episode.
this evening, really excited to jump into this. Joining me from the A1 team is the high flying, rocket connecting, shit posting, NFD 31 delegating, the one and only Lexi Cooper. Lexi, what's happening? That's the best intro anyone has ever given me, Tim. Thank you so much. I'm doing great. Like you mentioned, I'm going to be doing NFD 31, which by the time you...
listeners when you're hearing this episode, it will almost definitely have already happened. So I hope you got to catch the live stream. But yeah, I'll be doing network field day next Friday for the time that it is now for us. So I'm really, or not next Friday. I'm sorry. What am I talking about? It's next Wednesday and Thursday. Anyway, very excited. It's going to be awesome. Some of my favorite like, like network.
automation network monitoring tool vendors are going to be there. And I'm like super, super stoked about that because I've actually used a lot of their tools. So I actually have like useful stuff to say. So that'll be great. How are you doing, Tim? What's up? I'm doing good. Another day in the life. Things have been good. I was talking before we jumped on that. Yeah, things are great. Things are good. Although I was up till about 1.30 this morning trying to fix issues from an upgrade we tried to do. Such is the life. No, things are...
Things are good. Yeah. Did you fix the issues? It is life. Yeah, we ended up getting there. You have to roll it back? Tax support to save the day. There you go. Okay. Nice. Okay. I do think you'll enjoy NFD. You're doing it remote, right? Yeah, doing it remote. I can almost never travel anymore. They do a fantastic job with the remote setup. When I did it remote, I mean, it was two years ago, so I'm sure they've...
And it was great back then. So I'm sure they've even improved it and made it better. I did it last year as well, or I did it... Oh, okay. Well, was it two years ago that I did it? Man, I don't think it was a full two years ago, but they have so many events now that I lose track. But I've done it before and it was definitely remote at that point and they did a great job then. So I have no worries about this time. We're kind of doing a hybrid approach, I think. So they have a few delegates there in person, but...
Um, some vendors and some other delegates, including myself, will be remote. So it'll be a cool event. It's a, it is cool. It, it can be exhausting though. A lot they throw at you. Eight to five. Yeah. It's a full day. I really, uh, I'm working on those like tough questions that I'm supposed to have for the vendors. Um, I, I don't know how successful I'll be at that, but I'll do my best. We'll see. Nah, you'll be awesome. It'll be good. All right. Well, we teased it already. We have.
an excellent panel. We've got kind of a panel interview set up for this one. And it is the topic is transitioning out of the US military. And with us this evening, we have John Breth, Julio Perez, and Tom Marsland. Thank you all for joining us. How we kind of want to start this off is we want each one of you to introduce yourselves, give us that story of what drew you into the military.
of what you did during the military and how you transitioned out some of the roles you've had since then. So John, we'll go ahead and kick it over to you. How are you? Thanks for joining us. Yeah. Appreciate everybody having me on here. This is going to be great chat. So my name is John Breth. I go by JB. I have, I don't know, at this point, 20 years experience working in IT. Currently, I have my own IT slash cybersecurity consulting company.
My background is definitely more so on the network engineering and network architecture side of things, but I dabble in a little bit of everything. The reason I'm here is talking about my time in the Air Force. I joined back in 2003. Really didn't know what I was going to do with my life. I wanted to go to college, but I did not have any money to do that. And I was looking at the different options and I was just like, man, am I going to take out a whole bunch of loans? I didn't even really know what I wanted to do.
as far as career or even what I wanted to do at college. And yeah, I kind of just rolled the dice and went into Air Force Recruiter's Office, took what's called the ASFAB or the Armed Services Vocational Battery, which is kind of like an SAT, I guess. And then based off of that, they determine how well you score on that, you know, what type of jobs you can get. And I was like, well, I don't really know what I want to do. But computer sounds cool, even though I had absolutely...
no background ever doing anything computers. Some folks grow up playing with computers and all that type of stuff. No, not for me. I think my early desires are maybe to go to pre-law or political science or something like that. But yeah, tested well enough where I could pretty much pick any type of job that I wanted. They give you these huge binders of all these different jobs and I'm flipping through and I find one that's like, oh, this one particular job is kind of like working on setting up IT systems at NASA.
And I was like, all right, that sounds pretty good. That's got to make some good money, I think. Yeah. So I was like, all right. It's definitely got the coolness factor, at least. It does, right? So I was like, OK, that sounds really good. And the particular job role was 3C2, which is system communications controller, also known as a tech controller. It's pretty much a combination between telecommunications and a little bit of networking. And so I got in.
ended up luckily getting stationed at Andrews Air Force Base right outside of DC and got to do some pretty cool stuff, particularly with long haul telecom. It was one of the larger tech control facilities on the East Coast. And while I was there, I just started being like, hey, I got to take as much advantage as I can. My whole thing for coming into the Air Force was to learn and go to college. And luckily I had a lot of bosses that were supportive of that.
And I pretty much started taking a full load of college classes. So I was working full time and going to college full time. Uh, I was taking a whole bunch of different CLEP tests and stuff like that. I mean, at one point I think I did about 45 credits in one semester. I mean, I was just stacking. Uh, and because I was kind of, how typical would you say that is for active duty military service members taking college courses?
While they're in the military. Maybe not so much in the Air Force and especially depending upon what your job is in the Air Force. You definitely have the ability to take college classes for sure. I mean, you do in the other branches too, but it really depends on what your job is and where your office is or where you're deployed to, things like that. In the Air Force and the folks that I was working with, I would say a decent amount were taking college classes, nowhere near what they should have been because everybody should have been taking advantage of it because it was free.
