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From Army Veteran to Systems Engineer

Doug Blair - FDM

Systems Engineer at BAML in Dallas, TX

Before the days of Google, Windows and Apple there was E. Douglas Blair. Today, Doug sits in his office at Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) as a Systems Engineer and reflects back on his journey to his dream career in IT.

When did you know that you wanted to pursue a career in IT?

When I was in high school I told my teacher that I wanted to be a computer engineer, but my family couldn’t afford for me to attend college. It was then that I decided to join the Army. My career counselor convinced me to go into the communications side because I had expressed a liking for computers however, his idea of communications and mine were completely different. I envisioned myself monitoring magnetic tapes or punch cards and ensuring the Army’s information was secure. I ended up working in the rain putting up 100 foot antennas and configuring radio equipment so battle leaders could call each other on telephones - nothing at all to do with computers.

What challenges did you face when looking for a job and how did FDM help to bridge that gap?

When you retire from the military in today’s world, the biggest challenge you face is the misunderstanding of expectations from both you and the employer. Everyone inside the military tells you that you are hyper-marketable because of your life skills and training. They don’t understand the needs of the civilian workforce nor do they understand the sheer numbers of available candidates that make up the workforce today. When entering the job market outside the military we need to be flexible.

Working with computer code seemed unattainable for a military retiree who could tell you how traffic is passed but couldn’t tell you what that traffic consisted of or why it existed. FDM gave me that opportunity to answer those questions and I am eternally grateful for it.

What was the most valuable thing you learned during training?

FDM’s training programme is completely different from military training so there is a period of “rewiring” that has to occur. The most valuable thing I learned was ITIL because we use it daily onsite at BAML. Also, it helps to understand why there is so much red tape involved in making security changes to the infrastructure.

What makes FDM a unique place to work?

It is the people that makes FDM. It’s the collective; students from all nations that have a desire to push through language barriers, cultural differences and learning deficits due to financial hardships or disability; the staff who are working to create relevant educational materials in an ever molding and melding business environment and to pass them along to students who sometimes need extra guidance than that of traditional students; the behind the scenes people who work with clients and find the job placements for the students. That is what makes FDM so great.

Describe your role and responsibilities onsite at BAML.

I am a Systems Engineer responsible for taking customer requests, dissect them and inputting that information which will later become a security patch or a new route within the construct of the BoA network. It is a very interesting change from what I am used to, although it is my dream job because I am continuously learning from senior engineers around me. I am living proof that you are never too old to learn something new.

What’s one of the most career-defining things you’ve learned from FDM?

This is my first position after the military which involves me having to learn new life skills. The military is a very structured environment where there is little room for error or failure. FDM helped me through that transition by exposing me to a diverse culture and it continues to help you succeed at any cost. They have become my new family who haven’t left my side.

Doug is proud of his military service and is honored to represent it with the FDM consultants who make up a diverse global community. Apply today and be one step closer to your dream career.

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