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Military Man Lands Dream Tech Job at Microsoft

D.C. Area native Damien Tyler served 5 years in the United States Army before being assigned at Joint Base Lewis McChord. Having served our country honorably, he now faced a new challenge of transitioning from military service into the private sector, but without relevant private sector work experience to lean on. He was sure of two things: he wanted to return to the East Coast with his family and he wanted to work in Tech.  

Damien handled the challenge of transition smoothly and is working full time as a Data Center Technician with Microsoft in Herndon, VA. He worked through Apprenti’s assessment, the TLG IT Pre-Apprenticeship, and landed a great job in the technology industry. Damien’s successful journey wasn’t always easy, but he made it through and now has some advice to share. 

Q: How did you find this program?

A: I found a flyer while going through the Army’s SFL-TAP program and attended the Apprenti orientation.

Q: Did you prepare for the assessment?

A. I did. All the resources for studying were provided by TLG and Apprenti. I found a quiet place, focused, studied and applied what I learned to the test.

Q: What did you do in the service?

A: IT Specialist (25B) Helpdesk, LAN Manager, Information Management Officer, and a few other responsibilities.

Q: What advice do you have for anyone considering the program?

A: Commit! Your background (or lack thereof) in Information Technology does not define your ability to learn. Hesitation breeds doubt. So, prepare yourself for the most rewarding challenge the profession has to offer and you will succeed.

Q: What was learning with a cohort like?

A: Couldn’t have made it without them. The cohort format gave me many angles to perceive a topic. They were a secondary source of understanding if I was not digesting what the instructor was delivering. We built a community knowledge bank that we could all pull from. We gave each other feedback on presentations of specific topics and a helping hand when the load got heavy. They were essential to my triumph over difficult tasks.

Q: Was the program what you expected? If so, how? If not, why?

A: No, because it far exceeded my expectations. I knew there would be course work but when the entire TLG team began teaching techniques on a wider variety of subjects that I could apply to my overall life, I knew ensuring my success was personal for everyone directly and indirectly involved.

Q: Do you feel there was value in the cost and duration?

A: Absolutely. I have to admit my view is a bit skewed. I had the luxury of using the GI-Bill which the course took a minor chunk of, compared to the results I’ve gotten for having used the program, it was peanuts to the elephant. Course length called for an up-tempo daily grind, just enough to keep me sharp and in-tune with the work without ever being outpaced, even if I missed a day.

Q: Did you encounter any obstacles?

A: Plenty. My military obligations, transitioning out of the service, finding a home across the country, and the responsibility of a six-month-old to name a few. How did I overcome them? My family was my drive and TLG was my guide, combined there was nothing I could not accomplish. With every step forward my confidence grew.

Q: What tricks did you develop/employ to get through the content so quickly?

A: Simply put documentation as I progressed, however, I would be remiss not to give credit where its due. The course structure builds on the previous lesson which is essential to learning continuity. The fusion of these two tactics created a wavelength between the cohort and instructor that if it were ever disturbed returning to a previous topic could bring any of us back to speed.

Q: What was your career like before?

A: My career was mostly militant with a decent helping of actual IT work.

Q: How does it compare to now?

A: Now it’s mostly technical, which allows me to focus on my craft, learn where my skills are lacking and exposing myself to constructive feedback of certified professionals so that I may effectively fill those gaps. Landing a role with Microsoft solidified the benefits of the program opening career paths that otherwise may have been more difficult to obtain.

Q: How do you expect it to be in the coming year?

A: I expect to flourish. After my first week, I knew I had an advantage off the bat. Most of my colleagues were impressed with my technical knowledge. Still, I intend to expand on the fundamentals and aim to move up once I’ve mastered the Data Center Tech role.

Q: Would you recommend this program to others?

A: With my right hand raised; Yes! I’m not sure where I would be in my career without it. It’s for this very reason alone that it is worth the time and effort. If anyone needed support to consider this, TLG Learning is not only an organization that will make you technically competitive but will continuously advocate for you in an ever-changing IT market until you land a job.