But a solid amount of folks were doing that. We were always getting free training. So we had Cisco come in to do CCNA training. There was always other vendors coming in to do stuff. The thing that kind of sucked for me at that point was I wasn't necessarily in the mindset to even understand the CCNA stuff the first time that class came through. But then after a couple of years, then that kind of made sense.
With doing that and the college class and kind of putting myself really out there forward, I actually got selected for a special duty to support the communications for Air Force One and the rest of what's called the world's best family fleet. So it's all the fancy blue and white airplanes that you see, either the President or FLOTUS or SecDef. I got to pretty much monitor and manage the networks that they use.
at the ground entry points for their classified and unclassified communications. I have so many questions, but I'm not going to ask them now, but we'll talk. I got to do that my last year that I was in. I only did four years, but by the time I wrapped it up in that last year, I got to do that work supporting Air Force One. I ended up finishing my undergrad degree in two and a half years. I got a Network Plus, Security
Um, right before I got out, that was four years. Yes. Yeah. So that was, that was back when the CCNP was like four tests. Um, it was kind of crazy back then, but, uh, yeah, I mean, that definitely set me up, uh, to transition, uh, to get out, get a job, had no shortage of, uh, different companies that were interested in talking to me and bringing me on and, you know, went from, I mean, just to, you know, put it out there, uh, went from making, I don't know, $17,000 a year.
to 90,000 like that. So it was definitely life-changing, a lot of positives from that. And I didn't even tap into one of the other benefits that I'm sure we're gonna be talking about a lot tonight, the GI Bill. So I had that whole amount left for me. And as soon as I got out, got my first job, then I started going to grad school and got my grad school paid for, for free. Definitely sounds like you took advantage of it. Most definitely. I mean, I had,
my eye on the prize the entire time. Definitely worked with some other folks who were doing the same thing. And there was an awful lot of folks who didn't necessarily take advantage of that, which I think is kind of why we're all here tonight to be talking about different avenues and paths and resources that are there so that people can make the most of the time they have left in and then also set themselves up for success once they get out.
earlier on, but let's go back and see you've gone from all that to what are you currently working on right now? So I started a consulting company back in, I think I went full time with it in 2018. So I have different clients that I support doing everything from regular network engineering, all the way up to being the principal architect on cybersecurity services for tier one ISPs.
had some contracts supporting stuff like that. So a good mix of different things. Very cool. And you also teach some stuff about cybersecurity, right? Like you're also making content. Yeah. So I didn't even, I totally forgot to mention that. So I've written a book, I've been in a few other books. I have my YouTube channel, Cyber Insight, where I'm always doing different types of introductory level breakdowns of tech topics. I love doing lab walkthroughs, either filmed or live.
or live, I do an awful lot of live. And just like talking about network engineering, cloud technology, cybersecurity, offensive cyber, defensive cyber, GRC, Linux, pretty much everything. Everything's cool and there's always something to learn. Awesome. Okay. Yeah, that's quite the story from not being sure about computers to getting into the Air Force to working on Air Force One.
to run your own consulting business. That's quite the climb. That gives me hope because computers sound cool is basically how I got into networking. So, awesome. Okay. Yeah. I mean, sometimes you just got to go for something even if you aren't too sure. Absolutely. Like I said, it wasn't like I, I've never built a PC. Some people are like into those things and that's awesome. And they have a lot of strong suits with stuff. And for me, it just was
I like troubleshooting. I like being analytical about things and I don't know, I just find all of it interesting. So I think that having kind of that type of mindset and enjoying certain aspects of IT definitely helps out a lot. Awesome. Thank you, John. All right, Julio, life story. Go. All right. Let's see. That's tough to follow from John. Julio Perez on Twitter. You can find me at Julio underscore PDX. I am a solutions engineer at Arista Networks.
I've been in IT since 2011. So I was in the military from 2011 to 2017. The story it's interesting. It's not that different from John's is basically at a crossroads where the family is essentially asking me what, what is your next step? Like, what are you doing? You're about to graduate high school. And you know, the idea of going to college or university, it was there, but similar to the John, like we didn't have any money. Like there was, there was no way I could afford to take that step.
And I think kind of, yeah, out of the blue, it was kind of like, oh, you know, dad, I'm going to go to the military. And, you know, like, you know, fathers are like, oh, that sounds great. You know? And so I was thinking, shoot, I should probably get on that and start doing some investigations. So similar deal went to a recruiter's office. I actually went to, they usually put them all in the same location. So I went to a Navy recruiter, a Marines recruiter, an Air Force recruiter. And I think from the jump, I kind of vibed a lot more with the Air Force recruiter.
Um, and the roles that were in the air force kind of suited what I wanted to do a bit more. Uh, John mentioned he was a three C two when I was joining that was almost being phased out and I actually became a, uh, cyber transport systems. That was our role. So we were a three D one X twos and I'm sorry if we use a bunch of acronyms, but the folks listening that have been in the military, they will know, uh, they'll probably know these, uh, these job codes, but, uh, uh, cyber transport systems. It is.
I think the most direct translation to what a network engineer would do in the Air Force. The high level premises, you're moving information right from point A to B, but there is a caveat with the military because you're moving data from point A to B, it doesn't always mean it's going to be ethernet, right? This could be video signals. So you might be stationed with a video squadron that their role is to produce, you know, just video content for the military. And that's one of the roles I did.
