‘Career Forward Helped Me Change Careers’: Training Program Provides Path to Career Fulfillment for Underemployed Military Spouse

Air Force family visits Hollywood Studios in Florida
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Hiring Our Heroes

Nearly two-thirds of new jobs created in the last decade require high- or medium-level digital skills. Yet, one in three U.S. workers have limited or no digital skills. To help military job seekers learn job-ready skills like data analytics, Hiring Our Heroes launched Career Forward with support from Google.org.

More than 2,200 veterans, military spouses, and active-duty service members are on the path to completing a Google Career Certificate through Career Forward. These learners are working to improve their current employment situation. This may be a salary increase, a promotion, or a new career path with more flexible or portable work options.

Career Forward participants may apply for a paid fellowship with a military-friendly employer after completing a certificate. Additionally, completers receive access to more than 400 employers in the Hiring Our Heroes network and the Google Career Certificates Employer Consortium should they choose to forgo a fellowship opportunity and apply directly for a job position.

This month, Hiring Our Heroes shares how Career Forward graduate Shyane Maestre secured a remote position with a competitive salary after taking the Google’s Data Analytics Certificate to launch a new career. Maestre explains the positive financial impact of her career change and how Career Forward changed her life.

Name: Shyane Maestre

Status: U.S. Air Force military spouse

Location: Norfolk, Virginia

Job Title: Data Analyst

Employer: General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT)

Why did you enroll in Career Forward? You know what they say about “once you’re in the General Schedule (GS) system, it’s easier to find a job.” [The General Schedule (GS) is a pay system civilian employees in the federal government.]

I didn’t find that to be the case for me.

We had recently moved from North Carolina to Virginia, and I had to take a pay cut to stay as a government employee. Then, I was able to move up a grade, but I still wasn’t making hardly anything. On the days I had to be in the office, I was driving 45 minutes. The position was too easy for me. I wanted a challenge.

After talking with my family, weighing the pros and cons, and researching the Google Career Certificates, I took a leap of faith. I quit my government job.

Google Data Analytics Certificate

How did you select the Google Data Analytics Certificate? My background is medical coding and billing. I have a bachelor’s degree in Health and Medical Administrative Services. I thought data analysis wasn’t my thing until I looked more into it.

Data is everywhere. Data analysis is the new way of the world. You can do so much with the data analytics certificate.

Data is everywhere. Data analysis is the new way of the world. You can do so much with the data analytics certificate.

Shyane Maestre, Career Forward Completer and U.S. Air Force spouse

How did Career Forward help you move forward in your professional goals? Hiring Our Heroes helped me build confidence to take charge of my career.

The Career Forward team gives you a lot of advice. I took all of it. They helped me understand how connections, especially connections on LinkedIn, are important. They said, “don’t close the door on anything.” That advice opened my mind to look for connections.

They helped me revamp my resume and helped me with interviews. They helped me with salary negotiations.

Did you negotiate your salary for your current role? I did, even though I was terrified. I had never done that before. I kept thinking, ‘I’m brand new to data analysis, but I can do this.’ And I got it!

Related: ‘Who Is Going to Join Me?’ Spouse of Former Chief of Space Operations Encourages Enrollment in Career Forward

What do you enjoy about your new job as a data analyst with GDIT? I wanted something challenging, and I got that with GDIT. With this job, I get to work with SQL queries, tableau and data sourcing. I get to help people with their data.

And it’s 100% remote, which is what I wanted (when I started Career Forward).

What has been your biggest challenge as a military spouse in the workforce? Underemployment.

When we were in Alaska for four years, I worked my way up to a very decent salary. When we moved, that all went away. I was taking a $10 to $15 per hour pay cut just so I could keep working when we moved. And I was starting at the bottom, again. That was devastating.

Did underemployment at your former employer lead you to explore Career Forward?

I thought about Career Forward for a long time before signing up for it. I asked a lot of questions and did a lot of research. My family saved money and was prepared to live off the stipend during the fellowship. Before I gave up my government job, I learned the ins and outs of the Career Forward Fellowship Program.

When I discussed the opportunity with my husband, he said, “Go for it! This is going to change your life.”

Google Career Certificates can help you level up your career for free.

How have Career Forward and Hiring Our Heroes impacted your family’s financial well-being? It has helped tremendously. We don’t have to live paycheck to paycheck. We’re able to save and improve our financial outlook. Now, we’re saving to buy a house when my husband retires from the Air Force.

What’s the impact of working remotely? It’s amazing. I don’t have to spend time driving to the office, and I don’t have to spend money on gas.

The people at Hiring Our Heroes told me to write down what I needed in my new career, and at the top of my list was a 100% remote position. I was sick of job hopping or having to leave a company. I want to find a remote role at a company I want to stay with. With Career Forward, I took a chance, and it worked.

‘Trust Me’: Career Forward Works

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers? The Career Forward program helped me change careers and do something I never would have thought of doing before this program.

The workshops through the Career Forward Fellowship Program are amazing. Everyone should be taking the HOH program managers’ advice. Trust me, it works.

Are you ready to learn job-ready skills and start a new career in less than six months? The Career Forward Fellowship Program helps military families stay competitive in today’s workforce. Find out more about Google Career Certificates and how Career Forward, with support from Google.org, helps to provide career paths for service members and their families.

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