Blue Star Families’ annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey (aMFLS) provides a comprehensive understanding of the experiences and challenges encountered by military families. According to the 2018 survey, financial concerns related to military spouses’ employment, and pay and benefits, are two of the top five issues for military families. According to the Department of Defense data, 24% of the military spouse labor force remains unemployed. That’s six times higher than the national unemployment rate. With over 4 million open cybersecurity positions around the world, the cybersecurity industry is an excellent opportunity for veteran and military spouse jobseekers.

Fortinet’s Veterans Program works with veterans and military spouses to help provide them with opportunities in cybersecurity. By providing career coaching, mentoring, and training connecting them to an ecosystem of employers, the Veterans Program is helping to bridge the skills gap and connecting veterans and their spouses to careers in cybersecurity.

Veterans Program Helps Military Spouses Find Roles in Cybersecurity

Emerald Trejo, a U.S. Navy spouse, is a graduate of the Fortinet Network Security Expert Training Institute’s Veterans Program. Through this initiative, Fortinet provided Emerald with mentoring and resume feedback, and connected her to multiple employers. Through this process, Emerald was offered and accepted a role as a Software Developer with DefendEdge, a Fortinet partner. Through a digital conversation, we learned more about Emerald’s experience with the Veterans Program and how she—like many others—benefited from the program’s connection to employers.  

Can you tell me more about your current role that Fortinet’s Veterans Program connected you to?

I work remotely as a Software Developer for a Chicago-based cybersecurity startup called DefendEdge. DefendEdge is a Fortinet partner and is one of the employers I interviewed with after getting connected to various hiring managers through Fortinet’s Veterans Program. In my current role, I develop and test some great software for the growth of the company. My favorite thing to do is develop automation scripts and write Python programs.

How did you get involved with the Veterans Program and how has it benefited you?

I applied through CASY, a Fortinet Authorized Security Academy. CASY is a nonprofit organization that assists veterans and military spouses find jobs and as an Authorized Security Academy is able to give its members—like myself—access to Fortinet’s Network Security Expert training. They referred me to the Veterans Program given my interest in IT and I applied. I had already completed my Network Security Expert training level 1 and 2 and was then accepted into the program where I was provided opportunities to not only receive more training but also was connected with employers.

How far did you get into the NSE training and did you find it useful?

I have completed NSE1 and NSE2 and currently am working on NSE4. The training and NSE certifications make a candidate stand out from the rest when applying for roles at Fortinet or with a Fortinet partner. I have seen firsthand how my training comes up in interviews and is valued by employers.

What unique challenges do military spouses face and how did this program assist?

One challenge is not having the funds or resources to pursue further educational opportunities. We all know that certifications are not cheap. A great thing about this program is that it allows military spouses access to free cybersecurity training with exam vouchers for certifications that would have otherwise forced me into debt. Being connected to a network of employers also helped because it allowed my BattleCard (resume) to stand out more.

What is the benefit of hiring military spouses?

Our biggest strength is being agile. We adapt to change and overcome all obstacles quickly. We plan ahead and navigate through the various challenges, possibilities and events at hand. We are hardworking because we know that with the military life comes relocations and moving to different duty stations, so we need to prove to our employers that we have work ethic and to look past our geographical location.

What would you say are the benefits to a company for hiring someone from the Veterans Program?

We have unlimited free access to test materials to keep our knowledge up to date on key security technology and concepts. To be part of the Veterans Program you go through a screening and interview, so you are getting a trusted employee from the start.

Find out more about Fortinet’s NSE Training Institute programs, including the Certification ProgramSecurity Academy Program and Veterans Program, which provide critical cybersecurity training and education to help solve the cyber skills gap and prepare the cybersecurity workforce of tomorrow.

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