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Pursuing a Passion Through IT Training: Michael Cost

Pursuing a Passion Through IT Training: Michael Cost

Imagine this. You’ve been serving in the military overseas. You have been away from American society for years and now it’s time to come back. You have no idea what you want to do with your life. So like any reasonable person, you decide to so some research on what career path would suit you best.

Upon doing your research you see the same theme over and over: IT. “What is IT exactly?,” you ask yourself. You know it stands for Information Technology but what exactly is Information Technology?

Alright, now that you have searched google you probably would have stumbled onto an answer like this, “Information technology (IT) is the use of any computers, storage, networking and other physical devices, infrastructure and processes to create, process, store, secure and exchange all forms of electronic data.”

You still might not know what exactly it is but you think you might have an idea. You decide to look into it a little more and you find a layman’s definition, “I.T.  refers to anything related to computing technology, such as networking, hardware, software, the Internet, or the people that work with these technologies.”

A light bulb suddenly goes off and you realize that IT is everywhere and is integrated into every part of your life! At this point you can now see why there are so many jobs in “IT” and why it is so popular.

The Road To An IT Career

These are the thoughts of veteran Michael Cost and many others career seekers navigating the sea of career possibilities. In Michael Cost’s case, this happened in 2013 upon returning home to the United States and separating from the military.

 

“I did a lot of research in regards to the job market and I naturally have a passion for technology and it all worked out!”

Michael’s success did not happen overnight though. He started by looking at what field he would be interested in and landed in Information Assurance or “Cyber Security.” Naturally his career compass pointed towards college. He landed at Colorado Technical University in Colorado Springs and 3 years later ended up with an Information Assurance degree.

Watch Michael tell his inspiring story about training at LeaderQuest Colorado Springs in his own words, below.

IT Certification Training

To ensure that he landed his ideal job it was recommended to him to check out LeaderQuest. He took took that recommendation and also decided to look into other training companies but landed on LeaderQuest stating that it was, “Their professionalism in the school, classes, and recruiters that gave me a good feeling about attending LeaderQuest.”

“A LeaderQuest employee actually drove me around to different veteran organizations to try and help me out. Either he was looking to get me in the door as another number or he was looking to genuinely assist me. As I found out the whole time I was here, these people were really looking out for me; they wanted me to succeed.”

He entered the Security+ certification training program and this is what he had to say about it, “It felt like they want to teach you and send you out into the world to be better IT professionals.” Before he even finished the training he was receiving calls for interviews, on one of the final days of his training he had an interview in the morning and was hired by that afternoon.

“LeaderQuest exists to help us IT professionals in this position to where we can build our careers.”

And successful Michael was, after receiving his certification he was hired as a tier two IT technician at Colorado Computer Support. During his time there and upon learning about Michael’s certifications and education, his boss decided to put him and another colleague on a brand new project involving Cyber Security, Michael’s passion. “This is the career path I chose and it seems to be working out really really well.”

IT Career Advice

His advice to someone considering a career in IT, “If you are looking to get into the IT field it is really important that you research the specific field within IT that you want to pursue. I would tailor your training, classes, degree, whatever into the field that you feel the most passion for and in the end that is what will lead you to success.”

Maybe like Michael you are thinking about entering the IT industry but aren’t quite sure what field in IT will be best for you. Luckily, LeaderQuest has the solution for you. We created a Computer User Support Specialist program designed specifically for individuals looking to break into the IT industry. What is so special about this program? It was designed with the job market in mind, that means it was designed to land you an entry level job while also exposing you to multiple different fields of IT.

Do You Want to Start A Career In IT?

The Computer User Support Specialist program is made of of 4 different certifications courses. The first certification  is called ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library), designed to help you align IT services with the needs of a business and provides a practical understanding of key concepts, principles, processes, and functions to enable successful IT Service Management. The second certification is the A+ certification where you learn how to identify, install, maintain, configure, and troubleshoot hardware, system components, and more. The third certification, Network+, is where you learn the foundation-level skills needed to install, operate, manage, maintain, and troubleshoot corporate networks. The last certification in the program is the Security+, during this training you learn a number of IT security skills in multiple different areas ranging from networks, computers, internet connected, all the way to mobile phones.

The program as a whole will give you a glimpse into each IT field allowing you to find out what area you would like to learn more about in the future. Interested in learning more about our Computer User Support Specialist program? Click the button below and fill out a contact form to be contacted by a Career Advisor to see if starting a career in IT is right for you!

