Hiring Heroes: EPISD gives soldiers valuable work experience
(EL PASO INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT -- Nov. 20, 2019) — Fort Bliss soldier Minwoo Wang spent the last 12 weeks in EPISD learning the civilian side of cybersecurity while sharing his military experience and knowledge with the district’s technology team.
Sgt. Wang, who is set to leave the U.S. Army in January, was part of the 12-week partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to bring the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program to El Paso. The program helps soldiers get training in hopes of preparing troops to transition into the civilian workforce.
For Wang, the lessons he learned as a fellow in EPISD were invaluable. The skills he gathered helped him land a tech job in southern California.
“I came in as an information system security administrator and in the last 12 weeks, I’ve been trying my best to come up with solutions to help the school district and students to be safe in cyberspace,” Wang said.
EPISD information security officer Damon Pinero jumped at the opportunity to bring on a fellow from the Hiring Our Heroes program. A former soldier, Pinero knows the value of bringing a soldier into the workplace.
“Bringing someone else from the military allowed my current team to get some aspects of the military side, which is very structured and policy-driven,” Pinero said. “They get to see more so where I came from so they could see where the things I say we're coming from a good place.”
When Wang initially began at EPISD, Pinero had him working with network security.
“I further exposure realized he was a very good program scripter so I moved him over to application security,” Pinero said. “We’ve had him develop some processes and assist with engineering some applications.”
IT wasn’t Wang’s job in the military, but it’s the career path the 24-year-old now wants to follow. Still, his role as an Army logistician gave him some tools to transition into the civilian world.
“This was a huge change for me,” Wang said. “I was always that IT guy in my family and I’ve studied all the IT certifications and my degree is in IT,” he said. “The experience from the military helped with being disciplined and how to interact with other people.”
EPISD was one of the first to partner with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation on the program. Since EPISD began working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation in 2016, six soldiers have benefitted from working alongside professionals in the District professionals.
“EPISD has always been a strong partner with Fort Bliss in support of our military students and we want to do more for the service members themselves as they transition from the military,” said Alan Weirnicki, EPISD chief quality officer and military liaison. “The Hiring Our Heroes Fellowship program benefits the soldier by allowing them to start their civilian job search, develop their skills and showcase their value to potential employers while they are still on active duty.”
EPISD expects to continue the partnership and accepting more fellows into professional workspaces throughout the district.
“The program better connects our employees with veterans while we benefit from their skills and years of demonstrated leadership,” Weirnicki said. “This is a tremendous program that benefits our veterans, our school district and the entire El Paso community.”
Photo by Leonel Monroy