One of the amazing things that my mentors did for me as I transitioned was to talk about the lessons they learned during their transition. Some of my Mentors went straight to work after completing their military careers while others journeyed back to school, and some did both. They talked about going all in adjusting to a different pace of life while course correcting when necessary. The ability to make corrections along the way to self-assess is something we all benefited from in the military. On a high performing team, you might not have the time to answer all your questions and address all your doubts. You must act. While you are taking action, you self-assess categorizing your strengths and what you bring to the table. You also look at your weaknesses deciding if they will be harmful to the mission or are they something you can manage as you zero in on your goals. Make a decision then make that decision right. Learning from the transition stories of others helped me to see beyond the immediate obstacles. I saw that as they transitioned they made a decision then, they put everything on the table to make that decision the right decision.
This knowledge empowered me during my MSSA journey. I had made a decision. Now I had to do the work to make this decision right. Many transitioning service members forget that they are empowered to endure to the very end. Transitioning well might mean getting so focused that you choose to stop watching television. It might mean twelve-hour study sessions on Saturdays. It might mean waking up at two-thirty every day, so you have an hour to study before reporting for duty. Are you committed to self-assessing and finding the gaps in your preparation? Self-assessment, every step of the way, allowed me to fill in one of the critical gaps in my transitions approach.
I knew that there was an aspect of competition to secure my a role with Microsoft. My self-assessment showed me that if we all trained the same and we all had access to the same tools, uniformity would once again make finding the right candidate a needle in a haystack for Microsoft. During my self-assessment, one question that kept reoccurring was How was I going to present my best self each time and gain some advantages along the way?
One thing that many overlook when choosing to pursue a specific career is a cultural fit. I knew that I would have to dive deep into tech culture learning what it would be like to work at a software company. To that end, I did as many informational interviews as my schedule permitted. I met women and men at Microsoft’s who showcased the company culture and embodied the company values. I was excited to see the similarities, and I was challenged to overcome some of the differences. As I worked to adapt to tech culture, it deepened my resolve that Microsoft was the right fit for me and the MSSA was the conduit to get there.
During my guaranteed interview what resonated deeply with many of my interviewers was that I showcased not only the company values but the company culture. My research, self-study, and determination showcased that not only was I able to do the work but I would work to excel at each task. At the end of 2013, Microsoft was a company in transition and with that came amazing new opportunities to be a part of a culture that was shifting to a growth mindset. This theme of having a growth mindset was a major discovery as I prepared. The military has many storied traditions, but we produce the best of the best through good strategies, consistent input from others, and hard work. I had spent six years practicing what Microsoft was transitioning to, and I knew from first-hand experience that I would be an asset to that culture.