HomeNewsArticle Display

Fries to cybersecurity: Military gave Airman a new field

U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. William, a flight commander at the 118th Wing, Tennessee Air National Guard, poses for a photo on January 13, 2019 at Berry Field Air National Guard base.

U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. William, a flight commander at the 118th Wing, Tennessee Air National Guard, poses for a photo on January 13, 2019 at Berry Field Air National Guard base. William used the education and opportunities provided by the Guard to spark a career change from the fast food industry to the cybersecurity field. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Anthony Agosti)

Nashville, Tenn. --  For people who need a career change, the military is often a great choice for finding that new calling.

One Airman proved this concept to the fullest, using the Air National Guard as a springboard to leave the fast food industry and join the growing field of cybersecurity. 

"I had been an assistant manager for a number of years at a [fast food] drive-in,” said 2nd Lt. William, a flight commander at the 118th Wing of the Tennessee Air National Guard. "I realized that working in the food industry wasn’t really my calling. It didn’t give me a sense of purpose that being a part of an organization like the military could give you.”

The opportunity to advance his education in the military was a bonus to joining, said William, whose last name is being withheld for security reasons. He began looking at which branches to join, and soon received some guidance from someone inside the ANG.

"His parents said he was thinking about joining the Navy, and I was prior Navy,” said Master Sgt. Timothy Peck, a loadmaster instructor and flight safety NCO for the 164th Airlift Wing. "I told him come out to the Guard with me, I’ll show you around and introduce you to the recruiters. I basically talked him out of joining the active duty Navy.”

Peck convinced William to try to enlist as a loadmaster. However, when William spoke with the recruiter, he was given a very different opportunity.

"They had a bunch of loadmasters as they had got rid of some aircraft, so they were well over capacity,” said William. "[The recruiter] asked if I was interested in intelligence because there was a brand new [mission] standing up in Nashville.”

He decided to join the new mission set and became one of the first 15 people to join the new unit. Not long after joining the unit, he picked up activation orders supporting Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom and gained some very sought-after career experience. 

"Shortly after coming back, I was able to get recruited into a position as a contractor overseas,” said William. "There is where I got my hands into the cybersecurity field.”

While working as a government contractor in Afghanistan, he completed his bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership and management, and also several cybersecurity certifications, said William. He completed a few more certifications when he returned to the U.S., which in turn opened even more doors for him.

"Within a week after getting the certifications I had recruiters calling me about positions,” William said. "That eventually led into a full-time position with FedEx, which is where I am currently working as a senior cybersecurity analyst.”

The jobs in the cybersecurity field are lucrative, especially if you are willing to travel, said William. Many of the jobs offer six-figure salaries. 

William is very happy with his current role in the civilian world, but realizes it might not have worked out had it not been for the chances provided by military.

"The Guard not only gives you opportunities, but can provide you the education and launchpad to get the experience needed to get your foot in the door for a lot of these jobs in the civilian market,” William said. "Without the military training that I received and the experience I picked up on orders, none of this would have panned out for me.”

When looking back on his journey, William is pretty amazed on how things have changed in the decade since his days of working in fast food.

"Honestly, if you had asked me 10 years ago, right before I enlisted, where I thought I would see myself [today] this was not it at all,” said William. "All I knew at that time was I didn’t want to work in food service. The education and opportunities that opened up along the way helped to guide a lot of my decisions.”

"I think he could be a good inspiration for the new recruits to hear his testimony,” said Master Sgt. Kendall, a member of the 118th Wing who worked closely with William for many years. "It just shows them that hard work and dedication can build you to be good supervisor material, and to be someone to be looked up to.”

USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.