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WOMEN: GENDER DIVERSITY AND EQUALITY


How a Tech Career Changed My Life After the Military

By Alpha Germain, Senior Analyst, Accenture Federal Services, San Antonio

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After changing my life by pursuing a technology career, I am trying to help others understand how you can turn your life around.

I was born in St. Croix, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and I joined the U.S. Air Force in 2004. But by the summer of 2015, now a military veteran, I was at a point where I couldn’t see things getting better and was ready to give up.

I had just moved to the D.C. area for a new position as an Air Transportation Specialist for the government. Before that, I’d been unemployed for a year, and I was struggling to make ends meet.

My daughter, Daliyah, was 8 years old and was living in Florida with my aunt and uncle, who offered to care for her since I could not afford a place of my own. I was due to get her back in August 2015.

I was staying with a close friend, sleeping on an air mattress in her living room and commuting more than two hours daily to Baltimore for work. With the salary I was making, I had no clue how I was going to afford my own place, let alone take care of my daughter.

I knew I needed to make a change. I decided that since I lived in the D.C. area and had a government security clearance (making me eligible for access to classified information), that it would be strategic to pursue an IT career with the government, which would pay enough for me to care for my family.

In hopes of making this career shift, I volunteered to be the night shift IT admin at my job and took classes in IT.

A few weekends later, while I was attending my military drill weekend, standard for reservists, our base chaplain handed out information for NS2 Serves, a non-profit organization that trains veterans for high-tech careers and helps them gain employment.

I applied. Although my family was skeptical and thought the opportunity was too good to be true, I knew it was my path.

The program was beginning in August, when I was supposed to reunite with my daughter. I had to swallow my pride and beg Daliyah’s father to keep her for 12 weeks if I was accepted into the program. I heard criticisms about my neglecting my daughter, that I was being selfish and that the program was probably a scam, but I persevered.

“You need to find strength in the face of adversity; it is not the obstacle, but how we choose to react that determines greatness.”

In the midst of all of this, my grandfather died in Haiti where he lived. My family is close, and it really hit me hard.

I had missed my grandmother’s funeral a few years earlier because I was on active duty orders with the military, and I felt I couldn’t miss my grandfather’s. So, I had to get a passport within a week and find money for a flight to Haiti for the funeral at the same time I was supposed to start my annual tour, a standard two-week commitment for reservists, and have my interview for NS2 Serves.

I believe that you need to find strength in the face of adversity; it is not the obstacle, but how we choose to react that determines greatness.

I was thrilled to be accepted into the training program and graduated after 12 weeks. When I began the program, I had no experience with SAP business software. Now, I have two critical certifications in one of the largest industries.

Afterwards, I joined Accenture in 2016, in the Technology & Innovation Center in San Antonio, where I work as a systems developer in software engineering.

I am part of a team that helps our client, a defense support agency, use specialized procurement software. My job involves working with clients to improve program performance. I find it particularly rewarding because I am working for an organization that supports the U.S. military.

I believe agility and teamwork are the most important lessons I learned in my military career. Agility helps me handle unpredictability within assignments and within the company and allows me to adapt with ease. Being in the military taught me to work well with others and never leave a man or woman behind, no matter what the task.

Accenture-Alpha-body

Me, my daughter, and Condoleezza Rice, former US Secretary of State, at the National Security Solutions Summit, where I gave a speech.

Accenture employs more than 1,000 former members of the U.S. Armed Forces and has a plan to hire more U.S. veterans and military spouses. We also have a dedicated team that focuses on attracting great talent from the military, in part by working with military-focused nonprofit organizations and by attending career fairs.

Personally, I am active as a fundraising lead with our Military Employee Resource Group at Accenture. We recently raised more than $1,500 for the United Service Organizations (USO) and donated 100 lunch box kits to Soldiers’ Angels.

I am also involved with Accenture’s African American Employee Resource Group and am on the Y Living Centers Board of Advisors and a member of the United Way of San Antonio’s Emerging Leaders Council, where my daughter and I volunteer on weekends.

Most importantly, I now have my daughter back with me, and I can give her a stable life. She is very happy and has made honor roll at her school since we’ve been reunited. We not only have our own apartment, but we’re also saving to buy a home of our own—something that I couldn’t even dream about before.

My daughter makes me better because I want to give her a better life and show her that she can do anything she puts her mind to.

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