Careers in IT – One GI’s Journey

In our series of discussions regarding IT Careers, I’ve talked about whether IT is the right career for you, what you can expect working in the field, the diversity of positions available, the IT managerial path, and the career outlook. When talking with students and prospects, I often hear, “There is not enough time now,” or, “I am deploying, etc., so I can’t do it now.”

I thought I would pass along a real-life story that touches on how one GI made the journey while facing many of those same obstacles and who today leads a successful and rewarding career in the field. In fact, he has advanced to the middle management level.


Young man graduates from high school knowing exactly what he wants to do and goes off to college. He does alright, but discovers he doesn’t want to pursue the path he had planned.

After floundering somewhat in school, he decides to enter the Air Force. He’s tested and chosen to go to the Information Technology tech school to become a network tech. Then it’s off to his first assignment.

Stage 2:

He really likes what he is doing and dives into learning all he can. In the meantime, he gets married and over the next few years has two children. Interested in getting more training and education in the IT field, he finds that the Air Force only fills part of that need. Plus his base starts rotations to the Middle East.

So here he is, wanting to get a degree, married with two kids, eligible for food stamps, and facing periodic deployments. How can he afford the time and cost for pursuing his degree?

Stage 3:

He finds he has several things in his favor. He is highly motivated and has validating experience for the IT career path. He knows promotions and quality-of-life benefits are at stake. He finds that his deployments do allow continued course completion. Military TA funding picks up much of the cost. His spouse supports the temporary commitment of time and money.

(Note that if you are a student of American Sentinel University, our military tuition is well within the TA cap – even for a master’s degree – and our military scholarship covers books, software, shipping costs, and registration and graduation fees.)

Stage 4:

He commits to putting in the time and effort required to complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science (BSCS). At the same time, he requests more military training and support to help improve his unit’s capability to support the mission, but gets refused.

Coincidentally, he links up with a veteran who has a small business helping local businesses become automated. He starts doing this on the side, applying development knowledge that he learned in his BSCS degree courses.

Then, he takes a network certification course. He really enjoys the fulfillment of the off-duty jobs, however becomes further discouraged with the continued military hold back.

Stage 5:

Our GI decides to make the big break and enter the civilian world. Now, with his education, certification, and experience, he gets hired by an investment firm as a junior programmer (his networking skills helped him get that position). After the company changes hands, he finds a new job with a power management company as an application developer. He earns a few advancements and now works in middle management. He is considering getting an MBA in preparation for future advancement to senior management.

I relate this true story because it illustrates what it takes to be successful:

  • You don’t always know what career path to pursue. Hopefully these articles will help you with that. Also, if you aren’t happy in your job, you will likely look elsewhere or not be successful in your current position.
  • Most people face a number of obstacles in becoming successful. Whether it is time, money, motivation, or luck, with the right attitude and persistence there is usually a way.
  • Utilize your military benefits. If you are active-duty make sure you use as much of the TA money made available to you as possible (currently, that’s $4,500 per year). If you are a veteran, use those GI Bill benefits before they run out.
  • The IT career field is full of interesting and diverse paths. In this GI’s case, he successfully went from a military networking setting to a small business IT venture to an investment firm finally to an international power management company.
  • A degree and certifications are key to providing valid credentials. This GI set himself apart and established worthy credentials to companies that, as he said to me, “didn’t know me from Adam.” His education showed a commitment to standards and achieving hard goals. (I look for this as well now when I am conducting interviews.)

So don’t think you can’t do it because of time, money, work or commitments. You can do it, and American Sentinel has the affordable and flexible online programs as well as the benefits and support to help you make it happen.

Talk to one of our admissions counselors about American Sentinel’s IT degrees in computer science, Information Technology, or other exciting careers such as Geographical Information Systems, Security, Health Systems Management, Game-Programming, Web Development, and Cyber-Criminology.

And ask us about your TA, Montgomery GI Bill (Chapter 30), and even the new Post 9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33) benefits while they’re still available. American Sentinel’s reduced military tuition rates and military scholarships help extend those benefits, further minimizing your out-of-pocket expenses, so why wait?

If you have any questions on the IT field or if you are a service member transitioning into civilian life, feel free to leave a comment or question using the submission form below.  I’d love to hear from you!

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