U.S. Marine Corps - E-7 - 7041
After immigrating to the United States, Maria had an immediate desire to give back to her new country. In addition to that overarching goal, she also saw the incredible career opportunities the military can provide to service members who take advantage of the training they receive for their future civilian professions.
To pair her two goals of 1) serving her chosen nation and 2) preparing for a career, Maria joined the United States Marine Corps and became a 7041 Aviation Operation Specialist. As a 7041, Maria learned technical skills to develop operation flight plans, flight tracking, and troubleshoot computer-based flight systems that directly helped ensure the safety of her fellow Marines. These experiences also instilled soft skills such as discipline, a sense of responsibility, leadership, and self-motivation. Maria achieved the rank of Gunnery Sergeant during her active duty and reserve career.
After transferring to the Active Duty Reserve component, Maria had a continued interest in information technologies (IT) and began to pursue a related civilian career. She was eventually recalled for Desert Storm where she fine-tuned her skills as a Marine and a future IT professional. During that time, she put passion and energy into training for her civilian job while also serving the country and the Corps.
Maria’s focus paid off when she returned to the Reserves, completed her Bachelor’s degree in Information Systems, and began her IT career. On her first day, she immediately noticed similarities between the civilian and military sectors. For example, both had cutting-edge technology combined with older “legacy” systems. It was a lot like in the military where some units have the most modern technology while others do not. According to Maria, working in IT is all about creating and developing solutions to capitalize on efficiencies that drive business value, often by bridging the gap where technology is lacking. This is essentially the same strategy that the military services use to accomplish their mission, and that is what she works toward on a daily basis in her civilian career at Phillips 66.
Looking back on her transition, Maria offers other members of the Guard, the Reserve, transitioning service members, and Veterans a piece of advice:
“Be an active participant in driving your own military career and take advantage of the opportunities that will present themselves to you along the way. It’s very rare that someone gets from point A to B in a single shot—sometimes it takes some detours to get there. Remember that anything that comes your way is an opportunity; it just depends on how you look at it. Just change your perspective so you can utilize it to help you get down your desired path.”