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Realized Potential: Gilbert Avelo Jr.’s Success Story

Realized Potential: Gilbert Avelo Jr.’s Success Story

What do you do when you’ve already have a business degree and an associates degree in engineering but still aren’t in the position you would like to be in? Worse, you’re stuck working a manual labor job in a warehouse… That’s the position Gilbert Avelo found himself in before being contacted by LeaderQuest.

“I was stuck in a rut, I was stuck in a position where I didn’t know where my life was going.”

Current Process vs. New Process

It’s not hard to see why this problem is so widespread. The current process of training for employment typically involves years of college, accumulating an enormous amount of debt and no clear avenue for success. What if there was another way? A way that requires a fraction of the time, significantly less money, and has a clear direction. That direction is Information Technology (IT),cyber security, and project management. With a combined 600,000 open positions in the U.S. These three major fields are facing a massive shortage in workers.

Why is there such a shortage of workers? Not enough individuals have the skills to fill these positions and not enough people know how to obtain the necessary skills.

Watch Gilbert tell his inspiring story about training at LeaderQuest below:

Problem Solved

LeaderQuest has solved this problem! We can help you get trained, industry certified, and also hired into one of these booming industries. The best part is that you may already have a decent amount of skills both earned in college and by working in the real world that can be translated into these industries.

LeaderQuest will work with you to find out what your goals are, professionally and personally, in order to formulate a training plan tailored for you. We want to enable you to leave the job you hate and move into a career you can manage and be proud of.

This is the training solution that we proposed to Gilbert in Spring of 2017. In July of 2018 we caught up with Gilbert and this is what he had to say.

“If I could say one thing to the staff here at LeaderQuest, I would say thank you very much. You took this 37 year old man from being unsure in what he wanted to do in life to actually taking a step forward and getting me in the right direction.”

IT Training At LeaderQuest

Gilbert accepted the challenge of training with LeaderQuest and was able to achieve something that he didn’t know was possible. He started a new career in six weeks. He’s now working in a new field that pays well and allows him to utilize his many other skills.  He took the Computer User Support program here at LeaderQuest which involves training for the ITIL, A+, Network +, and Security+ certifications along with our project management training for the Project Management Institute’s Project Management Professional (PMP)  certification.

His specific program was designed to give him a strong foundation of IT and cyber security skills and fortify his business knowledge with the PMP certification. This combination was designed specifically in order to introduce him to the different sectors of IT and to strengthen his overall appeal to employers. He explained to us the integral role the LeaderQuest staff had in helping him succeed, ”The whole staff is really invested, they want to you succeed, they want to see everyone succeed.”

Career Services

During his training program he worked closely with not only the training staff but also the Career Services staff which guided him along the employment process. They helped him perfect his resume, cover letter, interview skills, and job hunting strategy to land as many interviews as possible. Navigating the job market can be confusing and stressful, but when you work with the LeaderQuest staff we make this process a simple as possible. We provide you with the latest tools and guidance to give you the confidence and skills necessary to land the job of your dreams.

Following Through

For Gilbert, he followed his program and it worked!  After his time at LeaderQuest he said, “I had 5 interviews and ended up getting hired at a company called Automotive Broadcast Network in which I do remote desktop assistance, I am getting my foot in the door while practicing IT and customer service.” He plans to gain as much experience as possible in order to keep moving up. Eventually he wants to come back to LeaderQuest and earn his CEH and CND certifications.

“If there is one thing I can say about LeaderQuest, I would say that they open up a whole array of possibilities that you one day didn’t have that you now have.”

It really is that simple. With so much demand for skilled employees  in the IT industry, there is a perfect position out there for you. The key is taking the next step in your interest and speaking to a LeaderQuest Career Adviser. If you’re interested, please fill out the contact form by clicking the “Get Started” button below. As always we advise to do your research, learn more about the industry, and when you get a chance stop by your local LeaderQuest campus and take a tour. We wish you the best of luck in the search for your next career. Feel free to reach out to hello@leaderquest.net if you have any questions.

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If I Can Do it, You Can Do It: Michael Fugett

If I Can Do it, You Can Do It: Michael Fugett

“Now I go out into a community, I go volunteer, I go help others, and people look at me like a beacon of hope. Look at you making it, look at you striving, but for me, I know none of this happens if I would have never come to LeaderQuest.” – Michael Fugett

Divorced, homeless, and alone. This is the situation military veteran Michael Fugett found himself in upon returning to the civilian life in May of 2017. As discussed in our previous blogs, homelessness among veterans is rampant and Michael was one of many veterans that fell into this unfortunate situation. Michael told us, “Life itself felt like it was kicking me down.”

