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Career Changers
The No. 1 Thing Veterans Should Look for When Changing Careers
Photo courtesy of Perspecta
Fairygodboss
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Making a drastic change in career paths isn’t easy for anyone. But when you’ve spent years working for the military and are preparing to enter the civilian workforce for perhaps the first time, navigating this transition comes with its own unique set of challenges. 

Sonya Phyall, an intelligence analyst in the United States National Guard, believes it’s important for veterans on the job hunt to look for one specific quality in potential employers: a demonstrated track record of hiring other veterans. Phyall found that at Perspecta. 

As Phyall was preparing to transition into the civilian workforce, someone from her unit recommended that she look into opportunities at Perspecta, government services provider where a full 20% of workers are former military personnel. Today, as a classification management analyst at Perspecta, she says it isn’t just the nature of her role — overseeing the classification of documents and safeguarding our nation’s secrets — that reminds her of her time in the military. It’s the overall culture, as well that makes her confident in her choice with this next step of her career. 


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“The positive thing about having so many people with prior service is that the same military culture kind of carries over here to Perspecta,” Phyall said.

Michelle Clays, senior program director at Perspecta and a United States Air Force veteran with 30 years of service, echoed this. 

“Perspecta has the same core values that we had when I was in the military: respect, accountability, empowerment, integrity and success,” Clays, whose father was also in the military, said. “We have amazing talent joining the team who have the same skill set, dedication to service and technical skills that we really need to fight in this cybersecurity domain.” 

Although Clays initially found it incredibly difficult to leave the Air Force: “I just wanted to continue serving as long as I could,” she said. At Perspecta, she sees a strong connection between the service of her past and the goals of her present.

“A lot of the folks that we hire are former military veterans who have the cybersecurity skills — (they’re) cyber defense operators, intelligence analysts and cyber planners — that help the command defend Army networks and also defend Army weapon systems,” she said. “We support the intelligence community, and we also support the veterans administration, the Department of Homeland Security and other parts of the government in the public sector.” 

Considering the overlap in culture, mission and values, it perhaps isn’t so surprising that moving from the military to Perspecta is such a smooth career transition for so many. And the company doesn’t stop short at recruiting veterans alone, either. By partnering with organizations like Operation Impact and Wounded Warriors, Perspecta makes a point of recruiting wounded veterans and veterans with disabilities, as well as military spouses and surviving spouses.

“I would encourage any military person to look into the opportunities that Perspecta has to offer, if you’re looking for a long-term place,” Phyall said. “Perspecta is definitely the place you need to be.”

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