People Of TEKsystems: Erik Hetrick
How one U.S. Marine transitioned to a civilian career
Erik Hetrick was in a tough spot. His wife—a diplomat with the U.S. Department of State—was being transferred to Colombia, but Erik's job couldn't transfer. Which meant after seven years in the Marines and another five in the government, he found himself looking for work in the corporate world.
Like many veterans, Erik didn't know a way of life outside the military and government. As a high school student in Arizona, Erik had thought about enlisting in the military but settled on attending college, when 9/11 changed his mind.
"I was raised to do this," says Erik of joining the U.S. Marine Corps. He'd traveled the world because of his father's job, growing up in Peru, Australia and then Arizona, and felt ready for the rigors of Marine life.
Erik was selected for a high-profile security position defending and organizing security for U.S. embassies throughout the world. He proudly recalls working under General Paxton, the Assistant Commandant of the Marines, calling him a great leader and mentor.
Leaving The Military But Still In Dangerous Territory
After leaving the Marines, Erik completed his Bachelor of Business Administration at the American Military University and got a job at the U.S. State Department performing similar security duties. "It was easy transition; I just went from a uniform to a suit," says Erik.
Erik and his wife—whom he met while working in Burma—married and had two daughters, Cora and Alia. As part of the State Department's security team, Erik regularly traveled away from his family to dangerous places, working with foreign governments to draft policies that addressed technical, physical and information security.
Erik's work was rewarding but dangerous and stressful, and he began to wish for something different. When Erik's wife was assigned to Colombia and his job required him to stay near Washington, D.C., Erik started looking.
Entering An Uncertain New World
Erik faced a hard transition to corporate life. Job titles and description language were vastly different, and Erik worried he wouldn't be compensated fairly or find a job with his skill set. "Lots of recruiters reached out to me to submit my resume to a job and I never heard from them again." Six months passed without progress.
Things changed when Nick Bielinski, a fellow veteran and TEKsystems recruiter, came across Erik's resume. "I saw the resume and was able to see what he was trying to say and how it would translate into the corporate world," says Nick.
"Before even talking about jobs, Nick got to know me, what I want, what I didn't want. What I'd done at State," says Erik. "Then he helped me translate that into a desirable resume." Within three weeks, Nick helped Erik land an interview with a large employer that would let him work 100 percent remotely—which would allow Erik to join his wife in Colombia.
Nick, an Air Force veteran who'd served in the Joint Service, was uniquely qualified to help Erik. "I understood the dynamics of his role and was able to say to a hiring manager—who was judging Erik only on his resume—this is what he did, this is what his role involved, this is what the State Department and military are like. I got the hiring manager to give him a chance and he's been a top performer."
Erik landed an 18-month contract position as an information security business analyst, helping a major financial institution onboard applications. "I had butterflies in my stomach that first day. I didn't know if I'd enjoy the opportunity, if it was right." But while learning a whole new business language was difficult, Erik quickly took to the work and people and started earning higher-level assignments beyond the company's standard business analyst role.
After getting a long-term contract, Erik moved to Colombia with his family, and eventually got a direct placement position—also 100 percent remote—with a major financial institution. While he enjoys life in Bogota, he's excited that the pay and benefits of his new position will broaden the choices of where his family can go after Colombia.
Helping veterans transition to civilian jobs
"When a lot of people get out of the Marine Corps, whether they were in IT, administration or as a mechanic, they think they have to go to college or work at Floors and Decors," says Erik. "They undervalue themselves because the language is different so they think they're not qualified, but getting into contracting is an easy bridge."
At TEKsystems, we firmly believe companies should take extra steps to help veterans transition to rewarding careers and to accommodate active reservists. And it's not just because we owe so much to those who serve; we also understand the exceptional grit, discipline and work ethic the military instills can help organizations achieve great things.
TEKsystems' veterans recruiting programs, Guard- and reserve-friendly policies, partnerships with the Pat Tillman Foundation, VetsinTech, Military Spouse Employment Partnership, and other measures supporting military members have helped us earn a Military Friendly® employer designation.
Written by Lisa Dare, TEKsystems Digital Content Strategist