At this point in his life Michael had two options: he could give into the grasp of depression and homelessness and fade into the background, or he could make the arduous journey of moving forward. “It was tough, but it created a drive within me where I knew I was going to succeed,” Michael expressed. This type of drive is not easy to achieve, especially since his struggles in moving forward continued to test his resilience.

Watch Michael tell his inspiring story about training at LeaderQuest Dallas in his own words, below.

Employers Want IT Certifications

Michael knew he wanted to work in IT, but it just wasn’t working out. “I just kept applying, but all of the jobs wanted certifications instead of traditional education. They actually show the employer that you know what you are doing,” he said.   This couldn’t be more true, as the gap between available IT workers and the amount of available IT jobs widens, hiring managers are increasingly looking for candidates with certifications.

Traditional education typically educates individuals mostly on theory while certification training focuses on the practice and knowledge side of IT. Certification also offers a much more accelerated track. Individuals looking to enter the IT industry can typically be trained, certified, and hired within three months of entering our accelerated program, as opposed to the traditional four-year route offered by most universities.

Do Your Research

Michael had some IT responsibilities throughout his 8 years in the military on top of his transportation, logistics, and finance roles. His limited IT responsibilities ended up becoming the springboard for his future success. Knowing that IT is a growing industry, Michael, while homeless, decided to do some research and find out how he could better leverage his IT background in order to actually secure a position in IT, since he didn’t have any luck before.

His conclusion landed him exactly where he thought it would: certifications. So he did the smart thing and and looked into three separate training companies in his area, one of which was LeaderQuest. “The first one wasn’t able to give me what I wanted, the second one only focused on finances, completely ignored what my goals were, and the last one was LeaderQuest, the only one I could tell actually cared about me.” Here at LeaderQuest we know that we are not a one size fits all company, so we do recommend that you look around, do your research and speak to current and past LeaderQuest students. The more you know the more confident you will be in you decision.

We Understand You

“They had understood what I had been through in the past, they got me,” Michael said. People just like Michael, military and civilian alike, share the same hopes, dreams, and struggles. We know that when you come to us in seek of a brighter future through IT certifications and training that your situation is most likely not ideal.

It is important to remember that while we are a company, we are humans just like you whose passion lies in serving military veterans and anyone with the aspiration of moving their life forward. We believe in doing this together but at your pace. You may be working a full time job or you may be unemployed, in either situation we will customize an IT training plan that is feasible for you and that aligns with your goals.

We also know that life gets in the way of plans sometimes and that is why we offer our Learning Guarantee. If you happen to miss a couple training periods or simply did not understand the course, we will reset your plan and allow you to take the course over at absolutely no cost and no hassle to you. This guarantee reaffirms our promise that we will provide you with the highest level of training with the utmost integrity.

IT Trained, Certified, and Most Importantly HIRED

After finding out he had some G.I. benefits available to pay for his certifications, Michael hit the ground running. Without a job or a place to go, Michael spent the majority of his next couple weeks at LeaderQuest, day and night, studying, doing labs and learning from his instructors. At the same time, LeaderQuest’s Career Services team was hard at work to find him a position.

After he knocked out ITIL and A+, the first two certifications of his plan, to his amazement he started to receive phone calls for interviews. “My first job offers came directly from LeaderQuest’s Career Services. The first offer was for $15. I interviewed at another company and it went up to $24!” He accepted the second position which allowed him to gain experience and prepared him for his next role. LeaderQuest not only trains and certifies, but actively seeks job opportunities for students during the process. The goal is to align an opportunity with your timeline so when you are done or at least have a couple certifications under your belt, you can get to work and gain valuable experience as soon as possible.

Where is Michael Now after his IT Training and Certification Training?

After he settled into his first role he went back to LeaderQuest while working to finish out the rest of his plan where he earned the CompTIA Security+, Network +, EC-Council CEH, CND, and CHFI certifications. As he gains more and more experience he’s also planning on getting his  CCNA, CCENT, and CISSP certifications — all at LeaderQuest. We recently caught up with Michael to ask him how things are going. “If you add in my salary and incentives I am making well over six figures; it’s nice. To go from rags to riches is awesome!” Michael now lives in his own two bedroom apartment and is on his way to owning his own home! He currently works at a bank with the title of Assistant Vice President, and position title of Infrastructure Senior Technical Analyst. His success came from his persistence and hard work. He reached his goal of becoming a beacon of hope for anyone out there who might be doubting themselves or anyone who is afraid to take that next step.

