My Most Memorable Hire: The Afghanistan Soldier Turned Computer Engineer

October 14, 2014

Military men and women put themselves in harm’s way every day in service to our country, and when they come home they need the personal and corporate support of our businesses to smooth their entry into the workplace.

“I’ve always got my antenna out for promising candidates who’ve done service in the military and have the talent and skills for our technical jobs,” says Bill Coder, recruiting manager for LGS Innovations, a company that offers advanced telecommunications and networking solutions in the US.

As Coder discovered when he hired his first returning soldier, veterans have many qualities that make them effective members of the workforce. Coder found Tyler Weaver, who was serving in Afghanistan with the 3rd Special Forces Group of the U.S. Army, while searching to fill a junior-level engineer position.

“Tyler’s profile stood out immediately – he had a 4.0 GPA,” Coder recalls. “He was also a local from Colorado, where the position was located, so the match made sense.” Weaver, he discovered, was finishing up his college degree at DeVry University, and was paving the way for a job search once he finished his stint in the military and completed his degree.

On the hunt for a job 7,000 miles from home

About 7,000 miles away from Coder’s office in Denver, Weaver was logging 12 hours a day in front of a computer screen in Afghanistan as part of his service. “I knew I wanted to write software when I got home,” says Weaver.

Knowing that his tour would come to an end, Weaver took steps toward the software engineering career he envisioned for himself, monitoring job boards and companies he was interested in. When he got a message about careers at LGS Innovations from Coder, Weaver’s interest was piqued – and the recruiter and the soldier started keeping touch online.

“Even while Tyler was on the ground in Afghanistan, I was impressed that he was so interested in talking about his career plans,” Coder says. When an entry-level engineer position opened up, Coder and Weaver could finally put the hiring wheels in motion. “We got Tyler in here for an interview and he wowed everyone he met,” recalls Coder.

And Weaver liked LGS right back. “When I met everyone at LGS, I knew it was an environment with really smart people, where I’d learn a lot,” he says. “I’d had an interview with another software company a few days before, but it felt like three hours of ‘stump the chump,’ where they quizzed me to see whether they could trip me up.” LGS, on the other hand, extended a warmer welcome – and Weaver accepted his job offer as a junior software engineer on the spot.

“Tyler rocks – he’s just starting his engineering career, but in very little time he’s come up to speed,” says Greg Gerou, technical manager at LGS and Weaver’s manager. “That’s exceptional for someone just out of school – and no doubt due to Tyler’s military career as well as his engineering talent. I’m very excited about all of the important contributions that Tyler will be making, and about what I can do to help him develop his career.”

Weaver’s early success is a lesson for any recruiter wondering how to bring in talent that will quickly pay off for a business, Coder says. “A lot of resumes from college graduates look the same, but that military experience can matter as much as a college degree,” he says. “The skills and commitment people like Tyler bring to the front lines are an asset everywhere they go.”

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* Image by The U.S. Army