MSSA training turns Army retiree into Microsoft dream-job newb

Travis Myers went from the U.S. Army Special Forces to a career on the IT team at Microsoft by way of Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA).

Travis Myers went from the U.S. Army Special Forces to a career on the IT team at Microsoft by way of Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA).

Microsoft’s vast workforce of programmers and engineers relies on the company’s IT infrastructure to create the software and services of the future. When something goes wrong, the Microsoft IT team is under tremendous pressure to quickly solve problems and get systems back up to optimum performance. Travis Myers, a recent graduate of Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA), is in the thick of it — and he couldn’t be happier.

After more than 20 years in the Army, Myers was startled to be called a “newb” during his first week at Microsoft.

After more than 20 years in the Army, Myers was startled to be called a “newb” during his first week at Microsoft.

Myers completed MSSA training in May at Joint Base Lewis-McChord as part of his preparation for retiring from the U.S. Army Special Forces and transitioning to a civilian career in technology. MSSA is a technology skills training program for military service members with a scheduled separation date. In an interview shortly before the graduation ceremony, Myers said he was looking forward to his “second dream job.” And he’s found it, thanks to technical training and mentorship provided by the program.

“In my role, not only do I get to do something that I know is going to be a long-term career, which is fun, I also get to expand,” Myers says. “There are new technologies on the horizon that apply directly to my role and I want to be a part of those new technologies as we create them and build them right here at Microsoft. That’s exciting to me. That’s the fun part.”

Myers says MSSA not only taught him technical skills required in his new position, it enabled him to interview with confidence and use a white board to manage a technical discussion. Perhaps most important, it gave him the opportunity to find a company where his colleagues are just as passionate about technology as he is.

MSSA helped Myers go from building apps in his spare time to being an integral part of Microsoft’s network access and security management.

MSSA helped Myers go from building apps in his spare time to being an integral part of Microsoft’s network access and security management.

“One of the biggest things that helped out with the interview process was learning to express yourself in terms that make sense to a manager who’s looking to relate your passion with what they’re looking for,” Myers says. “All of us who interviewed met people who were looking for someone who was excited about their platform, excited about the technology. It didn’t matter who you were, what your background was; if you were excited about mobile applications and security and Microsoft platforms, like I was, then they were looking for you.”

Since August, Myers has been learning both his new duties and his workplace culture. He’s mastered the software that helps him coordinate his projects and his calendar, learned where to go on campus to do everything from eating lunch to updating his insurance coverage, and made great progress in learning all the abbreviations and acronyms that are part of the Microsoft language. After more than 20 years in the Army, he was startled to be called a “newb” during his first week. But it was just good-natured teasing, he says, from colleagues who are more likely to bend over backward to help.

After more than 20 years in the Army, Myers was startled to be called a “newb” during his first week at Microsoft.

After more than 20 years in the Army, Myers was startled to be called a “newb” during his first week at Microsoft.

“People here are resourceful,” Myers says. “It’s expected that you’re just going to have to figure things out a bit by yourself, but you can go from office to office and everyone’s going to literally invite you in to sit down and tell you everything that they know. It’s awesome. People who don’t even know you yet and aren’t on your team say come on over, I’ll help you.”

As he settles into his new career, Myers encourages other service members to follow in his footsteps if they’re preparing to transition to civilian life. MSSA has helped him go from building apps in his spare time to being an integral part of the company’s network access and security management, and he’s confident it can help others achieve their goals too.

“Go for what you love,” Myers says. “Find out what you want to do in life; that was my No. 1 challenge. This is what I’m excited about and this is what I want to do for a living. Sooner or later you’re going to find somebody who needs you to do what you want to do. I am literally getting to do my hobby for a living.”

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