Office Hours Hangout with RackVET: Translating Military Service to Customer Service

A few weeks ago, Racker Matt Graham approached me with the idea of featuring the RackVET Employee Resource Group on our weekly Office Hours Hangout. He wanted to showcase the many veterans we have working here at Rackspace, and talk about how military service prepares Rackers to support our customers and fellow Rackers.

Last week, we held that hangout, with Matt and two other Racker veterans, John Coldwater and James Green. I asked Matt to share some of what he thought were the highlights of our conversation. Check out Matt’s highlights, in his own words, below, with direct links to the relevant point in our conversation. Additionally, you can view the entire show, or listen to an audio-only podcast version. 

Though we have different military backgrounds, all three of us on the panel have one thing in common: we all made a transition from military service to civilian employment. I think the biggest takeaways from our hangout revolve around what a service member can do to help him or herself prepare for transitioning, and during their actual transition from military service. Let’s take a look at three steps I recommend our transitioning service members take.


Prepare Yourself

One of the best benefits you have available to you as a service member and ultimately a veteran is education. From re-enlistment school options to GI Bill and Vocation Rehabilitation, there is no shortage of ways you can better yourself academically. As an added plus, many of these option are available to you at minimal out of pocket cost. Take some time prior to your separation from active duty or immediately following to get a semester or two of college course work under your belt. Reach out to your buddies who have already separated and secured a job in the civilian workforce and ask them for help and advice. Seek out organizations whose mission is to help transitioning veterans such as Centurion Military Alliance. Do the research and ask the questions.

Promote Yourself

“What we all want is to be a valued member of a winning team on an inspiring mission.” That quote, from Rackspace Chairman of the Board Graham Weston, is true. Being humble is a great trait that should be held in the highest regard, but when applying for and interviewing for a job, focus on your accomplishments. We’re certain the work your team did and the accomplishments you achieved as a team were amazing, and we can definitely have a conversation about that in the future. But if you have an interview with us, we are trying to hire YOU to be a part of OUR team. Tell us about your individual contributions to the team’s efforts and how those individual contributions ultimately led to the success of the mission or project. We know some service members find it a bit uncomfortable to talk about decorations and awards, but believe me — we want to know all about them. Tell us about your awards and what you did to earn them.

Results vs. Responsibilities

It’s a common practice for all job seekers, not just transitioning service members, to blanket their resumes with lists of their responsibilities in all their past roles. But that does little to highlight the actual work you performed around said responsibilities. Try to focus on specific accomplishments, and the results of your individual efforts when managing these responsibilities. This ties right back into the idea of promoting yourself.

While it’s true that the transition from military life to civilian work can be a stark one, by preparing yourself before separation and being able to articulate how your military skills translate to “the real world,” you’ll make that transition smoother and more successful. Good luck!

A big “Thank you!” to Matt, John, and James, for their service, both in the military and here at Rackspace. Please share this video with any friends and family you might know who are making the transition from military to civilian employment.

And thanks for watching. Be sure to check out our show every week — we recently highlighted some great new features and services from Rackspace, speaking with the teams behind Fanatical Support for AWS, and Rackspace Managed Security. Check us out each week live at 1 p.m. Central; our on-demand audio podcasts are available via iTunes, or your favorite podcasting app.

Alan is a former Racker, who also helped create the Stevie Award winning onboarding program for cloud collaboration suite Central Desktop, working directly with companies and organizations like, Sesame Workshop, and IEEE. When he's not helping customers learn how to build awesome things in the cloud, he can be found performing improv comedy with ComedySportz San Antonio, or volunteering with the Alamo Beard Club.


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