I served eight years in the Marines and was honorable discharged as a Sergeant. Come May 2018 I finally graduated from the University of Houston with a Bachelors in Computer Information Systems. Since then I have applied at numerous places, and even had four in person interviews. However, without any professional experience in the Computer Field it seems impossible to get your foot into the door with a company. I am starting to get worried now as it has been six months since I graduated, and I have yet to find a career path that would allow me to utilize and expand my knowledge in the industry. It seems the only people who want ‘recent college graduates’ are companies that invest more training into you (I believe pay you $8 an hour during this) then lock you into a two-year contract and ship you to wherever they need (East Coast) to do work for companies that are their clients. From what I have heard it is not the best gig and if they find any reason to kick you from the program you owe them some ridiculous amount of money. I have two daughters and too many bills for this to be financially possible for me and feel the amount of training I have received is adequate to be a contributing team member in a professional organization. The main platforms I have applied though is Zip Recruiter, LinkedIn, USAJobs.gov, Monster and Military Hire/Hire Purpose. My question is if this is common for most people, one thing to add during my College years I was not active with the VA or any college sponsored networking events. I drove to class and came home right after. Looking back now I should have been more involved but anyways any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for your 8 years of service to our country.
Since you graduated with your bachelors (congratulations!) so recently, have you tried contacting the University of Houston alumni or career center to see if they have any resources they can offer you? These resources could be networking events, resume reviews, job listings, interview coaching, etc. If you haven't reached out to your alma mater yet, I would suggest that as your next step.
Thanks for your service and congrats on your recent completion of a bachelors degree in computer science.
First, you're absolutely correct, stay away from any program or employer that wants you to pay them or puts strict requirements and agreements in place as a condition of continued employment.
Second, I see that you're applying to platforms, and while that can be a good way to find a lot of opportunities in one place, I'd suggest doing some research on local companies and engaging with them directly. You can do that by researching when and where they'll have host or attend career fairs and learning more about their hiring practices. When I think of Houston, I think "oil and gas" industry and I'm sure that some of the big names there have veteran hiring programs as well as entry level IT and computer engineering programs.
It will take a little more effort but look for a company that has values and culture where you align since you don't want a job, you want a career.
1) Look at Federal IT jobs. With a college degree, you can apply to GS-5 jobs. If you had superior academic achievement (GPA of 3 or better), you might be eligible for some GS-7 jobs even. If you have service-related disability, your veterans preference will give you a leg up compared to civilian applicants.
2) Go get certifications! In today's IT field, certs are just as important as degrees, perhaps even more so. Even if you're working entry-level jobs, go get CompTIA, MS, or Cisco certifications, it will up your value as a job applicant.
A lot of job search is reactive not proactive. Change that. Texas business is growing and many businesses are looking for good people but they are busy running and growing their businesses. Go on Linked In and search for the businesses you want to work for, are there Marine Vets in positions of authority there or vets period? Are there U of H grads working there in HR or executive roles? Call them and ask if you can visit with them as you need help in developing your career track and finding mentors in the business world for when you ETS. Getting past the gatekeepers may be tough at first but you will be amazed at how much people want to help people. Who knows one may even give you a job or be the referral to a job that you need. Either way don't wait for them to pick your resume out of a stack - get the career you want.
All the best,
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