Joining Forces 1 Year Anniversary: Supporting Veterans Transitioning to Civilian IT Careers

In April of 2013, NetApp partnered with the White House’s Joining Forces IT Training and Certification Program to offer our new, NetApp Certified Storage Associate certification (NCSA) to military service personnel.  The program’s goal is to develop and document the IT skills of military personnel – from all of the service branches – to assist them in getting the “foot-in-the-door” first interview as they transition back into civilian life.  We closed the first year with some great momentum and impact!

What is it?              

The NCSA is an entry-level certification designed to familiarize transitioning veterans with storage technology and terminology, NetApp® products and solutions, and the skills to accomplish basic tasks with the NetApp Data ONTAP® architecture.   Many of the service personnel have had some exposure to NetApp systems and/or IT experience or education while on active duty – gaining a NetApp certification rounds out their credentials and increases the chances of landing a high-demand IT job.  NetApp stepped up, committing up to 500 NCSA “scholarships” to program participants and by making all of NetApp’s job vacancies visible through the program’s on-line, job match service.

It’s in the numbers 

Since the launch of this pilot program last year, we have enrolled over 230 active-duty service personnel in the NCSA certification courses. NetApp has worked with service points of contacts (SPC) from each of the service branches to recruit eligible participants, and to enrich the skill set, technical abilities and marketability of our returning veterans so that they can start a new career.  In fact, the first person in the world to achieve the NCSA certification was a Marine returning from Afghanistan.

This is not just a "feel-good" program; it offers cutting-edge training for real jobs that have a direct and positive impact on veterans’ lives.  And, customers and partners who are using our solutions now have a growing pool of outstanding veteran candidates to feed the NetApp talent ecosystem.  It is a true win-win.

So, what people are saying?

USAF:
“Thanks again for this outstanding opportunity benefiting America’s Airmen.  Nearly 120 applicants responded to my recent data call for the 50 NetApp scholarships you’ve made available.  I’ve pre-screened and sorted the qualifications of each applicant, and believe that I can offer you an exceptional group of motivated veterans ready to take on the challenge offered by the NCSA course.  We’re extremely grateful for your generous support and thrilled that you’ve offered to take on ALL of the qualified candidates! Thank you so much for the fantastic work you’re doing on behalf of our veterans.  NetApp is making a meaningful difference in the lives of our servicemen and women.  We salute you.”-- Alexandre E. Hall, SMSgt, USAF, AF 3D0XX Assistant Career Field Manager, SAF/CIO, the Pentagon

NetApp Partner:

“I am very impressed with these Public/Private partnership efforts and with NetApp’s training and certification resources for transitioning veterans. As you know, we hired one of the first NCSA graduates from the IT Certification program, Capt. Andrew Marsh, and we have been so impressed with him, we sponsored his follow-on training to your PS Academy. Andrew now has an NCSA, an NCDA, a NCIE and a NAIP certification from NetApp. While that seems like a lot of letters after his name, what this means to PGTEK, is that we now have an outstanding, highly trained storage-virtualization consultant who brings a U.S. Marine’s leadership and can-do attitude too. We could use a dozen more like him!” --Scott Bollar, Vice President, PGTEK

Program Participant:
"I have been a Systems/Network/Server Admin. in the Army for pretty much the last 8 years.  In my last unit we did have a couple NetApp Storage units.  I've completed my CompTIA A+, Net+, and Sec+ all within the last 4 months.  I'm pursuing a degree in IT.  I plan on getting my CCNA/CCNP within the next year.  I love computers and networking.  It's been my passion since I was like 12 and I am looking forward to learning and earning the NCSA Certification next.  Thanks in advance for this opportunity." -- Adam T. Neiderhiser, SPC USA RETIRED, Fort Bragg, NC

Employee:

“As an Account Manager calling on the U.S. Army, I love talking to soldiers about our Joining Forces program.  When I am discussing with customers how NetApp supports them from a mission perspective, it is very helpful to also add how we can support soldiers and veterans in their personal development when they are ready for civilian life. I am so proud to work for a company that gives back to the men and women who give so much to protect my freedom.“-- Beth Ann Thomas, Account Manager, Army Tactical Team, NetApp

A Continuing Commitment
And while the program and training is changing lives in unexpected ways, the relationships with the veterans, and other organizations such as Hire Our Heroes, and the Enabled Veteran Programs at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, have afforded NetApp even more opportunities to give back to the nation’s veterans.

We want to continue the momentum and have begun discussions with the DoD regarding the next phase of the Joining Forces initiative.  In the interim, if you know of an active duty service personnel or a recently discharged veteran that could benefit from this kind of training opportunity, drop a note to  Mark.Conway3@netapp.com.

Mark Conway, Sr.Program Lead, NetApp Academic Alliances, NetApp