Need Talent? Consider Hiring Our Heroes

As the public and private sectors struggle to find technology and security professionals with the right talent, skills, integrity, work ethic, perseverance and attitude to excel in the 21st century, I strongly urge you to consider ‘Hiring Our Heroes.’ This effective fellowship program helps military veterans transition into civilian life, and offers so much more. Here’s what you need to know and how your organization can benefit from this outstanding program.

by / October 16, 2016
Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program, Fort Carson, CO - October, 2016 Cohort

I was recently asked to speak to a very special group of talented people who were selected to take part in a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Fellowship program called "Hiring Our Heroes" in Fort Carson, Colo. I was truly honored to participate, and my presentation on opportunities in the cybersecurity industry and security career opportunities was this past week.

I first learned about this special program from my talented nephew, Jason Lohrmann, who is himself transitioning from military to civilian life. Once I researched the organization, I was inspired by the group, their passion, their great questions and the overall program.

What Is Hiring Our Heroes? An Interview with the Colorado Program Manager

As I was preparing for my presentation, which I will describe later in this blog, I learned quite a bit about this great program from Lindsay L. Teplesky, program manager for the Hiring our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program in Fort Carson, Colo.

Here’s my interview with Lindsay:

Dan Lohrmann (DL): Can you briefly describe the Hiring Our Heroes program?

Lindsay Teplesky (LT): The Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program provides transitioning service members with management training and hands-on experience in the civilian workforce, expanding corporate America's understanding of the veteran job market and preparing transitioning service members for smooth transitions into civilian careers.

We match active-duty service members as fellows with participating companies based on the skills and preferences of both parties. Most fellows are senior enlisted service members or junior officers who are transitioning into the civilian workforce within the next six months. Our 12-week program is hosted by military installations across the country.

DL: Is the program all over the U.S.? How many people participate nationwide? How many have gone through the program?

LT: Each installation typically hosts two to three cohorts of 15-30 fellows per year.

  • HOH has hosted 15 fellowship cohorts in seven locations since January 2015
  • Approximately 400 fellows have participated in the program
  • Average class size is 20 fellows
  • National average placement rate is 80 percent
  • National average salaries from the program is $70,000
  • HOH works with over 125 companies nationally

The map of all of our participating sites can be found at our website: https://www.uschamberfoundation.org/corporate-fellowship-program-0

DL: What do participants do? Who presents to them on what topics?

LT: Hiring Our Heroes invites industry experts to impart their wisdom to military veterans with eight to 30 years in the military and is now venturing in to the unchartered waters of corporate/civilian America. Some of the topics covered include: "Leveraging Your LinkedIn Page," "Personal Branding and Networking," and "The Value of Certifications" (e.g., PMP).

Participants take classes, gain certifications, practice interviewing, strengthen their resumes, work in various professional roles with program participating public and private sector organizations and much more. 

We greatly appreciated your presentation on the cybersecurity industry, current job opportunities and future cybertrends. I really appreciated that your presentation was able to resonate with our cyberfolks while still being applicable to those of us who do not have a computer science background.

DL: How can employers get in touch with the program participants? How can readers learn more?

LT: On our Hireourheroes.org website there are FAQs and an application for employers who are interested in finding out more about participating in the program. 

The requirements are pretty simple for host companies — companies must have the ability to train fellows Monday through Wednesday in management-level positions or equivalent professional opportunities; must be located within 75 miles of the participation installation; must offer training in positions typically requiring a bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience; and must be willing to interview fellows for management or comparable salary level, and/or willing to refer and assist fellows in finding jobs elsewhere in their network. 

Our host companies include large corporations such as Amazon, Starbucks, Cintas and Comcast as well as smaller, local businesses such as Braxton Technologies, Tech Wise, and the Broadmoor Hotel here in Colorado Springs.  

DL: Thank you Lindsay for all you do and for your role in supporting this wonderful organization.

Fellows placed with TechWise

Final Thoughts

Over the past few years, I have written many times about the cybertalent shortage as being the No. 1 challenge to public-sector organizations across the country. I truly believe that this Hiring Our Heroes program may be a good answer for some. These trusted military veterans offer numerous skills as well as clearances and practical, hands-on work experience. Many of these veterans have specific technical skills, and most have practical management experience around the world. Best of all, the program is nationwide, so many states can participate.

At the same time, I told these program participants that they should seriously consider the advantages of government cyberjobs. My presentation was on “Why security pros fail — and what to do about it.” I also included some of the material from my ISSA (Information Systems Security Association) presentation on: “The Top Five Mistakes New Security Leaders Make.”

Finally, I encouraged all of them to find a good mentor who is 10 or more years ahead of them in their career to help them in their journey.

For readers who are looking for new ways (and sources) to bring technology and security talent into their organizations, I strongly urge you to take a look at this great Hiring Our Heroes program.