Matthew Nelson joined the Royal Marines in 2011. Having completed their arduous commando course he set his sights on a long career with the Royal Navy’s amphibious troops. However, it was not to be. In this month’s dog tags to data tags Q & A we talk to Matt about the devastating injury that cut short his military career and the regain he made into a tech role in the commercial sector.
When did you join the military?
I joined in 05.09.2011 and served until 14.03.2014.
Who did you serve with?
I served with the Royal Marines.
Why did you leave?
During my time in training, I snapped my ligaments within my ankle and had a reconstruction. I opted for the Medical Board of Discharge because I knew I would have issues with carrying the weight required in the long-term.
Once you’d been medically discharged, how did you feel?
At first relief. I had been downgraded for a long time and just to be free of that torment was euphoric. However, slowly the feeling of loss, hurt and failure crept in.
How did you tackle the next steps? Did you have a plan?
I had started a law degree prior to joining the Royal Marines. My plan was to go back to University and complete what I had started. I did, and received a First Class Law degree from the University of Central Lancashire.
Did you always want to pursue a tech career?
I didn’t, I always liked tech, it fascinated me because of the way in which it could be used to do so many wonderful things. I never thought it was something i’d get to grips with, let alone end up working with. I initially discounted a career in tech, thinking it wouldn’t be for me but the more I learny about the different pathways and options the more I realised how suited I was. It turns out it is totally up my street!
What did you enjoy about the military?
Everything, the lads, the skills I learnt, the discipline, the fact I learnt I could do more than I thought was ever possible, the fitness, survival skills, being independent and just having a feeling of belonging.
What qualities did it give you to survive in the outside world?
A new mindset on how to approach things, having the ability to go that bit extra and put in more hard yards. I also learnt that continuous personal development is key. The world is ever changing, and I realised that I needed to keep up as best as I could.
Do you regret the end of your military career?
Everyday, I didn’t want to leave. I just couldn’t fulfil my ambitions with the injury I sustained.
What were your main concerns when you were leaving the military?
My main concerns were, what would I do next? What will I become? It was a time of much uncertainty.
Who’s been your main role model or mentor?
I have had a few, firstly the Royal Marines Charity and SSAFA have helped me, sustained me and supported me to start networking. I had a life coach who was invaluable and she prompted me to speak with a lovely lady called Lisa. She in turn put me in touch with James from TechVets and he took the time to listen and understand what I was after. TechVets spent hours with me on my CV and guided me through the community. From them I networked within TechVets and found myself a position at Lloyds Banking Group.
How has TechVets and the community supported you?
TechVets massively helped and supported me with my CV, interview preparation and feedback. They supported me throughout the whole journey towards landing a position within a company. Their help and support really drives you on to want to help yourself.
What advice would you give to people to other people who find themselves medically discharged from the military?
This is a hard one for me to answer because a lot of the time I would give anything to be in their shoes and be back in the military. I would say that undoubtedly you will have curated a set of skills/attributes that will out match most civilians, and that this is the mindset to take forward with you. The skills and mental strength that you learn really does set you apart. I was unaware of how many employers coveted the military mind and drive. It is scary and new, but you have the tools to succeed and so many people are here to help support and guide you.
Find out more about TechVets’ CV support