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Tech industry offers life after service for veterans in Kansas City

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Posted at 6:33 PM, Nov 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-11 19:33:38-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Employers across the Kansas City area posted about 4,900 job openings in the month of October.

To fill those positions, many companies are turning toward veterans. Several employers have programs designed to give veterans internships and support them once they’re on staff.

“The military is always on the cutting edge of technology, so there is always a talent pool there,” said Jason Vigh, a Navy veteran who now works as a cybersecurity consultant at 1898 & Co, a part of Burns & McDonnell.

The Kansas City-based engineering firm is part of a nationwide program called “Hiring our Heroes.”

It partners veterans with employers. Veterans get a 12-week fellowship with an employer. More often than not, the employer hires the veteran by the end of the fellowship.

“Within the last couple of years, we've had 100% success rate. So it’s been great,” said Mike Goodnow, a senior recruiter at Burns & McDonnell.

Goodnow says skills veterans learn in the military transition well to the civilian workforce.

“Good work ethic, good communicators, punctuality, a team attitude,” Goodnow listed a series of characteristics.

Theresa Bentch can think of a few more qualities to add to the list.

“Leadership, the ability to stay calm, cool and collected during a crisis event," Bentch said. "Organizational skills, technical skills."

Bentch is a major in the Army Reserves and the director of physical security at Garmin’s Olathe, Kansas, headquarters.

She said support systems within the workplace make the transition even smoother.

Garmin has a program called Garmin Prior Service Veterans (GPSVets) to support veterans throughout the company. It also launched a program this year to hire military spouses.

“They do have that can-do attitude and that servant-leader attitude that our founders have always described at Garmin,” said Jennifer Pozzuolo, the human resources manager at Garmin.

The KC Tech Council advocates for the technology industry in Kansas City. It covers cybersecurity, software development, data storage, and so much more.

It launched a program called “KC Apprenti” to help people, not just veterans, pivot careers to land in tech.

Participants get a year-long apprenticeship with an employer. At the end of the apprenticeship, the employer has the chance to hire the participant. Leaders say the program has been successful.

“We see it as not only an opportunity to grow talent internally in Kansas City, but also attract talent to the market,” said Erin Christensen, KC Tech Council’s chief operating officer.

For more information on the KC Apprenti Program, visit the council’s website. Both Garmin and Burns & McDonnell are hiring.