Mary, who lives in the D.C. area with her husband, says “Even if I wasn’t hired by Microsoft, I would still take MSSA again because the things I learned were invaluable.”
Mary McCready always knew she had the inner strength to face a challenge. Growing up she had a drive to achieve her goals despite poor odds or opposition. That toughness led her to enlist in the Marines when she graduated from high school, even though her father was concerned about how far the demands would push her.
McCready figured her natural leadership traits would serve her well in boot camp. She quickly learned from her drill instructor, however, that individual success hinged on the ability to coalesce as a single, disciplined, unit—one that worked together to do what needed to be done, regardless of personal preference or consequence.
Before she graduated from MSSA, Mary McCready was a platoon sergeant in the Marines.
With those foundational lessons solidly in place, McCready’s leadership skills soon began playing a more important role, as she was transferred to Camp Pendleton, California, and then deployed to Afghanistan as an analyst in 2012, and again in 2014. Those command strengths helped propel her to the role of platoon sergeant by the time of her second tour.
Back stateside, her battalion was reorganized, opening the window for her to plan the next phase of life. But McCready wasn’t done serving in the military. Even as she began transitioning to civilian life, she also contacted a Marine Corps Reserve unit a full year in advance to be certain of having a place to serve when she moved to Washington, D.C., with her husband.
As she considered the choice of what career to pursue upon the end of her active military duty, she did so through the lens of another lesson her service had ingrained in her: the importance of situational awareness in decision-making. In the case of charting a career path, this meant carefully weighing all of her options.
While attending the Marine Transition Readiness Seminar, she heard about Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA), an intensive, 18-week course that helps active duty U.S. service members gain the technical skills needed to work in the tech industry.
This instantly jumped out to McCready among her various career opportunities. “My family’s background in computers is pretty extensive. Everyone is self-taught, and my dad and all of my uncles work in IT, so I guess you could say it’s part of my DNA. But for whatever reason I never thought I’d pursue it, that I would be a journalist or something else instead.”