Advice from Michael

While talking to Michael it was clear that he wanted to help more people achieve what he has, so here are a couple of his top tips.

  1. “Do your research.”
  2. “Come in and see what it is like for yourself.”
  3. “Talk to other students, listen to the good as well as the bad so you can make a good decision for yourself.”
  4. “It may seem hard at first, but if you put in the effort you will see how rewarding it can be.”
  5. “Take advantage of all the resources available to you.”

Are You Ready To Move Your Life Forward With IT Training?

No matter what your situation, LeaderQuest will do its best to help you move forward. From the first steps of seeing if an IT career is right for you, to training, and ultimately to getting hired. We recommend that individuals looking to break into the industry take our entry-level Computer User Support Specialist program. We also offer advanced level courses for professionals looking to advance their careers in either IT, cyber security, networking or project management. If Information Technology sounds like an industry that you would like to look into, please do your research, talk to people in the industry, and schedule a tour at you local LeaderQuest campus today!

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How IT Training Helped a Single Mom Become an IT Expert

How IT Training Helped a Single Mom Become an IT Expert

Whitney had done everything right to create a bright future for her and her son. In 2013, she was medically discharged from the military and decided to use part of her G.I. Bill to get a degree in event management. She was able to land a job in event management at an expo center, but after two years decided that she wanted to move her and her son to Jacksonville to be closer to her family. That’s when her life and career started to move in an unexpected direction.

Unable to land a job as an event coordinator in Jacksonville, Whitney ended up taking a job at a call center. “It was definitely not what I wanted to do, I was making less money than people who had way less credentials than I had,” she told us. Whitney’s situation is not uncommon, according to the U.S. Bureau of Census, “just 27 percent of college grads had a job that was closely related to their major.” She had the education and the experience but a lack of jobs in her field left her career crippled, all while having a child to support.

Faced with the looming reality of her situation and few options at the time, she did what she had to do and worked the call center for two long years. Day in and day out, Whitney grinded to support her and her child. Unsatisfied with her life path at the time, she decided to seek other opportunities.

Watch Whitney tell her story about training at LeaderQuest Jacksonville in her own words, below.

Opportunity of a Lifetime with LeaderQuest IT Training

Whitney had her resume online for a bit but did not receive any offers worth looking into until a Career Adviser here at LeaderQuest reached out to her about IT and Cyber Security Training. “I was looking for a career change in order to make a better life for me and my son. I have always loved technology so I decided to check it out!”

Whitney, like many people, had never considered this career path before, nor was she aware of the major shortage of IT (information technology) or cyber security workers here in the United States. Some major reasons for this shortage are that not enough people know about IT careers, they don’t think they would qualify for a career in IT, or they just don’t know how to get started in an IT career.

Entry Level IT vs. College

Unlike a traditional career path, credentials for an entry level job in IT can be obtained fairly quickly, often in three months or less, compared to a traditional college education that typically takes up to four years. Our most popular program is the Computer User Support Specialist, where candidates can typically get certified and find employment within three to four months, even while working a full time job.

Even more compelling is the average salary of four year college graduates vs. entry level IT positions here in the United States. According to to a new survey by the consulting firm Korn Ferry, the average salary for a college graduate is $50,390. Compare this to the average salary of an “entry level” IT Computer User Support Specialist position at $52,000 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Considering that IT training requires just a few months vs. up to four years for traditional college, the value of certification training is obvious.

New Career Without a 4 Year Degree? Is That Possible?

“They gave me the option to do something else without having to go get a four year degree. I just didn’t have the time to start completely over again.”

After doing a little research, Whitney decided to come in and meet with a Career Training Consultant and see if a career in IT was right for her. “After learning about the industry demand and LeaderQuest’s sped up courses, it was a no-brainer.” Whitney entered the Computer User Support Specialist program that day and was able to use the remaining part of her G.I. Bill with a little bit of Vocational Rehab funding to completely cover the cost.

The Computer User Support Specialist training program consists of four different certifications that take either 5 days or 10 nights each plus some off-time studying. The four certifications contained in this program are CompTIA A+, Network+, Security+, and the ITIL certification, all of which are internationally recognized.

The program as a whole is specifically designed for helping career starters and career changers just like Whitney who need to be trained quickly for an in-demand job. The program provides a rock-solid foundation for careers in IT support, networking, and cyber security. The knowledge gained from this program spans from computer and network components all the way to cyber security concepts. This allows individuals to experience IT from multiple perspectives in order to find the path that most interests them. This array of certifications is especially attractive to employers.