Yeah, so I joined, went to, I got very lucky with my first assignment. I went to Guam. I was there for two years. That was incredible. And a little bit more in that role was more sort of like managing a campus network. So campus environment, you could think of that as like a very large campus, essentially a base network. So we were base communications. That was our role. And shout out to John when you mentioned tech control, we actually worked hand in hand with some of our tech control folks. So that kind of brought back some good memories.
After that, I moved on to Utah, which was my last assignment. Same thing as John, kind of hit the books, got my degree and just prepared to transition. I was lucky in that I applied with enough time to sort of get my name out there, right? Started applying to all kinds of enterprises. I was actually lucky. I was hired before I left the military, which I'm sure we'll dive into just tips and tricks and all that good stuff.
But I got essentially a junior network engineering role, right? Doing all the network configs, upgrades, long hours, on call, all that good stuff. And then eventually just kept climbing the ladder and now I'm here with the rest of the networks. So when you, for those of us that don't have military experience, when you get a degree when you're active duty, who is that degree from? Sure. So for the Air Force, the first stage would be usually...
you'd get your CCAF, which is the associates through the Community College of the Air Force. Now, something John mentioned is I also took a bunch of cleps to essentially get that as fast as humanly possible. So even till this day, I still have the GI funds that I could use for even more schooling, which is a huge benefit. But yeah, that's usually the first part. And then you go to whatever university you want, either local or online, depending on your situation. Oh, okay. Very cool.
And some bases actually have classrooms and stuff like that, that they bring in instructors from different colleges actually on base. Interesting. Okay. I wasn't aware of that. Yeah. What a great benefit. Okay. Awesome. Well, thank you, Julio. Okay, Tom, if you don't mind, Tom Marsland, would you give us some background on yourself? Yeah, absolutely. And thanks for having me here. The joining the military story isn't very different. I joined the Navy in 2001.
prior to 9-11, just before it. And actually I was in bootcamp for 9-11 and 9-11 happened to be my 18th birthday. So that was a day that I won't forget. But, you know, recruiter came to my high school actually and it was spring of 2001, like three months before I was finishing. And I said, well, I don't really know what I'm gonna do yet. And this sounds like a great opportunity. I knew I liked computers. I had worked with my uncle. He ran a software company in Washington state.
prior to joining the Navy. So I knew I wanted to do something technical. The recruiter was, you know, I think they get a little bit of a bonus based on what job fields they recruit you into. And so they recruited me into nuclear power in the US Navy on submarines. And I've been doing that for the last 21 years. So I'm an electronics technician is my job title, a nuclear electronics technician. I work on really the industrial control systems.
that work on controlling nuclear reactors. So PLC configurations and things like that. Through my time in the Navy over the last 20 years, I've kind of been all over, but I have ended back up in Washington to end my career. And I've already gotten my first job offer for my post-Navy career. My retirement's here next month. But on the side, when I came to Washington state and landed finally on my shore tour where I'm not being deployed,
I started looking ahead at what I wanted to do post-Navy. While I was on my shore duties, I also went after college. I went to Western Governors University and got my bachelor's in IT security and then got my master's in cybersecurity on this last shore tour and did all that through the Navy's Tuition Assistance Program. So I also still have my GI bill, even though I've gotten my bachelor's and master's done.
I'm looking forward to figuring out what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to get into IT cybersecurity. I worked in a couple of positions here in the Navy where I could work with computers. I managed to help desk for a schoolhouse for a couple of years and worked on my CCNA and CCNA security and worked on some things like that. And so I knew I wanted to go into cyber and I knew I wanted to really plan ahead because I've got a family to support and wanted to figure out what I wanted to do. So...
Couple of years ago, I found an organization that worked to help veterans transition into cyber called VetSec. And I started listening to the stories of the veterans there and what they had done and what their advice was. And after about a year of being with the organization, they were looking for volunteers to help run.
volunteer and lead. And so that's what I've been doing on the side for the last couple of years while I work on my own transition out of the military and trying to give that advice and pay it forward as much as I can. Yeah, Tom, I think this organization is super interesting. I wanted to, I was doing a little bit of research and I wanted to read at least the first part of the mission statement I found online. It reads, simply put, our mission is to create a world where no veteran pursuing a career in cybersecurity goes unemployed.
501c3 nonprofit accepting active duty reservists and veterans from the United States and friendly nations into our community. We want to provide the nearly 200,000 people who transition out of the military in the United States every year with a path to employment in cybersecurity if they desire. That's quite the mission statement. So what are...
What are some of the methods? What are some of the tactics, some of the things you do to help people, train people and be able to transition into cybersecurity roles after the military? Yeah, Tim, thanks for reading that. I appreciate it. And John and, or JB and Julio, please chime in. The struggles that we have seen with our membership in VETSEC, simply put, we have about 5,000 veteran and active duty members. We run a Slack community platform and-
It's really just members paying it forward, but we partner with training providers like CompTIA, the SANS Institute and others that are willing to either give deeply discounted training or free training to our members. The big thing we focus on is education and community. We found that people transitioning, a lot of them don't know really what they want to do because they were kind of told what they were doing for their whole military tour and they don't have a good knowledge of the job landscape.
