I will never forget the first time I heard stories about basic training before heading out on a bus for San Antonio, Texas.
Other than the stories of the physical tests, it was the stories of tedious tasks such as folding t-shirts, socks and underwear a certain way that gave me apprehension. These articles of clothing had to measure a specific dimension, and even be placed in the locker drawer a certain way.
Along with many other tasks, these all proved to be true. After finally having done these “tedious tasks” and many more, I figured out that they served a greater purpose – being able to pay attention-to-details.
It is this soft skill, along with others, that give veterans a chance at becoming great web developers.
So here are the Top 10 Reasons Why Veterans Can Make Great Web Developers
1. Meticulous: You see it is the lack-of attention-to-detail that can get us into trouble. It can, and has, cost the government a lot of money, or worse yet – loss of life.
It would be an understatement to say that the software industry benefits from meticulous attention-to-detail. In fact, if you have been following the news lately, you’re probably familiar with the “typo” that was to blame for Amazon taking down a part of the Internet a week ago with its cloud-computing services.
Worse yet is one of the costliest programming mistakes in history (if not the most costly) that caused NASA to have to destroy the Mariner spacecraft in 1962 all because of a typo. This was an estimated $80 million-dollar loss in 1962 (equal to over $500 million in 2017 dollars).
We’re all human and accidents can still happen, but a keen eye for detail, even the mundane, lowers the risk.
2. Always Training: Whether it’s a willingness to learn or just being comfortable with the term training, veterans have been through it.
It starts with boot camp, then advanced training, then proficiency/recurring training and maybe even training on another weapon system at some point.
One thing is for certain – the military is always training and learning new things.
If there is one constant in information technology, it would have to be “change.”
In fact, web development seems to be the worst and can be portrayed as the Wild West, with languages and frameworks constantly coming and going – sometimes by the week.
3. Team Players: This skill should almost go without saying and has been covered a lot as a strength of veterans in general. It is true though; veterans know what it’s like to work on a team. Teamwork has been critical to our Nation’s success being the World’s peacekeeper.
This skill is equally critical to being successful in the development world.
Unless you are a lone-wolf freelancer, you will work on a team.
It does no one any good if you are an expert in something if you are not willing to share your knowledge and work well with others.
4. Security-Minded: “Loose lips sink ships” or “insert some other catch-phrase” that illustrates the effects of failed operational security.
Cyber security is a trendy term these days and for good reasons. We’ve seen story after story of hacked and compromised information systems for major corporations.
The general public has taken notice, whether by being victimized by ongoing breaches or even popular discussion of concerns for election hacking.
Developers should always be thinking about how their code can be exploited and penetrated. They have a responsible duty to secure and safeguard user data.
5. Culturally-Competent: The United States has been in active-conflict for over 15 years and the odds of a veteran who ventured out of the United States are high.
We’ve learned to work with multi-national groups and to adapt to various customs because in most cases, we share a common mission with the host country.
Likewise, multi-national software and web development teams are common and there are many cultures in the development workforce.
If fact, cultural proficiency, or cultural competence, is one of five skills that employers want, but do not list on job ads according to this article from fortune.com.
6. Persistent: Military training is most-often long and arduous; not all make it through without persistence. It’s a test of the mental and physical capacities.
The software development life cycle is most-often long and mentally difficult. Major web applications can take months, maybe even a year or two, of planning before development even begins. Then comes the actual engineering and development followed by testing and on and on.
Also, it’s not uncommon for developers to spend hours or more seeking the answer to a solution.
7. Agile/Adaptable: Missions can change because of bad intelligence or even updated intelligence, requiring thinking on your feet. You roll with the changes and get the mission done.
This adaptability is not foreign to the development world; especially as Agile software development continues to be popular.
8. Honorable: This is one of the main core values of the military. The Air Force calls it “Integrity First” and the Marines call it “Honor.”
Veterans have been trusted with millions and millions of dollars’ worth of government, tax-payer provided equipment and the power to carry out the Nation’s interests.
Doing what’s honorable has been a challenge for some in the development community, as the line between right and wrong was crossed recently according to revelations about unethical programming at Uber in a program called Greyball. These programmers were either more concerned about their job security and/or quite willingly went along with circumventing the law.
9. Quality-minded: Maybe it’s the NCO making sure his or her troops meet dress-and-appearance standards, or the inspector making sure a task was completed according to a specification or technical order.
Veterans are familiar with being critiqued for quality and it’s part of why our Nation’s military is so strong and capable.
Practice perfectly until you get it right.
Being willing to do something right the first time is not an innate skill. Many lines of code have been written that the developer could have done better, if they took them time to do a little more research, which leads me to my last soft skill – self-motivation.
10. Self-Motivated: Confidence gained from situations where veterans may have been the only one available to accomplish a task or objective on mission leads to self-motivation.
They’re less likely to sit idle while something needs to be done.
This translates to employees who will take the initiative to find solutions to problems, who are willing to go to online documentation or even search for answers through mediums such as Stack Overflow, a popular Q&A site among the development community.
These are just the top 10 reasons why veterans can make great web developers. They are soft skills that are becoming less common and take life experiences to learn.
If you are a veteran and looking to get into an exciting profession, consider web development. You already have the soft skills needed to excel.
If you are a prospective employer wondering if you should hire a veteran, consider whether you are willing to hire someone who has good soft skills like these.
Technologies and technical skills come and go; soft skills take time and experience to develop.