Hands-On Experience with CompTIA A+

Our training programs are specially designed to give you hands-on experience. Whitney shared with us that his was one aspect of the training that she really enjoyed. “It was hands on. If you had a question, we were in the back opening up computers, handling motherboards, and actually updating them.” LeaderQuest’s goal is to give you the necessary knowledge and experience in order to make the transition into a new career as smoothly as possible without an extensive amount of on the job training.

In Whitney’s words: “They prepare you for the world outside of the training room, which is really important.” We couldn’t agree more. Not only do we give you the training you need to excel, we also offer support in your job search.

Career Services

We not only work on the training side of things, we also want to make sure that your professional profile is complete which is why our Career Services team will work with you throughout your time at LeaderQuest to give you the best chance possible at employment. We were able to help Whitney significantly improve her resume and optimize her LinkedIn profile. “My resume was now on point, and my LinkedIn, which I found out I surely wasn’t using correctly. They helped me understand its significance and how to take advantage of it, which helped out a lot.”

Our Career Services team focuses on more than just the resume and LinkedIn, they also help candidates out with cover letters, interview prep, and actually connecting them with jobs. We have multiple employment partners in each our our markets to help connect graduates with quality jobs straight from training.

While we do have the ability to connect people with employment, in Whitney’s case she was recruited before she even finish the program. “After 3 weeks I was contacted by a recruiter, went in for an interview, and they pretty much offered me a job on the spot because I did so well.” Whitney was hired by HDI Group as a Tier 1 IT Support Specialist. She’s currently works there as she gains the experience to get her dream job in cyber security.

LeaderQuest is committed to not only training out students, but making sure they get the help they need to find a great job after training. “The overall support and help here really helps you move forward,” Whitney told us.

Women in Cyber Security

Whitney’s dream to work in cyber security is shared by many, but there are far fewer women thinking about and working in this field than men. According to a recent Harris Poll, 9 out of 10 women have never even considered a career in cyber security and 3 out of 4 cyber security jobs currently in the U.S. are filled by men.

We asked Whitney about the challenges of being a woman in the tech world. “Women are always being tested on their abilities, especially being an African American women, it’s just known that it’s going to happen, so we have to be better than and smarter than the average person just to have the slightest chance to get ahead.”

This intimidation is a large part of why women have trouble advancing in the workplace, especially in new industries like cyber security. But don’t worry, if you’re a woman and considering a career in cyber security, you are not alone!

The Cyber Security Industry Needs More Whitneys

“Tech is becoming such a large part of all of our lives that we won’t be seeing such large barriers in the future as long as us women here already continue to break them down,” Whitney said.

According to CompTIA, Cyber States 2017,  there is a predicted shortage of over one million IT and cyber security positions in the U.S. by 2020. With so much room for new blood, women could be the the answer to this cyber security job shortage. Currently there are multiple efforts to get women into cyber security and these efforts are led like women like Whitney who have the drive and tenacity to break down barriers and try new things. If you’re considering cyber security and need some inspiration, check out our 10 Inspiring Quotes from Women in Cyber Security and Tech.

The Future of IT and Cyber Security

Women like Whitey will lead the the future in cyber security innovation on both the shortage side and the technological side. As more and more people get sick of their current jobs and want to switch to IT, we regularly get the question, “How do I make this transition into IT?”

We made the answer simple.

  1. Speak to a LeaderQuest representative and find out if a career in IT is right for you.
  2. Get trained by our world-class instructors and pass your certification exams.
  3. Work with our Career Services team to get connected to positions in your area, as well as interview training, LinkedIn optimization, and resume/cover letter writing.

With this simple approach, LeaderQuest’s concise and efficient training has developed a solution for individuals looking for a new direction. LeaderQuest is proud to work with people like Whitney to pave the way for future generations of IT and Cyber security workers. We made Whitney’s hope of a better future become true, and she told us, “Thank you LeaderQuest, thank you for making this a reality.” Could you be next?

Here are a couple closing words of advice from Whitney:

  • “To anyone looking to change careers or to start a career just come in and meet with someone to talk about your future.”
  • “Take advantage of everything LeaderQuest has to offer.”
  • “For the average person this might intimidate you but you can do it!”

Whitney Smith went from being a miserable call center rep to an IT professional in months, all while being a single mother. She also inspired a new dream within herself to become a cyber security expert. The problem that Whitney found herself in is common among many Americans, fortunately at LeaderQuest she found a 21st century solution that worked for her.

