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Intel Rolls Out the Red, White and Blue Carpet for Veterans

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Note from the Blog Manager: Eric Mantion is currently serving as the social media strategist for the Intel Intelligent Systems Group (formally known as Embedded), but previously graduated from the US Naval Academy & served in the Navy as a nuclear-trained Submarine Officer as well as other duties. You can follow him on Twitter (@Geek8ive) or read his blogs. He was invited to guest blog here on what it’s like to be a veteran working for Intel.

I will admit it, I’m very proud of the fact that I work for Intel. As a hard core technologist I have a deep appreciation for the little slivers of miracles we make out of what is effectively melted sand. The nuances and accomplishments of what we are able to achieve every year with our new products continues to convert science fiction into science fact. Truth be told, working for Intel is actually what I wanted to do when I first came out of the Navy in 1999. At the time, many of the Military Junior Officer (MJO) recruiters (agencies that focus specifically helping young junior officers from the military transition into civilian careers) didn’t have a strong relationship with Intel. So, I went to work for a different chip company, and then went through a few other jobs, before finally getting hired by Intel in 2005.

So, while I’ve always been proud of working for Intel for it’s technologically achievements, I now have a completely new reason to be proud. As was announced earlier this week, Intel is starting its Veteran’s Employment Training - aptly named “VET” - to help those folks transitioning out of their military service into becoming productive members of the civilian world. And, honestly, I could not be happier that we are doing this for 3 reasons:

  1. It is, in my personal opinion, a crying shame how difficult it is to transition from Military Life to Civilian Life.

  2. I think this is a brilliant way for Intel as a company to give back to those folks that risked so much to keep the world safe.

  3. I can really see how this would benefit Intel - not only in the select veterans we may hire, but also in the ones we don’t hire but do help to improve their computer skills.

The Transition from the Military War movies - almost everyone has seen them, but not all of them are “favorable” or paint the members of the military in a positive light. In fact, in my opinion, some movies are down-right horrible in how they portray the proud members of our military. But, my point here isn’t to bash the bad movies, but simply to point out those movies, as a form of media, are powerful in their ability to shape popular opinion. Therefore, if you are not someone that has a brother, a mother, a cousin, or an uncle in the military, your view of what people with a military background are like will be shaped by the forms of the media to which you are exposed. Right, wrong, or indifferent, that is what it is, but our young troops going through this transition shouldn’t have to suffer for the opinions of some Hollywood producers.

True Story: when I got out of the Navy in 1999 and was interviewing for a civilian job, the JMO recruiters told all the men to take wallets out from their back pockets & put them in their front jacket pockets. Now, being the naturally curious fella that I am, I felt compelled to ask: “Why?” The answer amazed me: “Because if some of these people see you reach behind your back, they may think you are about to pull out a gun.” Stunned. The only way I can describe my reaction was Stunned. While we’ve all heard the adage “Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight,” I’ve never heard anyone ever suggest bringing a gun to a job interview would ever be a good thing. However, for reasons beyond my control, there were those that figured that every member of the military walked around like Rambo with 7 different weapons strapped to their body. So we had to adjust ourselves for those misperceptions.

But the above tale is only one of the reasons why the transition is hard. The other is, quite frankly, because people in the Military speak a different language. Between the Military’s fondness for acronyms – which is perhaps the only place that beats Intel in its use of acronyms (inside Intel we actually have the Acronym: TLA – for Three Letter Acronym) and just our expectations of what we mean when we say something, when many military folks write their resumes, they might as well write it in Latin for how readable it is to many civilians. For example, I can honestly say that I was: The MILCON Program Manager for Q-449 & P-533 responsible for ensuring the future Site Master Plan for SEAL Delivery Team ONE would maintain the team’s mission readiness & support the upcoming ASDS project.

Now, that may not mean a lot to you - for many civilians, the only thing that they took out of that was the bullet from my resume was “Program Manager” - but let me break that down for what it actually meant. First, MILCON is short for Military Construction - meaning all projects in which building or other structures are made for the military is a MILCON. Two, in the military, a Program Manager is “it.” He’s the owner. If there’s a problem, it’s his neck. There is no committee, not “blue-ribbon panel,” any and all aspects of this is under his cognizance. That means when members of a congressional over-site committee shows up, the Program Manager is responsible for given them a tour. When the senior most SEAL in the world comes by for a briefing, the Program Manager will walk him through it. When there are forms to fill out, documents to review, permissions to be obtained, or whatever else needs to be done, it falls to the Program Manager. These are all things I actually did. At the age of 27, I presented my program to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations / Low-Intensity Conflict, which for those not familiar, is only 3 levels away from the President (ASD » USD (Policy) » SoD » PotUS).

