Army veteran David Tejada knows the value of hiring military vets. Vets have a can-do attitude, respect the chain of command and others, and excel under pressure. When they were in war they worked as a unit, and everybody protected everybody else. In a work setting they have the same attitude. They work as a unit, pulling each other up and pushing each other ahead, while always having each other’s backs. At their core, they work together and are “mission driven.” Tejada states it best, “we not only learn our job, but cross train in order to support each other at all times.”
When Tejada decided to join the military in 2001 as a 17-year old, one of the driving factors was him becoming a fourth generation military man. After Tejada was deployed to Afghanistan in October 2011, he worked with and learned a lot of the hardware on top-secret systems, which struck his interest in Internet Technology. But upon returning in October 2012, he found it difficult to find employment.
“I interviewed at a lot of different places, but a lot of times I was either under qualified or sometimes over qualified because they didn’t want to pay within the range that the job requirements were,” Tejada said. “That was a horrible experience because, at the end of the day, you have to take care of your family.”
But in March 2013, he received the opportunity to be a part of Sharp Decisions’ inaugural class of the V.E.T.S.™ (Vocations, Education and Training for Service members) Program.
The training program was intensive, but he thoroughly enjoyed working side by side with a squad of fellow veterans. The class learned with a combination of classroom learning and lab-based practical tests, learning the fundamental principles of software testing and how to do testing effectively. The class burrowed down into the details of the industries they’d be working in. Practical exercises were drilled again and again to build up their experience writing and running programs, and tracking and fixing bugs.
But V.E.T.S. had taught Tejada the value of patience because many of the tools he learned while becoming a quality assurance tester were completely foreign to him. He also believes the program holds a sense of value that can’t be compared to any other organization because it is labeled a vets group and these Veterans all work together.
“It’s something that you only want to see get bigger and bigger because of those values and morals that we grew into being in the military,” Tejada said.
One of Tejada’s earliest assignments was with a large healthcare provider to test its compliance with the Affordable Health Care Act. Within a month the V.E.T.S. squad had completed their initial project and the team’s responsibilities grew as they were entrusted with various new and more complex projects. Projects that were taking the average civilian consultant three months took the V.E.T.S. Team only two weeks. They’d begun as entry-level workers, but before long they became the “go to” group on the company’s software systems.
“We weren’t as experienced as some other consultants,” Tejada said, “but one month of dedicated training was the equivalent of a full year.” The vets aimed to be “the ‘go to’ and the anchor at that location, to go from not knowing a system to training the system, to become staples and to learn things on the fly. We ask our managers for more work if the work is too easy, we hold ourselves differently, demand more, and have a different level of enthusiasm.”
Management was now coming to them with questions about how the software worked. David and his squad weren’t ready to only do their own job; they were ready to do their team leader’s job if necessary, because as David says, “In the military you need to accomplish the mission, even if that means stepping up in a leadership role if necessary.”
A year earlier he was just back from Afghanistan, unsure where his next paycheck would come from. Now, his life has changed. Because of Sharp Decisions and the V.E.T.S program he’s trained in a brand new career and looking to buy his first house.
Tejada wants to make sure the program expands. “My dedication to the program has grown,” he said. “I want to make sure the program expands and help my fellow soldiers that I deployed with find a career.” Tejada’s commitment to his brothers is ongoing, because the mission isn’t over yet.