If you’re a veteran and would like to work in Silicon Valley, BreakLine is for you. The application process is tough, but it’s undoubtedly worth your time. The tech industry is known for its eclectic mixture of personality, competence, and productivity. While some financial institutions like Goldman Sachs and Bank of America have established robust and efficient transition jobs programs, Silicon Valley has remained an enigma for many would-be veteran applicants. Personally, the prospect to work at a major tech firm is very appealing and exciting.
BreakLine is a four-week program in Silicon Valley. It’s an educational and networking experience with the goal to get veterans good jobs in the tech industry at relatively senior levels. It’s an “immersive, targeted approach to transition“. The classroom learning takes place at the partner organizations. BreakLine’s partners are impressive and include Andreeson Horowitz (fabled venture capital firm), Box, PayPal, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, LifeLock, Salesforce, Zillow, and Uber.
I spoke with BreakLine’s Founder and CEO, Bethany Coates. Bethany’s relationship with veterans took a flight that inevitably led to BreakLine when a Navy SEAL approached Stanford and requested a program that became Stanford Ignite – Post 9/11 Veterans. She told me that her time working with Veterans at Ignite as the Assistant Dean of Global Innovation Programs at Stanford University she saw and felt the raw talent and ability that is untapped in the marketplace. The point of BreakLine is not only to provide elite and useful education but to help Veterans find great jobs that put them on a path to leadership in the business world. She told me, sincerely, that it is and has been her honor to work and help veterans succeed. She believes veterans in leadership positions in business is better for the American economy.
But BreakLine and Bethany have high expectations from anyone who passed their selection process. They’re looking for someone who can drink from a fire hose and lives life at a fast pace. This program is for high potentials. They aren’t as concerned with a blue chip background, either. Instead, the substance of one’s work and your potential is what matters. You aren’t going to emerge writing code or transform yourself into the popularized version of tech entrepreneurs. The Valley needs your management, operations, and leadership abilities.
Three things that BreakLine staff has observed are holding back Veterans are:
Skills – hard skills used in the private sector.
Communication – your ability to articulate your past and make an employer understand why you fill an open position.
Professional Network – cultivating mentorships and a network outside of the military.
While this program is not exclusively for Special Operators, I feel comfortable saying this might be uniquely suited for ex-SOF. But, there are no special places, there are special people, and the application pool is filled with high performers. There is a unifying shortcoming that Bethany mentioned to me that all veterans, including SOF, display. We’re too modest and uncomfortable singing our praises. It’s a sorry dog that won’t wag his tail. If you don’t toot your own horn, someone will come along and piss in it.
This program is already helping veterans and have placed participants in excellent jobs. One veteran is in a managerial position at PayPal. They’ve also been able to help veterans find work at Box and Medallia. These are all great, sought after companies and it’s still in its very early stages. They’re now accepting applications for their next cohort and if it’s something you find interesting, why not apply.
Featured image courtesy of www.breakline.org.
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