Like a lot of veterans, Andreae Pohlman joined the military right out of high school. The Air Force was her first job, her first on-the-job training — and it started her on a path that led to the career she has today at Microsoft.
Trained as a computer technician, Pohlman spent much of her enlistment as a systems administrator with the 721st Air Mobility Operations Group in Germany, maintaining the IT that tracks aircraft over the entire European theater.
Upon leaving the service, Pohlman decided to remain in the technology field. She tapped into her GI Bill benefits, which are available to all transitioning service members, and enrolled at George Washington University, where she majored in business administration with a concentration in information systems. She eventually went on to get a master’s degree.
During her time in school, she found another program that married her passion for technology with her passion for public service.
“I was searching for scholarships and got into a program called the George Washington CyberCorps program to study information security and cybersecurity,” she says. “This was perfect for what I was looking for and enhanced my professional skills even more.”
As part of the program, she received a scholarship toward her master’s course and was encouraged to find a public sector job. At the time, however, public service jobs were few and far between. That’s when she ran into Microsoft.
“I went to the university’s veterans outreach program and Microsoft had a huge presence,” she says. “I sent over my resume and from there was able to have the first interview, which led to the second, and so forth. It was just a wonderful experience and great opportunity.”
Through CyberCorps and her participation in collegiate cyberdefense competitions, Pohlman had become an expert in using Windows technologies to defend networks. Her knowledge of the company’s security technologies impressed Microsoft recruiters so much that it prompted a trip west — Pohlman was flown out for a series of interviews at Microsoft offices in Bellevue, Washington, and received an offer that same day.
She was hired through Microsoft Academy for College Hires, a structured onboarding program that brings new college grads to the company and teaches them the ins and outs of working in technology. “It was similar to my military experience, where they put you through so much training and structure to prepare you for success moving forward,” she says.
While Microsoft made an investment in the future, so did Pohlman. Building on the self-discipline and problem-solving skills that are ingrained in all service members, Pohlman made a personal commitment to education and training after the military.
“Once you get into that mindset in the military, it carries over into every job you’ll ever have,” she says. “I care about the mission, and I care about making every organization I’m a part of the best it can be, because that’s what I was taught in the military.”
Today Pohlman is a Microsoft Services consultant, traveling to various organizations and implementing solutions that solve specific business needs. At the same time, she participates in a number of diversity and inclusion efforts targeting women in the technology realm, as well as exploring her own growing veteran-community network.
Considering the military ethic of hard work and dedication to service, Pohlman sees a big return on the company’s investment in veterans.
“I feel like we still are serving our country through other shapes and forms,” she says. “I love to be able to serve our country in the cybersecurity space. I still have that passion to serve and protect what I can for our nation.”