I would say 80% of the members that join when they say they want me to get into cybersecurity, they think they're going to be a hacker when they first join. And after a few months of talking to them about what the job landscape actually is like and what roles are out there, we focus a lot on that education. The other weak areas we find is professional networking is a huge focus for us and resume assistance. Those are the two real areas that we try and focus in. And then we...
kind of show the road and give the training opportunities and let them kind of go their own way. Do you have something I realize? Oh, sorry. Go ahead, Lexi. Go ahead. You're fine. No, Tom hit on something really important is when you're in the service, whether it's four years, six years or 20 years, that is a long time where you never had to worry about your job security or write a resume. So for anyone transitioning that skill, if they, you know, weren't in the, you know,
civilian side before working on some roles writing resumes, they've either just never had to do that or they have to start from scratch. So that is a huge skill or something that should definitely focus on when you're getting, not even getting to, just even before you're transitioning, right? Practice writing resumes. Give that to your friends, give it to people that have never been in the military because your writing style is very important. Does it make sense? Are you using a lot of acronyms that...
your management, your future management won't even know what you're talking about. So that's a really good point. Yeah, earlier I was going to ask, do you have a list of things, off the top of your head, anybody here that we want to touch on, of things that people who are currently in the military about to transition out need to start or you highly recommend they start doing right now? Other than it sounds like resume is a big deal, right? What else would you guys recommend?
For one, I would say, I would say start early, as early as humanly possible. So when you join, you're going to go through basic training. So you're naturally, you're not going to have any time. Then you're going to go to what we call our, our, our technical schools or tech schools, uh, you know, other, other folks, I think army calls it like your, your MOS school or something, but those, that time in your service, you're most likely very busy and
At that moment in time, you probably won't have time to go to a go to four certification or go to college or you know, your online online schooling, for example. But once that finishes and you get to your first duty station, once the dust settles, right, and you're kind of it's in slower mode, look into certifications, you know, what certifications are people getting out into civilian side education, right? Secondary post secondary school, start going to night classes, go to online schooling. So start early.
be my big tip there. Okay. So don't just wait until you're right at that, like the edge of transition. I've seen it and I'm sure John and Tom have seen it there. You know, there's a lot of fun to be having the military. You're young, there's money, you don't have too many bills. That can't happen right now. Four or five years have happened. You have one year left to sort of get things together to transition to the civilian side. That definitely happens. So start early. Now I'm, you know, like we warned you before, Tim and I aren't...
don't know a whole lot about the military. I seriously don't know anything. So here's my question. At what point do people start to transition typically? I know you have a certain number of years you need to be there, but then at a certain point, when do people – I know you can probably choose to go on farther, I'm guessing, for longer. How do people make that choice to transition at a certain time and when do people typically do that?
So I think that depends on a few things. So you kind of have the folks who are just in for their one contract and are getting out either out of choice or they're not given paperwork to keep staying in, right? And sometimes that happens, they call it four shaping. It really depends upon the level of folks they have and the level of jobs they have and how that kind of all lines up. And once you kind of make that
decision or that decision is made for you, then you kind of know, okay, the date I'm getting out is this date. Folks who are staying in and retiring, I think that probably differs a little bit more and they kind of have a little bit more over a longer period of runway and Tom can maybe speak on that. The other thing that's interesting now, and this wasn't necessarily the case back when I was in, but I know some folks who are getting out or have already got out, there seems to be a lot more of an emphasis on...
having these transition programs that actually let you go and get a job and that's part of your transition. So you can go and get a job and they kind of put you on this specific type of leave where you're still in the military, but you're allowed to go and start working for a company. And you've already begun kind of your transition period. Like they, you aren't really coming back to do anything for them at that point. You're just kind of like running out the clock on the rest of it.
Is that typically like a, you know, is that like a part-time job type situation or is it really like people working? I think it's supposed to be a full-time job situation. Wow. Yeah, I can speak a little more on that. I can speak a little bit more on that. So the Department of Defense over the last couple of years has built a program called SkillBridge and it's meant to be an internship program. So the military keeps paying you for your last six months in the service. And as long as you're the place you're stationed at.
has enough people to kind of let you go and do that. It's up to the command that you're at. They can let you go and you can apply to a company that has these openings that are willing to accept these interns approved by the Department of Defense, and you can work full time there. And the only requirement on the company is that it has to have the potential to lead to employment with them. But they don't pay you while you're there. The military is still paying you and you do your last, up to your last six months.
doing that. As far as the Navy side of whether you stay in, our contracts are typically four years depending on the job. Mine was a minimum of six years when I first signed on. And then it's like JB was saying, it depends on how in demand your job is. If there's too many people for the job field you're in, they might ask you to retrain to a different job or they might say, okay, well, at the end of your contract, you can go ahead and leave. For me, the nuclear power side.
was always high in demand. There's never enough of us. So it was our choice. We could stay in if we wanted. And the bonus money to continue to stay was pretty good for the military side of things. So that was easy to make that decision. And you know, the, the thing with the, the internship program and with what Julio said about starting early, that's, that's my number one piece of advice to people too is.