If you’re interested in a brighter future like Whitney’s, click below and fill out the form to be contacted by a Career Adviser for a quick evaluation conversation to see if we can help you turn your dreams into reality!

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From Lost Soldier to Cyber Security Warrior: Lavall Woodhouse

From Lost Soldier to Cyber Security Warrior: Lavall Woodhouse

Lavall Woodhouse separated from the United States military in 2004 after being stationed in Mannheim, Germany and Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Like most veterans, Lavall had just come off of a deployment and had little idea about what to do with his life after serving our country.

“There wasn’t really a whole lot of support in the idea of transitioning from the military to the civilian world, it was kind of like you’re on your own,” Lavall said.

Watch Lavall tell his story about training at LeaderQuest Dallas in his own words, below.

Homeless and Directionless

Unfortunately, many of our veterans are lost upon their return, lacking a compass to lead them to success in the country they have been navigating the world to protect. LeaderQuest is here for that exact reason, to be a compass for individuals and lead them to success through IT training.

Lavall was in desperate need of guidance and had found himself in unfortunate circumstances leading up to his time at LeaderQuest Dallas. “When I first came to LeaderQuest, I was trying to rebuild in a sense. I was homeless, and I didn’t have a job.”

This is all too common, veterans 18-30 are twice as likely as the general population to become homeless.

The Start of a Brighter Future

Lavall was directed towards LeaderQuest Dallas by his vocational rehabilitation counselor who presented him with different training opportunities. He decided to go with LeaderQuest’s short-term certification training program and in 2016 and began his journey towards a fulfilling career in IT.

“My first impression was positive. Everybody that I had met had a great attitude in the idea that they were glad to have me there, and those attitudes were a large part of my choice”.

LeaderQuest’s Career Training Consultants evaluated Lavall’s situation and created a plan in order to ensure his success. He took the Network+, Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), and Certified Hacking Forensics Investigator (CHFI) courses, all of which complimented his previous work experience.

Ready To Move Forward

Once he passed the certification exams, he then faced the next challenge of finding a job. Luckily, LeaderQuest was already one step ahead of him and ready to ease him into this next phase with one-on-one guidance from Erika Ofurum, LeaderQuest Dallas’ Employment Development Manager (EDM). “She sat down with us and started to learn about what we were into, what kind of backgrounds we had, and what kind of certifications we had.That’s when I started to get really confident,” Lavall went said. “She really rekindled that fire for me. That was exciting.”

Getting a Job with Amazon

Lavall’s excitement was intensified as more companies started to reach out to him. His hard work finally culminated in a job offer from Amazon to work for their web services team. About a year later, we asked him if he liked his new job. He told us, “I love it!”

“We all have this idea of wanting to be GREAT. That thought is within all of us, you just have to find it and then realize it.”

Cyber Security Training at LeaderQuest

There are times when we are alone and lost and there are times when we guide each other as human beings to find ourselves and our purpose. Lavall’s will had gotten him through the trenches of the military and his determination propelled his future into a fulfilling career.

Lavall served our country, fell down, and rose up to a bright new future. His situation is a perfect example of why we exist and what drives LeaderQuest employees to deliver the highest quality of service. LeaderQuest and Lavall will always be connected by his story and the continued story of how we plan to change thousands more lives through short-term training, certifications, and guidance.

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7 Common Misconceptions About Veterans (& Why They’re Harmful)

7 Common Misconceptions About Veterans (& Why They’re Harmful)

As Americans, it’s no secret that we love our military men and women. A few times a year, we come out en masse to thank our active duty military or veterans for their service. Despite this, there are a number of myths about veterans that circulate in our culture.

In the United States, there are 1.4 million people in the military and an additional 22 million more veterans. That’s a sizeable population of dedicated people who have made a tremendous commitment to their country only to sometimes face a backlash born of misunderstandings in the civilian world.

Veterans are sometimes put in a box by those who don’t understand and labeled as villains, victims, or vindicators. Those three categories sweep aside the broad spectrum of veteran experiences and ignore everything veterans have to offer as complex individuals with unique circumstances.

With that in mind, here are the top seven misconceptions that are harmful to veterans, the truth behind the men and women in uniform, and how everyone can fight these myths. Thank you to the LeaderQuest staff and students who have served in the military and shared their experience with us for this piece.

1. All Veterans Have PTSD

“I think one of the most unique situations I was in was when my 18-year-old daughter was giving a report in her high school class that covered my time in the military. One of the comments that was made by her classmate was how I was dealing with my PTSD. She laughed this off but then it turned out the majority of the class believed that all veterans are suffering from PTSD.

