Around this time last year, I was at an impasse. I had just graduated from the Defense Language Institute and my Active Duty orders were about to end. As an Army Reservist, the better part of the past two years of my life was spent bouncing between different training opportunities.
I earned my Airborne Wings making five jumps and who knows how many Parachute Landing Falls at Fort Benning, Georgia. I graduated Basic Leadership Course from the Non-Commissioned Officer Academy at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. Now I was about to drive back home cross-country to Pennsylvania from the Presidio of Monterey, California. However, this time I wouldn’t have an Army paycheck to go back to.
I had started my job hunt too late…
Over Christmas leave, I met with two companies and I thought I would get a job offer…I didn’t.
The only thing I could do, as I sat in a barracks room overlooking the Monterey Bay was to update my LinkedIn profile. I originally created one after graduating college but it was mostly blank. I decided that I had a shot to get into either Project Management or Sales, so I did my best to write a witty summary filled with SEO buzzwords as I began applying to anything and everything. And then…
I moved back to Western PA and picked up a construction gig to hold me over. Just as my orders ended and my travel reimbursement check was cashed, I received a Linkedin InMail from a recruiter at Tech Qualled. He wanted to call me about a “Free-for-Veterans” training program to break into the Tech Industry…
It seemed too good to be true. I didn’t respond. FOR THREE WEEKS.
Fast forward, I had just got off the phone with a hiring manager looking for a sales representative in their Law Enforcement vertical. I got the feeling that she just took the call as a favor to a mutual friend, and didn’t see me as a viable candidate. Not only did I do a poor job of explaining my confusing military career, but I also struggled to articulate why she should hire a Civil Affairs and Infantry qualified, French-speaking, small team leader who jumps out of planes, for a sales role.
If you’re a civilian reading this, I’m sure you’re laughing by now – but the reality is, I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t get a callback.
Frustrated as hell, I called the recruiter from Tech Qualled hoping he wouldn’t laugh as he hung up the phone.
To my surprise, we had a great conversation! Then a second! Then I went through the application process. I interviewed over Zoom meetings, took aptitude tests, and all of my application materials were put in front of a selection board. Talk about a thorough vetting process!
After about two weeks of waiting, I got the call. I was accepted into the program! Unfortunately, I still was on the fence about committing…
That was until I interviewed for an entry level inside sales position at an insurance company. A position typically filled by recent college graduates. I even got a face-to-face interview this time, but the same issues I had translating my military resume came up again. They never got back to me. I couldn’t even get a second interview for an entry-level job – one with a salary that would barely cover my student loans.
That’s when I decided to fully commit to the Tech Qualled program, and that decision changed my life.
Fast forward to Launchpad Academy Cohort 13, I renovated houses during the day and logged into the Tech Qualled learning portal at night. Going into it, I expected all of the training on the current state of the IT industry and consultative selling. What I wasn’t ready for, was the expert resume and LinkedIn profile tailoring, the interview coaching, and the buy-in that the career coaches at Tech Qualled had in me.
The interviews started towards the end of the online training and took off after the Advanced Bootcamp in Fort Worth. In a 6-week period between September and November of 2018, I interviewed multiple times with over a dozen companies. The previous 9 months, I had 4 interviews…total.
I was first introduced to the Check Point team in October 2018 during the Advanced Bootcamp in Fort Worth and I was thrilled to accept a position with their team in the following weeks.
Since joining the Check Point team, my life has been a whirlwind of conferences in Las Vegas, job training in Israel, and generally drinking through a firehose. Throughout it all, I’m still in contact with guys from Cohort 13, and I regularly get emails and texts from my former coaches just to check in and mentor me.
In a few months, I went from questionable job prospects to a career, all with a network of veterans and successful tech sales reps to lean on.
That’s why I will ALWAYS tell every veteran I know who is looking to make a change, “Give Tech Qualled a call.”
About Lee: Lee Wyland is a Sales Representative at Check Point Software. As a former Infantryman in the U.S. Army and graduate of the Launchpad Academy Cohort 13, Lee now lives in Pittsburgh, PA and is thriving in his first tech sales position.
About Check Point Software Technologies: Check Point is a multinational provider of software and combined hardware and software products for IT security, including network security, endpoint security, cloud security, mobile security, data security, and security management. As of 2016, the company has approximately 4,000 employees worldwide.