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Keohn Akins: A SkillBridge Experience

Keohn Akins
,
April 27, 2022

Automate or be Automated

In the military I was the civilian equivalent of a network engineer. Early in my career I fell in love with the endless opportunities that working in tech could provide, and I set out to ensure I'd be able to get out of the military and begin working in that field. 

It had always been my plan to serve one term and move on to civilian life, but as I began looking into potential jobs as a network engineer, things got bleak. Due to the technological advancements in the private sector, a majority of my job duties were being automated. Although that kind of technology hadn't made its way to the military yet, I knew that I would have to pivot if I wanted to land a good job. 

I initially went to school for network operations and studied for a lot of certifications, and throughout that process, I learned about the SkillBridge program and how it could give me the experience and confidence necessary to make the full leap into the private sector. Although I had been working on networks for the past 5 years, at the time I was making my SKB (SkillBridge) decision, I knew I needed to branch out. 

After realizing it was either automate or be automated, I began doing research on how I could get ahead of the curve… and my answer? The cloud. 

A New Home to Learn

If it's new technology and it optimizes your work, it probably made its way to your awareness because of the cloud. Everyday there's something new to learn, and overcoming the challenges associated with pushing the bounds of innovation is rewarding (being skilled in a career field where you can almost always work from home isn't too bad either). 

That same love I felt for tech when I first joined the military was reborn, and this time it was even bigger. Having spent long days and long nights researching multiple jobs and what they entail, I settled on wanting to be a DevOps engineer and got to work on finding my new home. 

The process of finding a company that utilized the cloud and was in an industry I wanted to work in was grueling at first so I thought I'd never find something, and that's when I came across Second Front Systems (2F). Not only were there clear positions open and labeled for SKB on their site, but they also had a mission and a vision dedicated to eradicating some of the same issues I experienced during my time in the service. It was an instant no-brainer for me to choose a company where I could both learn the necessary skills to set myself up for success while at the same time being a part of a bigger project to ensure our military is equipped with innovative solutions that can save lives, freedom, and democracy all over the world.

Transition with Care

Since joining 2F as an intern, I've learned an abundance of skills on the road to becoming the DevSecOps engineer I am today such as: AWS, Terraform, GitLab, Python, agile methodologies, and more. On a daily basis I get a chance to do what I love to do best, LEARN! 

One of my most proud moments was being tasked with the implementation of software that allows us to scan customer applications and remove components that make it susceptible to hacking, data loss, and more undesirables. 

The experience was nothing short of amazing, and I genuinely don't think I could have chosen a better company to make my civilian transition with. The culture at 2F breeds support, understanding, compassion, and unity that can be felt in my day to day work from events like a virtual happy hour to talk and decompress after a work day all the way through high priority engineering discussions.

Due to my time at 2F, not only has my life changed professionally, but I've been able to take a lot of lessons I've learned through work and apply them to my daily life. Who knew you could upgrade your life using the same processes tech companies use to push software updates? 

Not only am I a better engineer, but I feel like I'm a better person and I implore any other military members approaching their date of separation to search for a company that proves they care.

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