My daughter let them know that although it is great that veterans are able to have access to the help they need more so than in the past, not all veterans suffer from PTSD.”

-Charles Marcus, Retired U.S. Air Force, LeaderQuest Student

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is definitely something that affects the veteran community, but it’s not quite as relevant as you might think. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, PTSD affects:

  • Almost 31% of Vietnam veterans
  • As many as 10% of Gulf War (Desert Storm) veterans
  • 11% of veterans of the war in Afghanistan
  • 20% of Iraqi war veterans

To sum up, don’t assume that if a person is a vet they have PTSD because it’s simply not true. If someone does tell you they’re suffering from PTSD, understand that they’re trusting you with something important and often misunderstood. That brings us to our next big myth about veterans.

2. PTSD Makes Veterans Unpredictable and Violent

“One of the misconceptions is that we all have PTSD. That we’re all going to suddenly explode some day. Or they have a misconception of what PTSD is . . . popular media oftentimes shades people with military service and what they’ve done and what they’ve been through.”

-James Gross, U.S. Air Force, LeaderQuest Staff

Yes, this is such an important issue that it gets two entries. Merely saying the word PTSD is sure to conjure up images of unbalanced vets about to explode in violent, unpredictable ways. However, this characterization is a gross misrepresentation of the real disorder.

“PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault.”

National Center for PTSD

What you might not know is that PTSD affects a multitude of people who experience trauma, not just those in the military. Symptoms of PTSD include reliving the event, avoiding situations that remind you of that event, having more negative beliefs because of the trauma, and feeling keyed up/jittery. People with PTSD may have other problems including:

  • Feelings of hopelessness, shame, or despair
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Drinking or drug problems
  • Physical symptoms or chronic pain
  • Employment problems
  • Relationship problems, including divorce

Even for the population that is affected by this, it’s more likely to cause problems for the sufferer than the people around them. Violence is only prevalent in about 7.5% for PTSD sufferers in the U.S. population and 19.5% in post-9/11 veterans. While that is a little higher, it’s important to note that post-9/11 vets are younger (median age = 34) which meaning they’ve got a higher risk of violence anyway.

One of the biggest problems with this misconception is that it often leads to the idea that veterans with PTSD can’t be trusted with firearms. This simply isn’t true. This can be especially harmful because it’s a barrier for veterans who do suffer from PTSD and want to seek treatment. Many veterans chose not to seek treatment in part due to fear that their guns will be taken away. This can be another unnecessary barrier for people who already have to navigate a difficult mental health system to get help.

Next time you hear someone speaking with authority on how PTSD makes veterans violent, you’ll have the knowledge to step in and explain what’s really going on.

3. Veterans Don’t Think For Themselves

“When people think of a soldier obeying orders, they’re thinking of orders like ‘drop and give me fifty’ that they’ve seen in movies and on TV. In reality, those orders are more likely to be a complicated series of dynamic objectives, any or all of which can and will change as soon as plans meet reality.”

Antonio, 7 Myths Civilian Employers Have About Veterans

We’ve all heard the stereotype. The vet who’s a mindless drone, completely unable to think for herself. While it’s true that basic training is designed to get those that enter the military putting the good of the group first and understanding the importance of obedience, the idea that veterans don’t have original thoughts is untrue and offensive.

Veterans are put into incredibly complex situations and have to think on their feet. Each unit has its own personality which comes out in unique ways, and getting the job done is most important above all else. This means that veterans are often forced into situations where creative thinking isn’t just good, it’s essential.

So, got a complex problem you’re not sure how to fix? Call on a vet for help. You’ll be glad you did.

4. Female Veterans Don’t Exist/Don’t Do Very Much

“The simple fact that I am a veteran. They assume my husband is a veteran but are shocked that I am too.”

-Mary Walker, U.S. Air Force, LeaderQuest Staff

Women serving on the battlefield aren’t as new as you think and have been kicking butt and taking names for decades. Currently, there are more than 2 million female veterans in the U.S., about 9% of the total veteran population. However, that doesn’t stop many people who can’t seem to wrap their minds around women in service.

While the U.S. Military only announced it would open all combat jobs to women by the end of 2015, the truth is they’ve been on the battlefield for as long as America has been a country. During the Revolutionary War, American Civil War, and Spanish American war women served as nurses, cooks, support staff, and more while others dressed as men to serve in secret.

