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Veterans have valuable skills that don’t always show up on resumes.
Just ask JR Avalos, a former U.S. Navy corpsman who transitioned from a combat medic treating U.S. Marines to a career in tech.
His journey to Accenture began with the North America Apprenticeship Program. But how far he’s come is a credit to his military skills and his ability to harness the power of change to make a difference in the world.
From the military to the corporate world
The five years I spent in the Navy taught me a lot about what I’m capable of. I served as a Hospital Corpsman – Fleet Marine Force, responsible for the health and safety of my Marines.
But after serving, I wanted a change—to completely venture out and explore a variety of career fields. So I did what I thought was a natural job transition: I began working with private military organizations in the executive-protection area. But it wasn’t the big leap I was looking for. It wasn’t the start of a career.
I researched possible apprenticeship programs, specifically looking for opportunities in software engineering. I happened to find Accenture’s Military Recruiting Group on LinkedIn. Through that group and the veteran-to-veteran connection, I connected with a fellow veteran at Accenture and discovered the apprenticeship program.
My veteran apprenticeship
When I joined the program, my eyes were opened to the corporate world. I was excited to work in technology, something that seemed beyond reach for myself and countless other veterans without a tech degree. The structured, “earn and learn” apprenticeship program provides training and real-world experience so we can all build great tech careers.
What started as a pilot program with five students in Chicago has blossomed into a national movement, with more than 700 apprentices across 20 offices in North America. This means underserved groups have greater access to innovation economy jobs and workers whose jobs have been, or will be, disrupted by technology can get reskilled.
I was glad to learn that over 25% of our apprentices are veterans and military spouses. From day one, I built amazing relationships and dove straight into my work.
The guidance and support I received when placed on my first project cemented my thoughts about working at Accenture. It also solidified my drive to succeed and to excel in everything I did as an apprentice.
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"Over 25% of our apprentices are veterans and military spouses."
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Work with impact
After my apprenticeship, I started as a Business Analyst, where I continued to learn and improve my skills. My second role was far more technical, where I gained confidence using soft skills and project-management skills.
I’m now in a Project Manager and Scrum Master role, helping teams self-organize, self-manage and deliver IT products in an effective, agile way. I help the team coordinate dependencies with other teams and communicate project status.
I want to do work that makes a difference, and my real passion is helping children. I was fortunate to be involved with a recent project, helping low-income children receive a free internet hotspot device to do schoolwork at home.
As the Technical Product Manager for the data service team, I researched and designed business requirements for the product. I felt a huge sense of pride and purpose working on this project, knowing how it would impact our youth.
That sense of purpose, coupled with the ability to work in different areas within technology, provides the growth and experience I was searching for. I never feel “siloed” into working in one area at Accenture. And the flexibility and access to continual training keeps my skills fresh.
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Support for our veterans
It’s these kinds of apprentice programs, along with military hiring programs and pro bono work for the military community, that helps people like me transition to new opportunities.
But just as importantly, our veterans, National Guard, Reservists, and military spouses at Accenture continue to step up as incredible volunteers within our organization, continuing to find ways to lead change within our communities.
For any veterans who are interested in this type of work but may not have a degree or a background in tech or consulting, simply reach out to an Accenture military recruiter. Do your research, make connections on LinkedIn and find other veterans within Accenture to connect with.
But most importantly, don’t sell yourself short. Your skills and leadership from your time in the military make you valuable and adaptable to the world of technology.
Conducting tactical medicine in high-stress, hostile environments taught me adaptability. Being entrusted with the lives of my comrades at such a young age taught me leadership. And both were essential to my transition into a technology career.
Learn more about our support for military veterans and spouses, and how you might benefit from the Accenture apprenticeship program.
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