When Jose Lozano was in the Army, he had a community — and a purpose. But when he decided to retire after 21 years, his biggest concern was how to take those two things with him into the civilian world.
“When I was in the military, I was serving the higher cause,” said Lozano, 40. “I knew it wouldn’t be the same as a civilian, but I had this really wonderful thing in the Army and I wanted to keep some of it.”
Lozano is one of several transitioning service members who have participated in Operation Level Up, an intense 18-week program through Galvanize where active duty military learn to be software engineers. It’s a partnership with DoD SkillBridge and transition assistance programs within the military and it trains service members like Lozano as they prepare to transition out of service.
“We help them build the skills they need to get into lucrative careers in technology,” said Bill Blackstone, executive vice president of operations at Galvanize. “Underemployment is a big issue with transitioning service members, as is unhappy employment. We want to change that.”
And Galvanize is growing: Earlier this month, it announced a collaboration with the Veterans Administration to provide technical education to veterans so they can get better jobs — and if they don’t get hired, Galvanize will refund the cost of tuition back to the VA.
Blackstone said Galvanize’s track record of success strong, and he is confident in the abilities of graduates.
“Right now, we have 100% alignment,” he said. “Meaning, we don’t get paid unless they get a job in software engineering. It’s important for us to make this guarantee. Both the students and providers have work to do.”
Veterans are now eligible for programs through Galvanize, which are online and in person, and can use VA benefits to cover the $18,000 tuition. The only eligibility requirement is that the veteran has to have one day of unexpired GI Bill entitlement.
Galvanize has been providing software engineering and data science immersive training for years, including with the military. But the latest collaboration with the Veteran Employment through Technology Education Courses, or VET TEC, will help another military population find lucrative, productive work.
According to www.indeed.com, the median wage for software engineers is about $120,000 a year. And according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field is in high demand, with jobs expected to grow 25% from 2021-2031, faster than the average for other occupations.
Blackstone said Galvanize is proud to be a preferred partner for VET TEC. VET TEC is designed to provide money for non-traditional educational opportunities for veterans, training them for in-demand jobs in the tech field.
“We don’t just train them and kick them out,” Blackstone said. “We provide a path to career success as they transition out of the military.”
In the last fiscal year, about 200 service members received training and this year, Galvanize is on track to provide training to about 300, Blackstone said.
Lozano, of Killeen, Texas, said his software engineering job at JPMorgan Chase & Co. gives him a chance to work as a problem solver and provides for his family. He said his military experience gave him leadership skills and a plan on how to transition out of being a soldier and into being a civilian.
“The Army was my life,” he said. “When I left, I didn’t have a plan. But I was lucky to find this program, it really helped me find work I like.”