As my 4 years in the U.S. Army came to an end, my Expiration - Term of Service date was approaching extremely fast. As most veterans know, when you're approaching this, most people in your chain of command tell you that if you don't continue in the military, your life will fall apart and you will either end up being homeless or as a bus driver (no offense to bus drivers out there!)
When this date approached I was fortunate enough to be part of a great transitioning team, they were just rebranding to the "Soldier for Life" motto. But thanks to them, my eyes were opened about all the different routes I could take to become what I always wanted to be but always seemed far out of reach because of my lack of resources: a Software Engineer.
The doors that the G.I. Bill can open for you are endless, and it is sad to know that most of the transitioning veterans are not aware of them. Not only is the V.A. going to pay for your school, but also your housing, your medical insurance, and your books. They recommended me to start in a community college and then transition to a university from there.
In January 2016 I started my A.A. degree, the requirements to transition to the University of Florida were mostly math and physics requirements but thankfully I was able to learn in the environment that the Veteran's Success Center had in Santa Fe College, they provide tutors and they also recommended me to switch to Chapter 31, since I am a 50% disabled veteran. Here is my obtaining my A.A. with my lovely girlfriend:
Long story short, I was accepted into the University of Florida, where I will graduate with a degree in Computer Science. Besides all the coding, engineering, logical and analytical skills I have acquired in school, what I am most grateful for, is that my skills as a former soldier opened the doors to a lot of opportunities that I see my classmates miss out on for their lack of experience or discipline. When they mostly pass incredibly hard coding interviews in top companies around the country, they miss out on the opportunities because they fail the ability to be able to build rapport in the behavioral side of the interviews and leave a lasting impression.
I am happy and proud to announce, that even though I am already 28 years old, I have decided from several offers, to officially become a Software Engineer, where I'll be in this company's Engineering Leadership Development Program, where I will be able to obtain my Master's Degree absolutely free.
I wish I could motivate existing soldiers, veterans and all kinds of people, to never give up on your dreams, there are always paths to get there, no matter how difficult your path may seem, even if it's O( n^2 ) time complexity.
Never stop learning, go beyond school and in your free time, read books and take tutorials or extra classes and certification where you will be more valuable. When facing interviewers, never forget where you come from, be yourself, and remind yourself why you want and need that job, the combination of those things will give you the confidence needed to get that job you dreamed of! (Don't forget to answer any question in the STAR format!!)
Stay active, eat healthy foods, and you'll be a better developer, I promise.