In our Veterans on a Mission series, we’ll highlight veterans who have put their service-learned skills to work – and have helped us become one of G.I. Jobs’ Top Military Friendly Employers.
Robert Adair is one of many veterans who found a home in AT&T after his service ended. Hear more about his experience:
What is your branch of service?
I was in the Army, stationed at Fort Rucker Alabama.
Current position at AT&T:
Manager – Network Services
Tell us a little about your military background:
I was stationed at Fort Rucker Alabama at Lowe Army Heliport. My job was to launch and recover 90–100 aircraft ranging from UH-1-TH-67s. We communicated with them on the radio and made sure they were maintaining the proper separation. My basic was at Fort Jackson South Carolina. I worked with Warrant officers all the way to two-star Generals.
When did you start at AT&T?
I first started with the company back in July of 2000. There were a lot of new people being hired at the time and it was crazy trying to learn as quickly as possible. It was one of the most stressful times in my life, and yet, the single most memorable time I’ve ever had. I immediately fell into a crowd of former military personnel that helped me deal with the struggles that come along with fitting into a new job. Since we were all in the same situation, it was a lot easier to handle because we all had the same mindset and similar senses of humor.
What skills did you bring with you from the military that help you in your current role?
The military taught me the ability to learn at a rapid pace. Knowing how to quickly adapt to ever-changing technologies has been very useful. A lot of the time, you have to think quickly to resolve issues that have not been solved yet. These things ensure that the job is never boring and that you never experience the same day twice. It was what kept the military exciting and what makes this career just as exciting.
Are there any similarities between the military and AT&T that helped your transition to the company?
When transitioning, one of the hardest things is finding those around you who understand the little things you do, such as waking up early, eating quickly, moving everywhere you go as quickly as possible, giving everything you have to a single goal, or even the way you speak. These habits are hard to break – they become ingrained in you.
AT&T helps by having a diverse mix of former, current, transitioning, and non-military employees. This support network gives you a place to vent the images of what you’ve seen with those who understand. Many people have never experienced the world in the way that the military offers: the different cultures, different branches hazing each other, and the sense of brotherhood that never dies. It’s a sense of pride that only a few will ever understand – and having those brothers and sisters in arms around you helps make it easier to fit in.
At the same time, AT&T also offers a chance learn to communicate with those who will never understand what you’ve been through and those relationships and skills are just as valuable.
How did you know what career was right for you after transitioning?
It took a lot of trial and error trying many different jobs and having them not work out. When I started with AT&T in July 2000, I instantly felt at home. The culture supported my ideals and I loved having the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with people that were equally as devoted to their craft as I was – just like those in the military were.
There is a pride in volunteering that allows you to devote everything to being all that you can and this career has felt that way to me, too. From the first day, I walked into pole climbing not knowing what to expect – to today, walking into a crew room every morning and addressing a room filled with technicians – I feel the same sense of pride I felt when I was enlisted. That’s the reason I know this is the right career for me. This is not just a place to pass the time, it’s a place I call home, surrounded by a family of like-minded individuals working toward a common goal to be all that we can be.
Do you think the culture at AT&T is similar to the military?
The military develops a sense of pride in what you do – regardless of what the task is. From doing dishes in the mess hall during basic training, to engaging a foreign enemy, everything is done with the goal of being the best you can be. It’s the same at AT&T– whether in a retail store or dealing directly with the largest business customers – they encourage and support employees to give their best.
Both AT&T and the military also have a lot of "trial by fire" moments, where you have to think and act quickly and essentially learn on the job. It is the easiest transition that I’ve ever made and have seen many others in the same situation easily acclimate to the culture. I’m surrounded by like-minded, devoted individuals who embrace a team environment to accomplish tasks readily.
Have you been able to network with other veterans to make your transition easier?
The company is filled with veterans, so networking is usually as simple as reaching out. I have had no issues in my first "tour" with the company or finding those individuals who share similar experiences.
Would you recommend AT&T as an employer to your military friends?
I have recommended AT&T to friends that are veterans multiple times – as a company to develop a career in that gives the same values and spirit that they had when they were enlisted. It is a place where what has been learned can be applied, and what is not known can be taught, with a worldwide level of various options for advancement and movement, just like the world they have left behind.
What advice would you give to veterans who are looking to make the transition into the civilian world?
When transitioning, the best advice I could give anyone is to be patient. You are not an alien, though many times it might feel that way. Be patient with those around you as you learn to acclimate into civilian life. Seek out those like you and mix in people that have no military background so you can get a full grasp of different cultures – just as you did when you enlisted. Think back and try and remember that first day off the bus and the instructors (DIs, Round Browns, Sergeants, etc.), and remember how many different cultures surrounded you. Use that memory to help you reach out to different people and you will see that there are many who are here to help. It will be much simpler than you think, just be patient.