My Revature Story: Future-Proof Skills

  sharmilee |

By Jim Chitwood, Director, Workforce Partnerships

Back in the late 1980s, right before I enlisted in the U.S. Army, I met a veteran at a house party in Hollywood, California. The guy was a satellite technician, a skillset he had learned in the military. The Army had paid for his training, and as you would expect, it had been top notch. He had served for a few years, then gotten out with an incredible, future-proof set of skills. Now, he was set up for a secure career with no student debt. The lesson for me was clear: If you’re going to join the Army, get yourself a gig like that. Learn a skill.

But I was a headstrong teenager, so naturally I didn’t listen. I joined the infantry and did typical infantry stuff: mounting a perimeter defense, carrying heavy objects across base, and so on. Granted, I left with the kind of soft skills you get in the military: discipline, leadership, focus. Those skills are undeniably valuable. But crucially, unlike the satellite technician, I hadn’t really learned any tangible, hard skills.

Soon enough, I would realize the error of my ways.

Unsure of what to do next, I went to college, because I thought that was just “what you did.” As with many young people, my experience of college was like being lost in a thick forest. You’re told that if you wander for long enough, you will eventually find a way out. But there are no guarantees. As it turned out, I was one of the lucky ones: I found my path eventually, though only after years of trial and error. My path out of the woods could so easily have been a dead-end.

That’s why Revature is such a game-changer. Here, we’re building a highway out of that forest, and we take the most direct route. We give our associates the most in-demand skillsets right now, whether in cloud computing, cyber security, artificial intelligence, big data, or any number of other disciplines. At the same time, we teach them how to teach themselves: how to develop new skills. In a field where the text books are out of date as soon as they are published, that, too, is essential.

In this way, we future-proof our associates, setting them up not just for one job, but for a whole career in technology. At the same time, we help fulfill the massive and growing demand for tech talent across all industries and sectors.

My role involves both sides of this equation. On the demand side, I work with employers to make sure that the skills we teach align precisely with the ones they are looking for. On the supply side, I work to recruit more associates, exploring ever-broader sources of talent and mapping aptitude to ability. I am proud to be part of a company that’s at the cutting edge of future-proofing people’s livelihoods. In the 21st century, there is no more important mission.

In my spare time, I volunteer as a career adviser for homeless kids, helping them overcome the many disadvantages they face. And I always tell them: get a tangible skill. Target a growing industry, like technology, healthcare, or alternative energy. I see them the way that satellite technician must have seen me way back when; except that the young people I speak to, just like our brilliant associates at Revature, are way smarter than I was 30-plus years ago: they actually listen to my advice.

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