In those last six months, you have this time where you can do this internship program. And that's great. You also have to think about, am I going to go to college or am I going to get a job and when am I going to use that GI bill? Am I going to stay in the area that I'm stationed at right now? Or am I going to move back to my hometown or where am I going to move? And then you also have to think about all of the things that you have to do to get out of the military, because there's a lot of hurdles that you have to navigate there. There's classes that you're required to take.
to teach you how to get out of the military that are run by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Labor. And there's also medical screenings that have to be done before you get out of the military to apply for any disability from any injuries you sustained while you're in or anything like that. So there's a lot of things kind of crammed into that last six months. So definitely starting early and having a plan when you're getting out is pretty key. So it sounds like the educational opportunities are abundant.
things like SkillBridge with the internship opportunities. How do active duty personnel find out about these programs? Are they pretty well advertised? Do you need to go find these things on your own? Is your command telling you about these things? How does that work? From my side, I think it varies by the command. Some are way better than others at sharing that information. If you're the kind of service member that kinda...
is content to just kind of go with the flow and not really plan ahead and you're not seeking those things. It's easy to not see them. But if you're paying attention and thinking ahead of what you want to do, they're advertised well enough, I would say. Go ahead, Julien. No, I was going to echo the same thing. As far as when I was in, I felt like the benefits were advertised to us a lot. Again, it's more of, are you going to do the legwork? Do you have the time? Are you in a position where your field? Are you...
deployed a lot? Are you working long hours? Some people might have a little bit more of like an office role type gig, right? Where eight to five where you can get off, go to night school, things like that. So it does vary situation to situation. Yeah, I would definitely agree with both of those. I mean, and it even comes down to just your direct leadership and how much leeway they're giving you to be able to do those things. Either after work, or even during work, sometimes, you know, they might support you doing.
different things like that. And I think our Lexi and Tim, are you either of you familiar with clep tests? No, I heard that. I heard that acronym or that phrase a few times and I, I yeah, right over my head. So what a clep test is, and you don't need to be in the military to do this. Anybody can go do this. It's a college level entry. Is it college level? I'm going to jack it up. But it's in essence, a core, not a course, a test that you can take for a whole bunch of
of general level classes and electives that if you pass the test, then you get the college credit for it. So most colleges accept them. They have limits on how much they actually will take and which ones it might be. So a lot of colleges maybe will let you take an English one, but they still want you to take their English 101 through their college. But you could maybe go take some college mathematics or algebra or some basic history classes. And
Really, that can help fast track your degree progress, especially if you did well in high school and you kind of already had a background on those types of things, then you don't need to waste your time and your money go taking your requirements classes that you might already know the information for. So those particular tests, they actually have them in the education offices on each of these bases. And you pretty much can just show up and schedule to take them.
And you can take as many as you want. They're free. Uh, and again, it's kind of one of those things where people will mention it, but if you aren't in the mindset to be going after that, then you might sleep on it. You might forget about it. Uh, and then if the, you know, your leadership is cool with you bouncing to go take them at the hours when those tests are available, then, you know, that's kind of supportive too. So it's really being aware of what's there, but then also being in the mindset where you're ready to take action on it. Because if you don't.
I worked with plenty of folks who didn't do anything their entire four years. They were in tech, in the military, could have turned that into a really solid career outside. And once it was time for them to get out, they didn't do anything and they didn't move into a tech job and they went back home. John, you mentioned taking advantage of some of these opportunities and your leadership being okay with it. Do you have any advice for people in the military?
actively for approaching their leadership when they want to go after some of these opportunities. Do you have any tips there on how people should approach that? So it's kind of the same type of recommendation that I give for folks just in working regular jobs. Most folks have a first line supervisor that they report to and most folks end up having some type of...
either six month review or annual review where they're like, hey, you're doing a great job or you suck. You need to work on these things. And normally at that point, you're identifying goals for the upcoming year. I think one of the best things that anybody can do in either of those situations is using the systems that are in place to get the things that you want. And so if you want to be taking these classes, you want, you have the goal of, you know,
getting these CLEP tests, you have the goal of getting training for certifications, you have the goal of working on your degree, putting that down on paper and getting your supervisor and their supervisor to acknowledge, agree and sign off on that kind of really helps putting the rubber to the road as far as making sure that you potentially are getting the right type of support to be able to go after those things. Great advice. So all three of you guys were in tech roles in the military.
Right. I'm guessing there's people in the military now looking to transition out who are not actually working a tech role, but they're interested in getting into one when they leave. Do you all have any advice for people in that situation? Yeah. What I will say is look into, there are a lot of fields in tech to go down, right?
operations. So do your research and try to explore what those roles entail. Are you going to enjoy that role? Is it something you could see yourself in? That's one. And then I mentioned it before, but if you do hone in on one, look at what certifications or what training is being done out there, right? So go after that, whether it's something like a vendor certification, security plus network plus, go for that. Those are, yeah.
Is that something, so if somebody is in a non-tech role in the military and they're interested in a tech role when they leave, does the military still support them getting that training while they're still in, even though they're not in a tech role and it's not probably related to the job they're doing at that point in time? Probably not that it would be sort of, sometimes you could be sent to training assignments, but those would be related to your current role, right?
know, an ammo troop making like bombs, but be sent to like a tech training, that probably wouldn't happen. But you can still, you still have the benefits of tuition assistance and whatnot to still go to take tech training. Okay. I would also say it also depends on like how much longer you have on your contract and how long you want to stay in. Because if you really have the goal or desire of getting into a tech career,
They do have retraining within the military. That's always an option as well. So like, let's say you're, you know, you're two years in or you're three years in, and you don't mind hanging around for six years, eight years, something like that. Um, you definitely have the potential of trying to apply for a tech role and getting accepted into that and then going through the whole training process again, to get into that job. Okay. Um, another, another thought is.
Because we're coming from technical roles, we had the advantage that when we went to apply to new roles, we had that on the job training, right? That could be listed towards a technical career, but if someone is starting fresh and they have these certifications but they don't have on the job experience, that is really where you're gonna have to, in a way, get your name out there, right? Twitter, collaborate, use your network, make YouTube videos, write a blog. There's resources. You can start a blog for free.
