From Nuclear Technician to Cybersecurity VP

Before discovering VetSec, our member served as a nuclear power technician in the United States Navy, equipped with formal education in IT and cybersecurity but lacking practical experience and clear guidance for the impending transition to civilian life. The myriad of unknowns from resumes to specific career paths in cybersecurity presented daunting obstacles. Yet, the turning point came upon a simple web search leading to VetSec, a community-driven haven where hundreds of members eagerly offer support to one another.

  1. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background before joining VetSec?
    I was enlisted in the United States Navy for 22 years, working in the Navy’s Nuclear Power field, serving in the engineroom of various submarines, from maintenance and operations of electronics to, at the pinnacle of my career, serving as the Engineering Department Master Chief in charge of the engineroom of a fast attack submarine.
  2. How did you first learn about VetSec, and what motivated you to get involved?
    When I reported to my final shore tour, I knew I would be retiring from the service after. I also had a strong interest in cybersecurity. Through a few web searches, I came across VetSec – it seemed like a solid place to gain transition advice and network with my fellow veterans in the field. Once I joined, there were a myriad of opportunities to take advantage of, and I received a training voucher for my eJPT certification.
  3. What were some of the biggest challenges or obstacles you faced in transitioning to a cybersecurity career before joining VetSec?
    The biggest challenge I faced was the lack of a network that understood the military transition, and the lack of understanding, true understanding, of the corporate cybersecurity field. Everyone I would seek out for advice, before joining VetSec, had never made the transition out of the military themselves. VetSec provided a home for me to ask those questions and get real, down-to-earth answers.
  4. Can you describe your experience with VetSec’s training and mentorship programs? What specific resources or support did you find most valuable?
    Again, the thing that helped me the most was the network. VetSec members provide real advice, veteran-to-veteran, and I appreciated the candor. I did take advantage of one certification program through eLearnSecurity, and that also helped me understand what fields in cybersecurity I had the most interest in. But the biggest resource to me was the ability to find technical and career-oriented mentorship, and out of that has come some amazing relationships. Without VetSec, I would not have been as successful as I was in my transition, doubling my salary in my very first position when I left the military.
    VetSec members also helped keep me away from resources, like some bootcamps that teach inadequate and outdated material, promising a high salary, that only would’ve wasted my time. Time is the resource that a transitioning veteran has so little of.
  5. How has the VetSec community impacted you personally and professionally?
    I can’t begin to describe the impact of this community.
    Without VetSec, I cannot begin to imagine where I would be today. Here’s a short timeline.
    Because of VetSec, I learned about the industry ins and outs, and specifically what area I wanted to focus in (design/development/leadership) well before my transition. Thanks to that knowledge, I found a SkillBridge partner through VetSec (shout-out to RudderShift!). This partner accepted me for a full six-month SkillBridge. That allowed me to leave my duty station early to settle where my family wanted to live. And if we hadn’t been able to move early, the home we found for our forever home wouldn’t be the home I’m sitting here writing this in now.
    Because of VetSec, I transitioned straight to a VP of Technology position. I doubled my salary. I work from home. I wrote a book and am a published author.
    I cannot express how much this community has impacted me for the better.
  6. Can you share a specific moment or achievement during your time with VetSec that you are particularly proud of?
    Signing my first full-time employment contract, thanks to a member I met in VetSec.
  7. Where are you currently in your cybersecurity career, and how did VetSec contribute to your success?
    See above. I’m leading a technology company from the technical side from the ground up, and it’s really, truly, thanks to this organization that I’ve made it this far.
  8. Reflecting on your journey, how do you think your career and personal growth would have been different without VetSec? What are your future aspirations in the field of cybersecurity?
    My end goal is to work in a similar role as I am now, architecting tools and products that help the problems we face, be it climate change, more work in cybersecurity, etc. Without VetSec, I’d probably have leveraged my clearance to work in a data center. I wouldn’t be working from home, and I probably wouldn’t live on the acreage I have now.
  9. What advice would you give to other veterans considering a career in cybersecurity and thinking about joining VetSec?
    Joining VetSec is the singularly most important thing I did in my military transition. It’s free. And the advice is gold. I have watched this organization go from ~1,800 members to over 7,000, where they are today. I have seen so many get help – and you can too.
Scroll to Top