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From the Military into Software Engineering: a Reflection

A year after leaving the service to join the tech world as an engineer, I’ve helped out some friends making the same leap, and done some reflection on my own journey. Rather than keep that to myself, I’ve written this series of guides to help you or someone you know.

These are meant specifically for:

  • servicemembers of any rank
  • looking to work in tech
  • at a tech firm, large or small (vice: a tech role at a traditional company, which I know nothing about)
  • generally as engineers, but there’s advice for future managers and program managers too
  • who might know the big picture about this process, but are hazy on the details.

Disclaimer! I’ve only been at this for a year, so there’s a lot I don’t know. But, if I had known everything written here, my transition would have been much more easy, successful, and fun.

Sections:

The Exit: Preparing to Leave the Service

The Hustle: Job Searching and Interviewing

The Landing: Handling and Evaluating Offers of Employment and Compensation

The Gig: Starting Work

Context: How This All Went For Me

Key Points

  1. Start as early as possible, and skill up!
  2. Take your time - it’s 100% better to find the right role later than a meh job now. Aim high, and keep interviewing until you fail enough.
  3. Programming is to software engineering like running is to a triathlon: just one part. If it’s all you can do, you might not win.
  4. Find mentors who know you, and whom you trust. Leverage the growing veteran network in tech.
  5. Know how ranks, pay, benefits, titles work - it’s not all about the salary.
  6. The quality of the people on your team matter much more than the company as a whole.

Please leave any feedback in the comments section below the relevant article, or write to me directly, so I can improve this for future readers. And if you find it valuable, please pass it along!