GitHub pages, you can host your blog for nothing. If you're learning something right about it, right? So there are ways for you to get awareness in our community as IT folks, network engineers. That's another point with that too. And one other thing that somebody could leverage, and that is if they have a security clearance, even though they're in a completely other type of job, that is going to be a ticket for them to be able to go after.
any other types of jobs security clearances. Just because of the fact that there's such a large amount of positions that are open with that. And at least would open the door for them. So in kind of the scenario Julio was talking about where they don't actually have the hands on stuff, if they have the security clearance and maybe they get a couple certs, it definitely will at least get them in the door for some interviews. Because a lot of people, it's kind of interesting. A lot of people leaving the military don't have a lot of...
high confidence in themselves about the impact they can have once they get out into the commercial environment. Right. I guess why is that? Is it the thought that they don't think that there's a lot of transferable skills from what they're doing in the military to outside of the military? Or what is that? Where does that lack of confidence come from?
I think that it's just the unknown. You've been in an ecosystem for a certain period of time and you don't know what is out there. You just see this other environment where it looks super sexy in the movies, right? You know that people are making tons of money out there and you're like, I'm sleeping on bunk beds here and the chow hall. I don't know how my skills are going to transfer.
Although in reality, a lot of the intangible things that you pick up for military services are things that employers absolutely love, right? The fact that you've been continually showing up for your employment for a long period of time, hopefully, you know, with no issues, you know, right? You get out with an honorable discharge. You're able to work with others, right? Again, hopefully. But all of these things that should be kind of intrinsically built into someone who's transitioning out of the military.
are all things that when you're in the military, you kind of sleep on that because it's just normal, it's part of the culture. But then moving from that and going out and getting a job outside of that, all of those things are nice little checks that kind of differentiate you from someone who, let's say both people have degrees, but this other person has four years of experience in the military, but the other person just has the degree is getting out of college. The employer is gonna look at all those other intangibles and...
is going to lean towards that person. So it's just, you kind of need to paint that story for folks. And then they kind of realize, oh, okay, I actually am bringing a lot of things to the table that I'm not even really aware of. Something I just want to touch on, there are also opportunities where the hiring sort of pick in between candidates, a veteran will get bonus points essentially to be hired. So that is already an advantage for a veteran. But something that John mentioned, which is
Very important. You said interview and something I saw when I was transitioning, there was a course and Tom be correct because he's still in, is it called STARS, the program that helps train you for the by the VFW, I believe. Not familiar, Julio. Okay, I think it was called STARS, but I'm sorry if I get that wrong. They essentially it's a one week course where you go through writing a resume, tips to getting a role.
negotiation, salary negotiations, if you get accepted to a role, how to negotiate those. But one thing that was key was interviews. So now you've done all the work, you've gone to school, you got your degrees, you set out your application, your resumes and applications, but now you're in the interview room and you blow it. Because we don't interview. That's not something we've done.
So that is huge. And John's laughing because maybe he's seeing people bomb interviews. I don't know, but that is very important practice interviewing. So Tom, I'd like to get your take here on the whole retraining aspect. I mean, you've been in 20 years. What's your advice for people who may not be in a technical role, would like to while they're still in the military? Is there a strategy to it? Is there a specific timing that people need to be cognizant of?
because of what they're doing in their military career at this point, what does that look like? No, Tim, thanks. As someone who's been in for 21 years, the last time I wrote a resume before I was transitioning, I was never. The last job I had was McDonald's when I was 17. And now I'm 39, right? So there was a big thought of like, oh my God, it's ending. What am I going to do? And how am I going to find a job? I've got a family of four kids and my wife here. And what am I going to do?
transitioning from nuclear power to cybersecurity was definitely a challenge. And both John and Julio hit kind of on some things that I think are successful for anybody and it's to lean on those intangibles for me, just rising through the ranks naturally over the 20 years. I was very fortunate with the teams that I was with and the teams that I had the opportunity to lead, leaning on the leadership aspect of my time in the service as I started to interview was crucial.
The other things that you can do to get into the tech industry that some people don't think about, you know, Julio talked about all the different options in tech. Training is another big one. I taught at a couple of schoolhouses in the military and got my certified post-secondary instructor certification. And so I was able to leverage that and the company that I'm going to go work for is a cybersecurity training company. So I'll be bringing that. Also,
Other things like project management is pretty big among military people because we're used to going out and accomplishing a mission. No matter what your role is or what your job was in the military, there were times where the command said, this is the task for the group to go do, let's go do it. And so you had to go do it. And leveraging those skills, I think, is really key. One thing for myself that I found a lot of success in was...
asking veterans that had already transitioned out both through VetSec and just through LinkedIn networking, finding veterans in job roles that I thought I was interested in at companies and asking them to connect on LinkedIn and asking them if they have just five minutes where I could ask them questions about what their job was. And just the kind of veteran connection there helped me be wildly successful in that regard of just getting time to talk to 10, 20 people.
As I'm working my way out the door and figure out, okay, what is, what is the day in the life of that role look like? Because you still don't really know, right? Yeah. When a recruiter talks to you about the military and you say, yeah, I'm going to join, you don't know what it's like until you're on that bus heading to bootcamp and, and even then you have no clue what you're about to walk into. And it's the same thing when we're on this side of the fence looking to get out. It's, it's scary. It's, it's what are we, what is that going to look like?
