When I enlisted in the army 13 years ago, my plans were to serve for as long as I could and rise up through the ranks. For seven years I served as an Aviation Operation Specialist. Unfortunately, life had other plans for me; in 2010, I left the army and flew back to my native country of Korea to care for my ailing father. He was suffering from cancer and had to undergo a liver transplant. I was his liver donor match.
The experience of being an organ donor was surreal and intense. Not only was I risking my life, should there be complications, but I was also my father’s last hope for survival—a man who has been my inspiration since I was a child. Since the liver is the only human organ that can regenerate, I had to give it a try. I donated 70% of my liver in 2010, as of June 2018, 99% has been regenerated.
Following the surgery, it took me nearly two years to regain my strength physically and mentally, at which point I decided I needed to set new goals for my career. I initially wanted to pursue a career in marketing, since it’s what I studied as an undergraduate, but due to my lack of applicable work experience, it proved to be a difficult job hunt.
In December 2017 I learned about Workforce Opportunity Services (WOS) through a vocational rehabilitation center for veterans in Great Lakes, IL, near where I live. WOS was offering a program in partnership with a leader in technology-enabled health, wealth, HR and finance solutions to prepare individuals for project coordinator roles in the company’s IT department. I knew that the cybersecurity market would continue to grow, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to develop an invaluable skill set. I applied to the program in January 2018 and was accepted two weeks afterward.
I immediately started the training phase of the program where I took 8-weeks of classes that covered project management and IT systems. Upon completion of the academic training, I transitioned into the consultancy phase—which I’m currently in—where I am employed by WOS while working at the technology comapny. Currently, I am a Project Coordinator and I work with developers to coordinate and facilitate cybersecurity projects. Going through the different stages of the program allowed me to grow professionally and put me in the right mindset to be able to pursue my new career path.
Sadly, my father lost his battle with cancer in 2010. His advice about setting out to do something and making it happen has always stuck with me and helped me stay motivated throughout the entire program; I know he would be proud of who I’ve become. I am grateful to WOS for choosing me for this life-changing career opportunity as well as for their professional support system, which is what makes the WOS program unique. Without it, I wouldn’t be where I am today.