Taking the Leap into a Tech Career After Military Service

Taking the Leap into a Tech Career After Military Service

Meredyth Grant

Jordan Durham recently left the army to pursue his own challenging cyber security career. Here’s his advice for any veteran, reservist, or military spouse hoping to do the same.

Jordan Durham knows he wouldn’t be where he is today without his experience in the armed forces.

Joining at just 18 years old, he spent more than a decade serving: first with the 2nd battalion, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, then with the Intelligence Corps, followed by five years with the Royal Dragoon Guards.

“I’ve seen some of the 7 wonders of the world, I’ve seen every continent, all through the Army,” he shares.

So why (and how) does he now work in cyber security for a civilian energy company? Read on to learn about Jordan’s journey and tips for any ‘tech-curious’ service-leavers, reservists, or military family members looking to follow his path.

Taking the Leap into a Tech Career After Military Service

The world has changed a lot in the past ten years, and so has Jordan. Like many veterans we encounter at TechVets, he found himself ready to trade his fast-paced army lifestyle for something more stable and family-oriented.

“My priorities have changed since joining the military,” he explains. “I now have a wife and 2 sons. My main goal in life is to provide a stable and secure environment for my family. I wanted to start a new career with promising prospects whilst I was still (fairly) young.”

Jordan admits he was both excited and anxious to finally cross the bridge. He had a lot of concerns during his signing-off period:

“How can I portray my skillset in the army to civilian employers? What qualifications do I have, after spending all my adult life in the military? Where am I going to resettle? Where do my family want to be? Will I get a job in time?”

Now he’s on the other side of all that uncertainty, and he’s proud of his choice.

“I firmly believe that I signed off at the right time,” he shares. “I had squeezed everything I could out of military life. I will miss it, for sure. But I don’t regret my decision.”

RELATED: How to Combat the Fear of Signing Off

Succeeding in Cyber without Formal Qualifications

“I knew before I signed off that I wanted to pursue a career within Cyber Security,” Jordan explains. “I was asked to take part in an army-wide Cyber Defence competition 2 years ago, without having any experience in the subject. I found that I really enjoyed the competition and gained a passion for ‘Blue’ cyber security.”

‘Blue’ in cyber speak is the side of our industry that defends against threats and responds to real-world cyber security incidents:

For Jordan, TechVets was a valuable resource that connected him to key training and networking opportunities.

“I started by researching the different avenues within Cyber and found a pathway that seemed best suited to my skillset…I focused on studying to gain qualifications, and using sites such as Immersive Labs and Try Hack Me to get hands-on experience on the software used within Cyber.”

For free hands-on experience, you can explore the training pathways at the link below. They’re designed by TechVets in collaboration with our partner organisations to help you start from zero and work up to your own career in technology and cyber security.

RELATED: Free Cyber and IT Training Packages for Veterans and Service Leavers

Our support goes beyond training, too.

“TechVets have helped me at every stage of my transition, providing me with the information to formulate a plan, a pathway to study, tips on how to make my LinkedIn account more appealing and interview techniques,” says Jordan. “Some of these were given by TechVets themselves, and some were given by the forums on Techvets. Every person I have had the pleasure of conversing with on TechVets has really helped shape what I want to achieve in the industry.”

Jordan’s Advice for Service Leavers in Tech

Having freshly made the leap, Jordan has tips for anyone in the forces community who wants to land tech and cyber jobs. Here’s what he thinks service-leavers should keep in mind:

1. Don’t be hard on yourself: “Being scared is a normal feeling when going into the unknown.”

2. Think it through: “Don’t just leave the military because you’ve had a bad day/week. Ensure it is what you want [long term].”

3. Make a plan: “Have a plan for the other side. Research jobs that you may have a passion for.”

4. Reach out: “Speak to people within that industry…networking gave me confidence.”

5. Know your worth: “Don’t think that because you have no qualifications (I have none in IT), that you aren’t capable of going after the job you want.”

He credits the army with giving its members everything they need to succeed in the civilian world (if they know where to look)- including a supportive community, “and, of course, CDRILS!”

Ready to put your background to use in a technology career after military service? Connect with pros like Jordan at the link below, follow him on LinkedIn, and get more inspiration from other industry experts here.

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