Another thing that I would encourage anybody that's close to applying for jobs is don't be afraid to. I got very hung up on reading job roles and job postings and seeing this list of requirements and there's 10 things on there and I only have eight of them and I'm like, well, I don't meet the requirements. I guess I can't apply for that. I think a lot of people in the military coming out who are very procedure oriented, these are...
these are requirements, we have to meet requirements. And so they won't apply for those things. And so, things I've learned is, I got my job purely through professional networking. It wasn't through just clicking apply on a job posting, it was through knowing people, but not being afraid to click apply and tailor that resume and send it up, I think is big there too. That's great advice for anybody actually. Yeah. Yeah, put yourself out there for sure. Yeah.
So I find it interesting that all three of you guys in your own way, you help people, right? We have content creators here, Tom, you're on the board of VetSec. I guess I'm curious at what point in your individual careers you guys started gravitating towards that side of the technical field, right? Like wanting to help people. I know you guys don't just create content for vets, JB and Julio, but-
know, Tom, you're on the board of VETSEC. And like, I just, I really admire that about all three of you. And I'm curious at what point you guys kind of, you know, that mesh for you. And you're at the point in your career where you felt like, you know, it's time for me to give back or this is, this is now I want to make content, do like a little roundtable on this. Sure, sure. So, um, I think probably like, the impetus for that, for me, probably was two different things. First, um, my mother was a teacher. So I like, you know,
That was just instilled from the beginning. And so I think part of that is kind of like an homage to her. Um, but the other part, uh, and maybe everybody will agree with me, but being in the military, and especially being, uh, in tech, you're kind of forced into a teaching role as you start to gain experience and move up within the team or the group that you're on.
Right? So you're the new guy, you're learning everything you're doing. You're on the job training. That's great. And then you're there for a year or a year and a half, two years, and you start to get other new people in. And it's kind of your responsibility to get them brought up on other stuff. So part of the, the knowledge and information sharing aspect of that, I would say definitely was, um, at least kind of planted for sure.
uh, initially in the military. Now, as far as like actually creating real content, um, so I wasn't really doing any of that for, uh, for a long period of my career, like I've only been on Twitter, maybe, I don't know at this point, maybe four years, something like that, um, I've been on YouTube maybe two years, two and a half years. Um, and so it, it really was once I found that there were these communities outside of just the jobs that I was working at.
I think that kind of pushed me a little bit more to get involved in creating content and wanting to share information. I've had a lot of awesome mentors, both from a business perspective, a networking perspective, tech perspective that have always been super awesome at sharing information with me and kind of giving me wisdom so I didn't have to make the same mistakes as them.
the way that technology is, it's a lot easier to maybe condense those lessons or other types of lessons and share them with a wider group of people to make more of a positive impact. When I first got into tech, I mean, obviously, like the internet was there, but I mean, we're talking 2003. It's not like there was all these different podcasts and all of these different shows. That didn't exist back then. It literally worked.
IPX, SPX, you're like, no. So it literally was just the people that you knew that was your community, right? And, you know, yeah, there were there were some conferences, you know, like Black Hat and Defcon and stuff like that, you know, started a little, a little while back. But for the most part, you didn't really have this ability to interact and learn and share information with different folks. And so once I kind of got to the point where
I realized that those pathways were there, then it just kind of seemed natural to try to help folks out and share whatever wisdom or knowledge I had that could potentially help them in their career and for a bit of a while. In my case, I've really gravitated around writing, which led to a blog. That came probably twofold. A little bit of what JB is speaking of.
we want to help the next person, right? Inevitably, that's really what a blog is, right? You did a thing and maybe it was very hard or you couldn't figure it out, so you decided to wrap it all up in a blog so the next person wouldn't have to deal with that same pain you dealt with, right? That's one point. But for me, I think I grew to love writing in a way, and I'm not saying my writing is good, it's just I think I enjoy it much more now than I would in my- I love your blog, Julio. I just have to say, I do enjoy the way you write. I just wanted to.
Thank you. You're pretty fun. But then, so in tech, naturally, well, actually, this is like the only way to survive. You're always learning, right? Lexi, you're always posting about what you're learning and you're not ashamed to say, like, I have no idea what's going on. Whatever stupid shit I want to do this week. And that's totally fine. And that's totally fine, right? We all start from knowing nothing about a topic, right? So we start somewhere. So in my case, I wanted to, well, I'm exploring all these technologies I'm really interested in and they might not even be a part of my role. Like maybe in my role, we're not doing some...
crazy like layer three VX line EVPN thing, but it's interesting and I wanna learn about it. Or maybe I automated a piece of it. Maybe I can write about that, right? Then that can teach someone. But then there's another benefit. And this is the selfish part, my tongue twister, is when you teach someone something, you are learning it more, which is probably a little bit why JB makes videos, writing content, right? Because you, the, obviously everyone here who creates content, right? Tim writes blogs, Alexi.
putting all this together in somewhat organized way to present to someone so they could understand it, that is such a process and obviously repetition of going over and over and over and making it so it's repeatable for the next person. Like when you see one of my blogs, like it might seem well put together, but it was probably 20, 30, 40 times of iteration of failure to get something to work from A to Z all the way through so the next person wouldn't have to go through it. So that and...
Yeah, eventually, packet pushers pinged me, drew from the team and said, hey, would you like to write for us? In my head, I was mind blown. I was like, wow, you are pinging me to write on your platform? That's incredible. So, this is what I mean, right? Put yourself out there because things grow, right? You make more connections. Now I'm on the Art of Engineering podcast. So that is really where that comes from, right? So that's what we are now with content creation.
