At TechVets, Jenna connects tech-curious veterans, Service leavers and spouses with cyber and technology job opportunities and life-changing professional contacts.
Looking for a technology career after military service? The TechVets team works hard to empower veterans, Service leavers, Reservists and their families toward jobs in information technology, cyber security, and the incredibly wide range of roles available in tech.
We do this through fantastic partnerships, online resources, training opportunities, and employment support- all delivered by truly passionate people. If you’d like to get to know us better, start here with the latest entry in our ‘Meet the Team’ blog series.
TechVets recently sat down with Jenna Richardson, our Employer Relationship Manager, to find out how and why she does what she does! Read on to meet Jenna.
Could you share a bit about your background and what led you to join our team?
I am scientist at heart, and this led me to a career in education. I taught chemistry and biology at secondary level before my daughter was born, however I chose not to return at the end of my maternity leave. I moved into the military charity sector and worked for the Army Families Federation (AFF), where I became the Employment and Training Specialist and AFF’s lead on Forces Families Jobs. After this, I joined the Forces Employment Charity as part of the EM3 Armed Forces Veterans and Families Programme which focused on supporting the armed forces community into predominantly tech-based roles. I worked closely with the TechVets team on this programme, and so the move to the TechVets team feels like a very natural progression.
What’s your connection to the military?
My husband is a veteran and prior to him leaving, we lived the military life together for several years.
As a new member of TechVets, what aspects of your role are you most excited about?
I am most excited about getting to know our members and making connections between them and our employers. If I can make an introduction that results in a successful hire, then it’ll be really rewarding to know that I played a tiny part in that journey. Also, the opportunity to learn more about the fast-paced, dynamic, and rapidly growing tech-sector is something I really look forward to.
How do you see your skills and experiences contributing to the growth and success of TechVets?
I have been building relationships with employers and training providers for the last few years and have had some fantastic outcomes. In that time, I have found that they are particularly interested in my own experience of Service life and the transition process I saw my husband go though. Being a military spouse puts me in a very special position with employers, because I am a civilian who has been as close as you can get to military Service without having served myself. It’s a very valuable and unique perspective to have.
It is these skills and experiences that I will be using to grow the TechVets employer base, to promote more employment opportunities to our members, to be the bridge between the members and the employers, and to continue to promote the high value of the Armed Forces community in the civilian workplace.
Can you tell us about a particular area or project within TechVets that you’re particularly passionate about?
I’m obviously very passionate about promoting the community and seeking out great opportunities for our members, but I am also passionate about empowering people to recognise and achieve their potential. The technology sector is a diverse and varied space, and I am so keen to help people to understand what their “place” within it could look like.
It is important to remember that almost all businesses now have a tech requirement and a career in tech doesn’t necessarily mean working as a software developer for a well-known, global tech company – there are opportunities everywhere, both technical and support-based!
What’s your perspective on the importance of supporting veterans and service leavers in transitioning to tech careers?
I believe that veterans and Service leavers have so much to offer to the tech industry, that supporting them to access it isn’t just something that we should do; it’s a strategic decision which is mutually beneficial to both the industry as a whole and the individual.
These individuals bring them a wealth of skills which are essential to tech-roles, such as problem solving, teamwork, leadership, a strong work ethic and adaptability. When you are working in an innovative and fast-paced industry like the technology sector, these skills are vital.
Essentially, veterans and service leavers are already great candidates for tech-based careers, so supporting them to equip themselves with the technical skills and qualifications that they need for the next step makes perfect sense.
How do you plan to engage with and support our community members in their tech and cyber career journeys?
I am in the process of learning how to use Discord, but I am getting to grips with that and am contactable through that platform. I am using the Job Announcement channel to highlight new and interesting roles that employers upload to the job board, and we are working on the CV Review Service which I hope to have up and running again soon.
I am also active on LinkedIn, so members are welcome to connect with/follow me as I share information and opportunities there too. But my absolute favourite way to engage with members is at events – there is so much to be said for some face-to-face networking! And we are also holding some events of our own this year that I will be working on with the team to deliver, so keep an eye out on the events pages for upcoming details!
Do you have any specific goals or objectives you’re hoping to achieve in your first year with TechVets?
I really want to shine a light on the successful employment outcomes that our members achieve. Experience tells me that this is tricky data to capture, and whilst the data is important, it’s just part of the story that I want to tell.
I am keen to celebrate the success and achievements of our members because we have some incredible people doing great things in the TechVets community. But also, these successes are so inspirational to others. It’s human nature to be inspired by someone that we relate to, so celebrating successes not only recognises and praises achievements of the individual, but it also empowers others to think about their potential and how they can reach it.
What are some of the biggest challenges veterans and forces families face when transitioning to civilian tech roles, and how do you think TechVets can help address these?
I think a challenge for veterans and forces families is the sheer magnitude of the tech sector because it’s overwhelming! Before I worked in the space, I was guilty of assuming that “a career in tech” meant being a web developer for Google (or any other international tech company!), but actually, that’s not quite true.
Of course, there are technical roles with the well-known IT companies, but there are also business function roles in HR, marketing, finance, admin etc. Also, you have other non-technical roles such as project management, risk management and compliance which are equally as important.
TechVets is doing a great job at breaking down the industry into manageable sections, which is enabling members to better identify where their skills and interests lie. Continuation on this path is going to make a huge difference to people which is going to lead to better choices being made to upskill, resulting in sustainable employment being sought. And the more education and simplification that TechVets can offer to demystify the industry, the better!
What are some of your interests or hobbies outside of work?
Outside of work, my days generally consist of managing my six-year-old daughter and a very needy Staffordshire Bull Terrier! But I listen to a lot of music from all genres and eras, and I adore live music. It doesn’t matter what it is; either in a pub, concert hall, stadium, field, I don’t care! To me, live music is like magic – I just wish I had some musical talent myself!
TechVets is a programme within The Forces Employment Charity that exists as a bridge for veterans, Service leavers, Reservists and their families into information technology careers. If you’d like to access our community of support and free resources, register to join us! For more insights from our experts, check out the link below.