Facebook Cambridge Office Holds First Vetworking Tech Tales Night
Over the past year, Facebook’s office in Cambridge has been striving to employ more veterans in their Engineering department. Stack-Up has been following this effort in the Greater Boston area since their Technical Sourcer Sarah first contacted the Boston Stack last June about their first Vetworking event. Since then, Facebook has grown the little get-together/networking event into something so large, it merited booking a private venue space! So with Sarah’s invitation, the Boston Stack’s James Repass and Tanner Hastings attended Facebook’s first VetWorking Tech Tales at the beautiful Carrie Nation Cocktail Club.
The night’s event featured stories from veterans about the transition from military life into the tech industry. The speakers ranged from a recently discharged Navy veteran to a former Green Beret who served in the 1980’s, but one of the running themes in the stories was how the first, second, and sometimes even the third attempt at entering the job market again was difficult for veterans. Some went into teaching, some went into retail, one even tried to run his own bar, but in the end, there was something about their jobs that simply wasn’t satisfying. More often than not, the problem was the paycheck. Several speakers vented their frustration about how men and women who risk their lives for their country come back to find that the only jobs available to them were under the poverty line.
However, there was another message that passed from speaker to speaker: getting a job you love takes timing, luck, and grit–three things every serviceman learns to appreciate. The message was amended later to something even more meaningful: luck and timing will come to you, but only if you have the grit to keep looking for them. That statement earned its own round of applause.
Three of the speakers mentioned how it only took one good piece of advice to turn their attention to the tech industry. Some were already programming savvy thanks to their work in the military, while others needed a little schooling to start applying to local jobs. A volunteer for Operation CODE was present and mentioned the nonprofit’s dedication to helping veterans and their close relatives spruce up their resumes and get the training they need to join the tech industry.
While the speakers only took up about two-thirds of the event’s slot time, there was plenty of networking done after everyone had been given a chance to share their experience. Attendees enjoyed the free appetizers and open bar as they met with local veterans; the Boston Stack even met a navy serviceman interested in joining Stack-Up!
Although they came from all branches of the military (and indeed, all walks of American life), the common obstacles of serving the country and returning to a world they weren’t fully adjusted to was downright universal for the event’s attendees. Former MMN2 (SS) James RePass, now a Data Center Manager and proud member of the Boston Stack, effectively summarized the sound advice in his closing statement:
“We don’t really fit in, but that’s okay. I think that the push to better yourself that’s encouraged in the military is important in finding work back home. That said, it’s also important to remember that you’re not alone in this unique challenge. So talk to your fellow veterans–talk to the guys who put this event together–you’ll be surprised how much your shared experience can help you better yourself.”