Prep for leaving the army (need advice)

MMckernanMMckernan Registered Users Posts: 2 ■□□□□□□□□□
I'm a 25N in the army right now. I joined to give myself career options as a civilian. I'm a JNN operator and I'm steadily building experience. I'm dropping a packet for a top secret clearance. I have 2 1/2 years left until my ETS date. I'm making this post because I don't have the direction or knowledge to set myself up with a career. I'm currently trying to get certifications, but getting seats for the classes is an ordeal in itself. I'm looking for some guidance on how to prep myself for civilian life in IT and how to ensure that I have better job opportunities. I'll take any knowledge I get get. Thank you in advance.


  • TechGuru80TechGuru80 Member Posts: 1,539 ■■■■■■□□□□
    As far as certifications go, do you deal with systems and networks? If so, getting an MCSE and CCNA (or CCNP if you can) would be ideal and honestly in 2 1/2 years it should be doable to get both. More than likely you are going to be required to get Security+ but do you know if they will MAKE you get anything specific such as Juniper or CEH? Sometimes the requirements can be specific and that might lead to different options, but otherwise the MCSE / CCNP / Security+ group is what I would recommend. Essentially you are looking to make the biggest splash relative to your experience when you get out and although there are a lot of paths, the path I described is the best related to your role. Additionally, you should be able to get hands on experience related to the various areas. If you find yourself dealing a lot more with networking than systems, then perhaps maybe only do an MCSA and go full bore on Cisco or whatever the case might be....your description is a little light to give very direct information.

    As far as employers go, the most forgiving way will be to either go direct government (if you can) or link up with a contractor. I would start trying to make connections with both on whatever base you are at in the technology field....even if they are in a role like security, it can help to get referrals when you go to apply. Don't go do something like buying a house/condo (if you are in the states), because equity wise you probably won't end up in a positive position and not buying a house/condo lets you be flexible when you transition out. Of course things could vary if you are in a big metro area but in general it is probably safer to not buy at this point....just save extra money. You can probably start to apply to jobs around 4-6 months from getting out...whenever it's official but ideally you want to start right before all your leave and what not is used don't really want to have a gap in the military pay and civilian pay if you can avoid it. The turn around can vary on government and contractor hirings so the time frame is warranted....for regular companies, you might want to wait until 1-3 months as the turn around is much quicker and they expect a butt in seat quickly.

    Staying government is beneficial in a few ways....
    1. (PRO) If you plan on staying reserves, they will be much more flexible and accommodating. Regular companies are going to follow what is required by law but don't expect them to be thrilled with the fact that you will be gone at certain times.

    2. (PRO) You already have the clearance, and with large backlog time frames that keep getting stated (assuming that stays consistent), you will have an additional benefit to getting hired.

    3. (PRO or CON) The environments will be a lot more similar to what you are used to, as a lot of people are generally former military.
  • MMckernanMMckernan Registered Users Posts: 2 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thank you for that information! I primarily work with routing, switching and a few VMs related to call managing. I run both a Nipr and Sipr network. I also have experience loading and maintaining COMSEC. Just as some insight as to what I do as a November. I'm currently stationed in Fort Stewart, but I'm from Nashville. After ETS I was planning on moving to a larger city.
  • TechGuru80TechGuru80 Member Posts: 1,539 ■■■■■■□□□□
    Nashville, Atlanta, Orlando are all good size areas with a lot of government jobs, and then you have some smaller areas throughout Georgia and I would say if you don’t want to go too far you could stay in that general area.

    Make sure you take advantage of any kind of training available. Also some vendors might even offer scholarships or discounted training for former military as you start getting out. It sounds like you will have useful skills by the time you get out.
  • L0rdN1k0nL0rdN1k0n Member Posts: 11 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Soak up as much experience and certifications as possible. Because a lot can happen in two and a half years.....
  • DonklanderDonklander Member Posts: 47 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I was in a similar position a few years ago.
    25B, One contract (about 5ish years). From the Nashville area.

    1) Absolutely get your Sec+ or CASP/CISSP as of yesterday. Sec+ is going to be a requirement for any Gov't contracting job at a minimum. (And there are plenty if you have a clearance)

    2) Work on CCNA or MCSA, or both. Depending on if you want to do networking or systems.

    3) is a valuable resource for those with clearances.

    4) Use your TA right now, and have a plan for your GI Bill for when you get out. The GI Bill is BY FAR the best thing about leaving the military.

    Just some words of advice, look for an ADMIN job not an ENGINEERING job.

    You may get to the point where you THINK you know a lot, but you really don't. I had my CCNA getting out and didn't know QUITE the difference between Network Admin jobs and Network Engineering, so I probably wasted a lot of time applying for jobs I definitely wasn't qualified for. Hell, when I was still working on networking and I cracked open CCNP books I realized how much more I didn't know. So the moral of the story is, you're more or less have the experience of help desk/BASIC network and sys admin work getting out. Your 5ish years of experience doesn't necessarily translate to being an expert by any means.
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