Taking the road less traveled has become a pathway for Nick Nguyen’s professional success.
His unconventional journey began when as a high school senior, Nguyen told his parents he didn’t want “to pursue an academic path” like his siblings. Instead of enrolling in college, 17-year-old Nguyen enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps even though no one in his family had served in the Armed Forces.
“I wanted a challenge. I wanted to do something serving a different purpose, a greater purpose,” Nguyen said.
He served as a tactical network specialist and earned the rank of sergeant in four years. After the military, Nguyen returned home to Ohio and enrolled in college. Using his military benefits, he earned a bachelor’s degree in information technology with a minor in network administration.
“College was the formal training for what I did in the Marines,” Nguyen said. Next, he boldly moved to North Carolina without a job.
MetLife Recognized My Talents
Luckily, as Nguyen was moving south, MetLife was breaking ground on a 26.5-acre global technology campus in Cary, North Carolina, and looking to build a diverse, highly skilled workforce. In one of those in-the-right-place-at-the-right-time moments, Nguyen perfectly positioned himself to get his foot in the door at one of the world’s leading financial services companies. MetLife hired Nguyen as an entry-level software engineer with a college degree and no work experience.
“MetLife really supported me. They recognized my talents and were willing to coach me,” Nguyen told Hiring Our Heroes. “They kept offering me new opportunities and responsibilities every step of the way. They saw my potential.”
Eight years after joining MetLife, Nguyen now leads a team of engineers and technologists. And he pays it forward by coaching and mentoring others “to reach their full potential” at MetLife.
“At my heart, I’m a true leader, who is passionate about building technology that changes people’s lives for the better,” he said. Nguyen added that he attributes his professional success to working at MetLife, a company where managers provide the tools and support needed for long-term success.
Recently, MetLife joined efforts with Hiring Our Heroes to further promote and enhance its military hiring efforts in the company’s Global Technology and Operations (GTO) organization in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina.
MetLife Values Veterans
Nguyen volunteers with the MetLife Military Veterans Network (MVET). It is an employee-founded and employee-run resource group dedicated to promoting social responsibility, patriotism, and enhancing MetLife’s diverse environment. MVET coordinates activities with military organizations and veterans’ groups to build and maintain a welcoming culture for veterans in the civilian workplace.
“In a large company, it’s comforting to meet with people with a common history and bounce ideas off of each other,” Nguyen said.
For companies interested in hiring veterans and nurturing their potential, like MetLife, Nguyen encourages talent acquisition specialists and human resources team members to “look at a veteran in terms of what they can do” instead of evaluating the veteran solely on their work experience.
“Veterans want to be challenged, and they are quick to learn. They come to the table with integrity, a good work ethic, and other skills hard to find in a lot of people in the market for a job today. Just give veterans the opportunity to translate their military skills in your workplace. They will connect the dots,” Nguyen said. “And just do it. Hire a veteran, and do it frequently.”
“The key to my success has been a good support system. If you don’t have a support system, ask for help. If you reach out and build a network, great things will happen.”Nick Nguyen
If You Build a Network, Great Things Will Happen
For his fellow veterans looking for employment with a military-friendly company, Nguyen told them to turn to their support system for guidance.
“The key to my success has been a good support system,” he said. “If you don’t have a support system, ask for help. There are great people out there who are willing to lend their time and talents. If you reach out and build a network, great things will happen. I promise you.”