Women were officially allowed to serve in the military since the last two years of WWI, mostly as nurses, spies, and support staff, and slowly took on more duties through WWII, the Korean War, and Vietnam War

In 1976, the first women were allowed to enroll in service academies like Westpoint and during the 90’s women were allowed to fly on combat missions, serve on combat ships, and were deployed to areas like the Persian Gulf. In the last two decades, women have served in more and more positions and Sergeant Leigh Ann Hester became the first woman awarded the Silver Star for combat action.

The lack of awareness of female veterans is especially problematic because of the issues women have to deal with in post-service life. Female veterans are two to four times as likely as their civilian counterparts to experience homelessness and make up the fastest-growing share of homeless vets. Between 20,000 and 40,000 are homeless. Most, especially those with kids or histories of trauma, couch-surf with friends and relatives as opposed to going to shelters.

So the next time someone asks, “but do women really serve in the military?” feel free to educate them on how much women have contributed to the U.S. military.

5. Vets Are Less Skilled/Able Than Their Civilian Counterparts

In a market with such a strong emphasis on degrees, there are times when veterans are looked down upon simply because of their lack of job experience outside of the military. If you had a job fixing aircraft or defusing roadside bombs in the military, there might not be a lot of direct crossover in your skillset.

However, that doesn’t mean that veterans are less skilled or incapable of learning quickly. Quite the opposite in fact. They know how to problem solve, work on deadlines, and operate under immense pressure. In fact, research from Deloitte found that the veteran workforce is 4 percent more productive and 3 percent less likely to leave the organization.

Veterans often make great employees because they’re honest, notoriously hard workers, candid, and they know how to get things done. The truth is, you’re probably already working alongside great vets right now. Be sure to give them their due and call out their hard work.

6. Some Military Branches are Lesser/Vets Are All the Same

“From an Army point of view, they look at us like, ‘You were in the Army? That’s it?’”

-U.S. Army, LeaderQuest Student

It’s no secret that the different branches of the military like to poke fun at each other, but in the civilian world, certain branches of the military are looked down upon by some. Whether they make fun of the Army, National Guard, or the Air Force, there’s no short supply of shade to be thrown around.

In the end, serving in the military is a huge commitment. Each branch is different because it serves a specific purpose, but each branch also gives members the same loyalty, ability to operate under high-pressure situations, and willingness to do what’s best for the group and get things done.

Veterans also run the risk of attracting anti-government sentiment in general. The truth is that, while veterans do tend to vote more conservative and Republican (and also vote more in general), veterans are not a homogenous group. They have varied opinions on politics and the role of government in general. As for directing anti-government sentiment their way, just don’t. It’s not necessary or appropriate.

7. Getting Hired as a Veteran is Easy

“I thought I could get a job at the drop of a hat because I was told everyone wanted to hire military. I was unemployed for 6-weeks and was throwing my resume at anything and everything.”

-Aaron Kiewicz, U.S. National Guard, LeaderQuest Staff

Transitioning is never easy. There’s the culture shock to navigate and the sudden realization that you no longer have every hour of your day planned out for you. Perhaps the single biggest fear veterans have to deal with is going from a steady paycheck to an uncertain future for them and their families. Issues like having skills that don’t translate, concern for upcoming deployments, and being swayed by negative stereotypes of veterans, can keep veterans out of jobs they might otherwise excel in. On top of that, going from a culture that uses the f-word in excess to an office environment can be difficult.

When veterans are able to find jobs, it can be difficult to find work that is meaningful. For a population of people who had such a strong sense of duty and purpose, going to an environment where that feeling isn’t front and center can be devastating.

So, with all that in mind, what is the solution to helping vets transition into the workforce more smoothly?

Getting Vets Employed in Meaningful Jobs

Fortunately, there is a multitude of groups working to help veterans get into the civilian workforce and transitioning into the next step of their lives. Groups like We Hire Heroes, Operation Homefront, Valor Bridge, and even the USO help with career fairs, practicing interview skills, and resume building to get vets prepped for the next chapter of their lives.

Certifications are also becoming an increasingly viable option for vets who need to demonstrate their abilities to get that first employer to take a chance on them. That’s why cyber security and other IT fields are becoming an increasingly attractive option for vets.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to shattering these misconceptions. The men and women of our armed forces have done so much for us. By disarming these myths that can keep vets from jobs where they excel we take the first step in creating a workforce that is open and accepting of veterans. Not to mention the fact that vets are kick-ass workers, and who among us couldn’t use a few more of those on staff? It’s just common sense, really.