Get motivated to score a career in tech, IT, or cyber security after military service with Tom’s tips for veterans, service leavers, and those still serving who might take the leap.
Tom Mills Razorthorn joined up in October 2006 and expected to be in the army for life. He was a direct entrant soldier into the Intelligence Corps, serving with various units within 1MI Bde and eventually 1st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (1 ISR Bde) after its formation.
He thrived as part of a “focused, dedicated and loyal team,” but- like for many veterans in tech– a non-voluntary/non-blameworthy medical discharge cut Tom’s career short.
“I am sad my career ended the way it was, even if it was a potential eventuality due to my circumstance,” he tells TechVets. “My leaving journey, whilst it achieved the result of securing employment in a role I thoroughly enjoy, was turbulent, with a lack of clarity and communication throughout.”
Now he’s motivated to help you learn from his own choices. Here’s Tom’s story, featuring practical tips for the service leaver in cyber.
Transitioning from Cyber Niche to Cyber Niche
After being labelled Medically Non-Deployable (MND-P), Tom says he knew medical discharge would be next. He understood the process, but worried about where it would take him.
“I was extremely daunted and uncertain about the future and what I would do post-discharge,” he explains.
The same passion that led Tom to a career in army intelligence ended up shaping his next career move. He decided to pursue cyber security after military service, and made that decision while still serving.
His continuing professional development (CPD) choices kept him on track for a civilian career in that field.
“I researched similar job roles that fitted my niche experience and capability,” he says. “I tailored my CPD to suit InfoSec roles and consultancy requirements based on commercial needs…With the evolution of security and the introduction of cyber security as a concept and then security domain, it suited my passions and areas of knowledge.”
It never hurts to start preparing for your second career early. If you’re still serving but beginning to think about which new role might suit you best, check out the related link below.
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Growing from Strength to Strength
“My time in the army gave me communication skills, focus, passion for whatever task is required of me and the attention to detail needed to ensure outputs are to the highest possible practicable standard,” shares Tom.
In combination with his technical skills, those qualities helped Tom get the job he’s got today. If you’ve got a military background, it’s likely you’ve developed these same qualities and more.
RFEA research shows that ex-Forces personnel demonstrate punctuality, accountability, and a general professionalism that is highly valued by civilian employers. These employers also find ex-service people to be more trustworthy than the rest of the general public. All this while the UK experiences a large cyber skills shortage means it’s a great time to pursue a career in this field.
In short: don’t underestimate your worth. As Tom puts it, “We are HIGHLY employable in all walks of life – all it takes is to put your shoes on and walk it!”
RELATED: TechVets Partners with Google to Tackle UK’s Tech Skills Shortage
The Key: Reaching Out to Veterans in Tech
Even though Tom had a solid set of skills under his belt, he worried about finding his place outside the wire. He says “transferable soft and hard skills” were a concern- he knew he had them, but how was he meant to sell them?
“I struggled with imposter syndrome and the ability to deliver my proven knowledge, experience and capability within a commercial setting,” he shares. That’s where TechVets came in.
Tom found confidence and career guidance through our online community and cyber security training opportunities.
“The entire TechVets community has been at the forefront of my journey,” says Tom. “I’ve (mostly passively) taken guidance and direction from discussion threads and had the fortune to take advantage of training and certification opportunities along the way. Speaking with peers at face-to-face meetings and events enabled me to share stories and journey speed bumps and refine my approach to employability.”
His words to those following in his footsteps are clear:
“You are not alone. Seek and use advice where it can be given and do not be afraid to ask for help,” he shares. “There is a wealth of knowledge and support within the ex-forces community who are ALL willing to help. Do not be alone and do not go through the transition journey in isolation.”
To access support from peers and professionals now, take Tom’s tip and reach out to us at TechVets. We would love to have you join us here. You can also connect with us at [email protected], or keep reading for more first hand career transition advice.