In 2016, I left the military after serving for eight years in the Army National Guard. During and after my service, I worked as a security guard for seven years. While serving, I graduated from Texas Woman's University with a Bachelor’s degree in General Studies and a minor in Computer Science.
After leaving the military, I scraped together my savings to attend a coding boot camp. Despite my knowledge of computer science, the tech industry seemed impenetrable: Without experience that tech companies were looking for, the odds were stacked against me. With my security job becoming more demanding and not paying enough, I knew I needed to jump at the next opportunity that came my way.
While searching Craigslist, I found a Workforce Opportunity Services (WOS) posting. The educational training and full-time employment WOS was promoting amazed me. It seemed like something that everyone should have access to. After leaving the military, I didn’t have a strong sense of direction of what’s next as I entered civilian life. What drew me to WOS was how much the organization cares about end results and the overall career development of the veterans in their programs.
The WOS program was both challenging and exhilarating, but worth it because it gave me the necessary skills so that I could be successful in the workplace. I did my best to keep a positive attitude in order to persevere through the program and kept my eyes on the prize--a full-time job as a DevOps Engineer with the Automobile Club of Southern California. WOS gave me skills that I could directly apply to the workplace.
Programs like WOS are the future; it’s the gold standard. I would tell anyone looking for their break into the tech industry to apply to WOS. I really treasured having the opportunity to learn from instructors who were programmers, but the most valuable part of the program was the hands-on work-study at Auto Club that led me to my full-time position.
WOS not only prepared me to succeed in my new career but set me and my fellow program participants up for success by being the intermediary between us and Auto Club throughout the program. They held our hands as we were crossing the street through the academics and work-study and let go as we were ready to walk through the door into our new careers.
When I worked in security, I worked the night shift and often worked overtime just to get by. Now, I have a stable work schedule that allows me to take care of myself; I have enough time to sleep and go to the gym. The biggest change I have experienced since participating in the WOS program is the confidence I have in my future. My professional life is filled with optimism. I can see myself moving up not only in my career but also economically. I have my foot in the door and I can use that to catapult myself to greater things!