What I’ve found out in the civilian world is, if you are the Program Manager for a $50 Million project, you will likely have an entire team of folks to handle some of the respective tasks. In the Navy, it was me, an Army of One (pardon the pun). And, on top of all that, I did not have a degree in Civil Engineering, or Finance, or Environmental Development, so whenever a new issue came up (what is the water flow rate of a pool with an edge flow control 400 feet long?), it was on me to go find out the answer or teach myself how to figure that out. The military is all about “self-reliance.”

Unfortunately, while all of the above decoding may make what I had done for just over two years seem relatively impressive, like many JMOs, my first draft of my resume was nearly exactly that initial phrase I quoted because I was completely unaware how little that actually meant to the average civilian. That is why, amongst other things, I think one of the most crucial aspects of the Intel VET program will be guidance in “Resume Writing.” I know that is something that I would have strongly benefited from had I had it when I was getting out. I’m also very encouraged by the other attributes of the program such as “mentor matching [and] one-on-one coaching.”

Giving Back If I have to be honest, I served in the Navy during a relatively peaceful period – from May 1992 to April 1999. I am fortunate enough to say, live ammunition was never fired in my direction with aggressive intent. And yet, despite that, those 7 years were some of the most stressful of my life, especially when I was actually serving aboard the USS Santa Fe (SSN-763). Honestly, to this day, I still have nightmares about my time on the submarine, and it was a relatively peaceful time, no actually combat. So frankly, I have a hard time imagining what life is like for our troops that have been fighting in the War on Terrorism for the last decade. And that’s not because I haven’t tried.

I’ve met & spoken with many folks that served over there, either in Iraq, Afghanistan, or both. I have a good friend of mine here at Intel, a USMA’99 graduate, that served in Afghanistan & I’ve listened intensely to the stories she tells, although she doesn’t dwell on them. I’ve heard from a young Army 1LT that would sleep every night on the hood of his command HUMVEE because it was too hot to sleep in his armored bunker in Iraq. I’ve heard & read plenty of stories, and I, as a former member of the military, have trouble grasping what it would take to endure such arduous times. So, for those that haven’t served in any capacity, I’d have to imagine it would be impossible to comprehend the hardships the members of our military are facing every day. However, I do think that, while we may never be able to fully understand the trials & tribulations, we can at least show our appreciation for what they have gone through to defend our freedoms & our way of life. And this, the Intel VET program, is, in my opinion, a great way to do that!

Smarter Users In some ways, Intel has a very unique problem. From my perspective, we make truly miraculous little devices that make so many incredible things possible. In fact, in some ways, our products are almost too powerful. By that I mean, if you take the “average” computer user, there are probably a healthy number of things that they could do with their computers, but are not. And usually, the reason is simply lack of knowledge. When you look at most other products, cars, refrigerators, lawn mowers, whatever, most people that have them know how to do “most” things. Did you know there was a magic device in your car that can actually pull Radio-Frequency waves out of the air & translate them into music you can hear? Probably – it’s called the “car radio.” Did you know that, in many refrigerators, you can push your glass against a lever or press a button & very cold, solidified water will come out? Probably – it’s called an Ice Machine.

But, as a hard core “Geek,” I am continually educating people about things that they can do with their computers that they never knew they could do. For example, in Windows 7, if you hold down the ((windows)) key & press the “Left Arrow,” it will reduce your active window exactly ½ of your screen size & snap it to the left. Similarly, ((windows)) + “Right Arrow” will do the same thing, but snap it to the right side. So, if you find yourself having to copy something from one document to another, but can’t copy & paste, then you can use that trick to put 2 different windows side-by-side. Also, if you press ((windows))+1/2/3/etc., it will start (or switch to) the 1st/2nd/3rd/etc. application that you have pinned to your Taskbar. And these are just tricks for Windows 7 (you can see more tricks by clicking here), there are also tricks in Microsoft word like ((alt))+((ctrl))+R will make the “®” symbol or ((alt))+((ctrl))+T will make the “™” symbol. There are other tricks I know, I try to share them as I can, but ping me on Twitter if you want to know more.

However, while I know all of this stuff off the top of my head, that is because I’m in a small segment of the population called “ÜberGeek” and I recognize that most people don’t know many of these tricks. But imagine how much more people would value and appreciate their computers if they knew how much more they could get out of them. So, at the very least, training veterans – who tend to be natural leaders – some great tricks about how to use their computers better will result in them, in turn, teaching others how to use their computers better. And this results in people getting more value out of the computers they have or want to get. And that, in the long run, can only help Intel as a company.

The Coveted Win-Win-Win So, for all the reasons above, I am super glad to see Intel roll out its VET program. Not only is it a win for Veterans, it is also a win for the country (because taking care of the people that protect the country makes for a safer country) as well as a win for our company. While everyone looks for the Win-Win scenario, when you can in fact get 3 birds with one stone, then that is a situation you simply must pursue. But let me know if you have any feedback – do you agree that this is a good program? Is there anything else we should be doing? If you don’t like it, why don’t you like it? Let us know in the comments below. However, before I sign off, I would like to wish all previous & currently serving members of our military: