How These Transitioning Veterans and Military Spouses Used USO Pathfinder® and Google to Find Success

By Ellen Lemieux

Service members and military spouses who are transitioning out of the military are talented individuals with years of employment and unique life experiences.

Although they often have diverse career paths, many service members and military spouses emerge from their time in the military with a shared set of soft skills like effective communication, teamwork, leadership and adaptability. These soft skills – rooted in the ability to be flexible and manage relationships with other people – are highly sought-after by employers. However, despite having these soft skills, many members of the military community – both spouses and service members – struggle to find employment when transitioning out of the military and into civilian life.

One way service members and military spouses can navigate roadblocks on the path to finding employment in the civilian world is to have a strategic plan for their path forward – something the USO Pathfinder® program can help them create.

Planning for the Future

The goal of the USO Pathfinder program is to assist transitioning service members and their spouses in developing a personalized career plan. While there are many jobs out there, the USO Pathfinder program wants to help members of the military community find the right job.

In the USO’s efforts to help these individuals showcase their skills and find that right job, the organization has partnered with Google to offer an opportunity to USO Pathfinder program participants.

Through this partnership, Google has funded scholarships to provide training and career guidance for transitioning service members, military spouses and veterans through the Google IT Support Professional Certificate. This self-paced, online program requires participants to complete a series of courses to earn their Google IT Support Professional Certificate, which can be a first step in opening doors into the IT field of work.

Incorporating the Google IT Support Professional Certificate into the USO Pathfinder program has been incredibly successful, with program participants of all backgrounds enrolling and seeking to become more marketable in the civilian work world. Here are a few of their stories:

Guli Atakuzieva

Guli Atakuzieva has juggled multiple PCS moves, her husband’s deployment and her three children all while earning a bachelor’s degree and her Google IT Support Professional Certificate. | Photo credit Courtesy Photo

For Guli Atakuzieva – a military spouse of a current, active duty member of the Army with three kids ranging in age from kindergarten to high school – this certificate has allowed her to focus on a career in the IT field. Guli, like many military spouses, is constantly adapting to the struggles of finding time for herself, creating her own career goals and then actually reaching them. With each PCS move, Guli has focused on getting her family settled before working on finishing her associate degree.

After getting her children established in school after a recent move, Guli happened to visit the USO Warrior and Family Center at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. There, she learned about the USO Pathfinder program and the Google IT Support Professional Certificate. She found the program to be extremely supportive as it helped her find confidence in her career path.

Midway through the process of earning her Google IT Support Professional Certificate, she decided to focus her studies towards a bachelor’s degree in computer science. While Guli was simultaneously working on her certificate and her degree, her husband took a one-year assignment overseas. Despite this obstacle, Guli is juggling life as a solo parent while still working toward building a foundation in IT. Guli’s perseverance in obtaining her certificate and managing her life as a military spouse illustrates her soft skills of adaptability, problem solving and dedication that will likely be useful in her future career.

Ricardo Rebellion

Retired Army Combat Medic Ricardo Rebellion took a lifelong interest in IT and leveraged it into a civilian job with the Marine Corps after completing the Google IT Support Professional Certificate through the USO Pathfinder program. | Photo credit Courtesy Photo

After more than 20 years and two deployments to the Middle East, retired Army Combat Medic Ricardo Rebellion knew it was time to do something different.

While in the military, he developed an interest in helping people with IT issues. He knew such a career would be competitive and challenging. Upon speaking with a USO Transition Specialist, he learned about the Google IT Support Professional Certificate and he promptly enrolled. Completing the Google IT Support Professional Certificate gave Ricardo a new sense of purpose and provided him with a foundation to build a career in the IT field.

Ricardo is currently working on an additional certification, as well as a master’s degree in computer science. Following his completion of the Google IT Support Professional Certificate, Ricardo’s military experience and soft skills in problem-solving and communication helped him secure his first civilian job with the Marine Corps as an IT help desk analyst.

Tamara Brethouwer

Tamara Brethouwer, an Army spouse of over 16 years, has discovered an entirely new career path through the USO Pathfinder program and the Google IT Support Professional Certificate. | Photo credit Courtesy Photo

As an Army spouse of over 16 years, Tamara Brethouwer enjoyed the opportunities she discovered and the connections she made after completing the Google IT Support Professional Certificate.

“Thank you [to the] USO for allowing me the opportunity to upskill and gain confidence to pursue a career field that I previously hadn’t considered,” she said.

Tamara plans to leverage her master’s degree in human resources and the Google IT Support Professional Certificate to secure a position in an IT company’s human resources department. She feels that the Google IT Support Professional Certificate gave her the confidence and knowledge to navigate the IT field. Tamara’s journey on the path to employment has demonstrated her soft skills in adaptability and problem-solving, which she developed throughout her time in the military community. These skills have helped her become better-equipped to finding a new career and success.

Each of these USO Pathfinder program participants used their soft skills, military experience and new Google IT Support Professional Certificate to reach their unique personal career goals. These individual stories show how truly resilient and determined our military community is, and just how far they can go when equipped with a few new tools and some tangible guidance.

The success of our transitioning military members also demonstrates the immense impact programs like the USO Pathfinder program have on the military community, and how integral support from partners such as Google can make all the difference in a service member or military spouse’s career beyond the military.

As the Force Behind the Forces®, the USO stands firmly behind all members of the military community, from the moment they enlist through their transition to civilian life. These opportunities provided by the USO in partnership with Google will continue to equip our military members with skills that lead them to success – and empower our military community to be their own force for good in the civilian world.

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