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How my time in the Air Force prepared me for life at Google

November 11th, 2019

In 1996, I was a young senior airman at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska. We were controlling an air training mission and had just safely led fighter jets to the training airspace. But in a split second, we got a radio call from a pilot telling us one of his engines went out. Just like that, we had to snap into action and help the plane land safely. I still get goosebumps thinking about that night of the engine outage, but taking action in that scary moment prepared me for life outside of the military.

Carla McIntosh's training certificate

When I first left the Air Force, I initially struggled to explain how my military experience mattered outside the aerospace field. But I realized a lot of employers value the skills I had quickly coordinating and processing information under intense pressure. In my role as a staffing leader at Google, though the stakes are certainly much different, I can collaborate with people, quickly share critical information and pivot to different tasks.

This Veterans Day, it’s so exciting to see Google sharing stories about veterans who’ve transitioned into tech, gained civilian skills and even started their own businesses. To bring more visibility to their experiences, we partnered with U.S. Army veteran guest artist Pete Damon on today’s Google Doodle and are sharing profiles of veterans (myself included) who are finding new opportunities by combining their military experience with new tech skills. And teams across the company are celebrating their veteran colleagues’ contributions to the products that people use every day around the world. Telling our stories helps future employers see our value, and honors the sacrifices so many have made for this country. If just one service member is inspired or finds the courage to dream of a life beyond the uniform, then I’ve done my job.

Pete Damon poses with his Google Doodle artwork
Retired U.S. Army Sergeant Pete Damon, alongside the Veterans Day 2019 Doodle he created.

Since joining Google in 2015, I’ve been a part of our VetNet employee resource group, which is a community of veterans, spouses, and our allies. VetNet members provide ongoing support for just about everything. For example, many VetNetters refer other veterans to Google, serve as buddies to those newly hired and help support those who are currently transitioning to corporate civilian life.

Tips on transitioning to the civilian workforce

I’m really proud of Google’s commitment to helping veterans through VetNet, Grow with Google, Google for Startups and Search tools to help veterans find jobs or start businesses. It’s an exciting time to see veterans entering the civilian workforce, and we’re working hard to help to make that transition much smoother.

When I look back at the final months of my Air Force career, I remember how nervous I was, and how I didn’t know where to start. Hopefully, today’s veterans won’t have to go through that fear. They now have key resources and allies who are working hard every day to help them.