Tony Medina

Class 6

A lucky moment...

It was one of those very hot summers in Iraq where generator after generator, keeping our AC running, kept bursting into flames. That’s the summer I decided when my tour of duty was over, I’d go home to California and go to college. After eight years and achieving my Master’s Degree I realized being a teacher was not my calling. Several months later I moved to Austin, Texas. I had no idea how hard it would be to find work in Austin; most of the positions were technology-centric. I was at the unemployment office when I overheard someone talking about Veterans4Quality. That’s when my career took on a whole new direction.

Learning about learning...

I was a mechanic in the military because, like many things I’ve learned in my life, I like to take on those areas I know nothing about. I also chose to study math because I wasn’t good at it. Veterans4Quality introduced me to a new industry where, once again, the only limitation to learning was myself. Veterans4Quality taught me new skills and gave me a marketable expertise, but more importantly, showed me how to turn these new skills into more than a job; it gave me a career.

The journey continues...

Upon finishing the Veterans4Quality three-month program, I began working as a 90-day intern. Here I could bring value as a new software quality assurance engineer on a team. I quickly moved to a full-time hire upon completion of my internship. Over the past four years my continued learning in the software technology field has helped me in multiple positions, as a data science engineer and Agile ScrumMaster. I love solving interesting problems with motivated people in an amazing industry. Today, if the AC goes out, I just grab an ice water and call a mechanic!

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Jeff McGee

Class 1

Making the team...

I am a native Austinite passionate about sports, especially football, since the age of 5. When my dream to play in the NFL was dashed in my senior year of high school, I decided to join the military. 23 years 6 months and 18 days later, I completed my United States Army career when an injury left me unable to continue to serve. It was time to decide what team to join next.

Supporting a new team...

The economy was less than robust when I retired, and I was forced to settle for a job I didn’t actually like. It was monotonous, unchallenging and provided no future opportunity. When I learned of Veterans4Quality people said, “it’s probably a scam”. Allow me share with you the “scam” this opportunity provided me.

Veterans4Quality gave me more opportunity than I could have imagined. My knowledge about the tech industry was very limited, however, at the briefing Ms. Brenda Hall stated, “if you have the attention to detail to find IED’s in theater then you can certainly find bugs in software.” She challenged us to use our skills obtained as a soldier, combine it with their courseware, and create a win-win opportunity for ourselves, our families and the industry. I had found my new team.

Before entering Veterans4Quality, cake PhP sounded like something I would eat, python was a snake, and Java was a fancy cup of coffee. After the first class I realized two things: 1) This was not a scam, but a legitimate opportunity, built by fantastic people that wanted to give back to the people who protect our freedoms, and 2) I needed to get to work on my future.

Leading a future team...

With the life lessons we gain in the military and the completion of the Veterans4Quality program, I began my career at Whole Foods as a software tester. That was more than 6 years ago where I am still gainfully employed. The Veterans4Quality leadership kept reminding all us to ‘never stop learning’. I took that to heart and so far, have completed 100+ course credit hours on Edx, mastered the Agile methodology and become a certified ScrumMaster, Advanced ScrumMaster, Product Owner, SAFe practitioner and SAFe Scrum Master.

The leadership skills I learned in the military and the technology knowledge I continue to gain, show how valuable I can be in the software assurance industry. My next goal is to continue forward on my journey to become a team leader. As a graduate of the very first Veterans4Quality class, I know technology is essential in our future. I invest in my future every day and so can you.

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Patrick Schultz

Class 11

I needed a new purpose...

Sam Blanks, Fort Hood Career Advisor, was the one to introduce me to the Veterans4Quality program. I was searching for a program that would increase my options once I left the Air Force. In this program I found what I valued most, passionate teachers and a network ready to support my career search. I needed a new purpose, one that was exciting, one that in some ways would compete with wearing the uniform.

Overcoming the next challenge...

After spending several years as a Staff Weather Officer at Fort Hood, I decided to move onto my next chapter. The learning curve was steep. I entered the Veterans4Quality program with Six Sigma experience and a degree in Meteorology, but software testing would be brand new to me. Tackling this new challenge, I leaned on the principles of success I learned in the military. First, you need a mentor, someone who can guide you and coach you through the challenges you face. Second, you need drive, the ability to persevere through self-doubt and to keep your focus on the goal. And third, you need a team you can depend on. In the military, this is a fundamental belief that we all share.

Your team ALWAYS has your back.