It is. I have things to say on that, but we won't go there yet. Tom, tell us about that second when you decided to get involved and what was behind that? Yeah, it was January of 2020, right before COVID when I joined. That was also the same month that I went to my shore duty and had a lot more free time and it wasn't deployed anymore. I knew that at the end of that shore tour, I was retiring from the Navy and I said,
You know what to do when I get out. I mean, I was literally just, just Googling, right? Cyber security veteran jobs. I don't know. Um, and I found, I found FedSec and I joined their Slack community. And like all the members that I try and help now that they're joining, um, I thought I wanted to be a hacker pen tester. I thought that was the way to go. Um, and that sec had a partnership with a company back then called the eLearn security. Um, now it's I and E. Um,
Y&E bought them and they were given away through the partnership, like 20 vouchers for their junior pen tester, their normal pen tester and their advanced. And I was one of the recipients of the junior one and took it, had an awesome time, had a ton of fun and kind of just fell into the leadership role there. I also have enjoyed teaching. I see the same, I saw the same questions from everybody joining.
You know, I want to be a hacker. How do I write a resume? How do I create a LinkedIn profile? How do I do this? How do I do that? Right. And, um, that's really where the desire came to be like, okay, there has to be some structured path that we can make. That's going to help people that really just want to go from military to cyber. You know, nothing big, like we don't want to cover all of tech. We just want to cover cyber security, which is big enough as it is. Um, and there was that. And then also.
The more time, especially during the pandemic, because I was on shore duty, I was pretty much also told like, don't come to work. Call in, stay at home, we'll call you if you need you, those kinds of things. But during that, I realized through my own transition and through hearing the stories of everyone else that we're going through it all, just kind of the mental health piece of you've had this military community, and for better or for worse, everyone there kind of understands what you go through day in and day out.
most of the time, and then you're leaving and you have this kind of scary corporate side. And one of the appeals to VetSec for a lot of people was that it was a group of veterans that could still talk about all that stuff. And they still had that kind of understanding. And so that really kind of felt like home to me after a period of time. And I joined like four months after the 501C3 was founded and like six months later.
Literally the entire board said, we're burnt out. We're not doing this anymore. Who wants to take it on? Um, and I said, well, I'll, I'll do something like, I don't know what, but I'll, I'll volunteer. Um, I actually volunteered to be the board secretary cause I, I know how to take minutes and stuff like that. And through the election process, the person that was going to be the board chair decided not to do it anymore. And everyone said, well, we're too busy to do it. And I said, well, it's the pandemic and I don't really have anything else to do. I guess I'll.
I'll do what I can. And I've kind of been stuck there ever since. The beginning of many good stories. Yeah. Wow. So how long have you been chairman of the board? Since June of 2020. Wow. Nice. That's fantastic. That's awesome. The common thread I see with all of y'all is the community aspect, right? It might be a different way of accessing a community, but it's still a community, which is very important.
There's a lovely lesson there for everybody. Military or non-military, right? Yeah. For sure. I love that. Well, our time here has really flown by. What I'd like to do is go around the table here and have you let us know where people can find you online and also give us one final parting thought here. Julio, let's start with you. Sure. You can find me on pretty much everything at Julio underscore PDX.
see me right sometimes at joliotpdx.com. I think it was echoed here, do not be afraid to go for that role. If you don't feel prepared, don't worry about it. You'll get there. Oh, awesome words, thank you. John, let's kick it over to you. Sure, so you can find me on Twitter at jbizzle703, on YouTube at Cyber Insight. You also could go to my company website where my blog is also there as well, jbcsec.com.
As far as like last words, I mean, just there's so many opportunities both within the military and outside the military for different types of resources to help folks succeed. Just don't sleep on it. Don't wait until the end. Try to figure out what you want to do, even if it's not completely nailed down, but at least be moving in that direction and make sure you take advantage of.
all the resources that are there, especially in the military, those are your benefits. You deserve those. That's one of the main reasons why you signed up. And if you don't take advantage of that, you're doing yourself. Awesome, thanks, John. And Tom, let's have you close it out here. What are your thoughts? Pretty much every platform at T Marsland, also at veteransec.org. My thoughts really, that both the military community and the tech community have similarities in that.
They're, they're pretty tight communities and people across the board seem to be willing to help one another. So, you know, to anybody that's listening, if you, if you have a question, if you are looking for advice, just, just reach out, find any of us and just reach out and ask the question, because I haven't met a single person that if you reach out with sincerity, that they aren't willing to help. Yep. 100%. That's so good to hear. Uh, Lexi, what are your thoughts? This has been an incredibly informative.
hour. Yeah, it really has. It's very enlightening. Thank you all for teaching us some things. For me, I'm just like, I'm feeling very warm and fuzzy because in the end, we're all humans, community matters to us all. I think a lot of the things that we talked about and that we heard from you guys in this episode really, even though they're US military specific, they still can apply to many, many, many people anyway.
We really appreciate your time. Thank you for teaching us. It's been great. Thank you. Yes. Thank you all. I do really feel like this is beneficial, not only for folks that are in the U.S. military today, but for people like Lexi and I who have no visibility into this. I think it's really interesting to see what is out there, what you all go through and what opportunities you have to
join life at Post Military. So thank you all for joining us. This was a fantastic learning experience and thank everybody for joining us on the Art of Network Engineering. You can find us online, artofnetworkengineering.com, on Twitter at Art of NetEng, and all of the other places that AJ always tells you to go that I always forget to. And also check out our new podcast, Cables to Clouds. You can find them www.artofnetengineering.com.
www.cablestoclouds.com and on Twitter as well, at Cable to Clouds. Thanks you all for joining us. This has been the art of network engineering. Take care.
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