It was great to see how valuable team and trust are in the IT workplace. You cannot create good software without developer/tester collaboration, and you definitely benefit from others sharing their experience and by sharing your own.

A new horizon...

To future students, I’ve been where you are. I understand the uncertainty of transitioning out of the military. My classmates and I are proof that this is a program you can believe in. You rarely find the intersection of high expectations and realistic outcomes.

When you do, recognize it and take off.

Aim High!

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Chanda Shrestha

Class 10

From anxious about the future...

“Daunting and confused – best describes my mindset as I prepared to transition outside the Army. The Army taught me to be focused, detail-oriented and have perseverance. Imagine my delight when I discovered Veterans4Quality which required these same attributes. Using the basics that I learned in the Army and adding the technical skills learned in this program, I transitioned from someone with an unknown future to someone trained and ready to join a rapidly growing industry with unlimited potential for a lifetime of employment.

Through determined to learn...

Today I work with brilliant scientists and engineers every day. I own a house, and I contribute monthly to an IRA with, get this, disposable income! I have a savings account and the life I dreamt about a few years ago. The Air Force taught me to push hard to reach a goal. I’m grateful to put that hard-earned knowledge to work. Time to set new goals!

This would be my first technical class so I expected a big learning curve ahead. My degree in Accounting was beneficial and I considered returning to school for a Masters. Instead, I joined Veterans4Quality which was free to me as a Veteran. We had volunteer instructors from renowned companies that were fascinating and very inspiring. I remember one instructor who had been a music major and hearing their stories increased my confidence that I could thrive in the IT economy ahead.

We learned the fundamentals of Software Quality Assurance, the importance of a test plan, configuration management, working with developers, change management, issues handling and more. The networking event helped introduce me to companies that wanted, and needed, my new skills and valued my military service. When I graduated, I had a job and a new beginning.

To ready, willing and ABLE...

I’ve changed companies and been promoted all because of my new and hard-earned skills. Look me up on LinkedIn and you’ll see that I’m a SaaS Operations Engineer at a well-known global company. Previously shut doors have opened and I am ready for anything. My new career has given me the opportunity to support my family, purchase my first home, become financially sound and invest for my future. I was overwhelmed and vulnerable facing my military transition. I will never fear the future again.

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Brandon Cowart

Class 9

Do whatever it takes to reach your dream...

“I apologize for sweating in your car”, I would sheepishly say as I handed the customer their keys. I would then sprint the mile back to pick up the next car. I was thirty-one, three years post Air Force, with a college degree and working seventy hours a week as a valet earning nine bucks an hour to stay afloat financially.

I was told that if I wanted to get a good job, I could teach myself to code. I did every tutorial and free course I could find. And waited for the flood of companies to call me, asking if I would be willing to work with them. Those calls never came.

Living the dream...

Today I work with brilliant scientists and engineers every day. I own a house, and I contribute monthly to an IRA with, get this, disposable income! I have a savings account and the life I dreamt about a few years ago. The Air Force taught me to push hard to reach a goal. I’m grateful to put that hard-earned knowledge to work. Time to set new goals!

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Andrew Becerra

Class 8

If at first you don’t succeed...

Imagine transitioning out of the US Army in Nov 2009 with no direction on what to do next. For six years I started and stopped college classes and battled PTSD until I found a program which pairs Service Dogs, where I met Piper and who has been with me every day and sleepless night since.

In the spring of 2017, I was outside my apartment brushing Piper when a neighbor, walking his dog, told me he was taking the Veterans4Quality class and how it taught him QA and how to find employment. I enrolled in May and before finishing was offered and accepted my first IT job. I was finally on my way forward.

My new adventure...

Little did I know when I graduated just how well prepared I was for the work ahead. I was ‘tossed into the fire’ day one with features to test and a hard release date. I started by developing a test plan and creating a test suite with all proper documentation while I manually tested features and bug fixes.

Asking questions, breaking the problem down, shadowing developers and learning new skills are the fundamentals for success in my new career. Every day is a new challenge, something new to learn, a new goal to reach; this keeps my mind working and the job interesting.

My life since Veterans4Quality...

Life outside of work is amazing. My new career in IT came with an income that has rapidly increased and allowed my family and I to enjoy homeownership, investments in our future and financial stability. We are expecting our second daughter and I now have peace of mind knowing that my career is successfully underway.

I am proud of my transition out of the military, which has been really more of a transformation. QA is not a solo act, it’s a team approach all the way. The Army prepared me for teamwork and Veterans4Quality prepared me for the work I now deliver on that team. I’m living my best life now.

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