NEWS + ADVICE
3 Reasons I Chose SAIC When I Transitioned out of the Military
When an individual exits the military, there are many paths to travel. Here’s the perspective of S.M., an Intel Analyst in the Intelligence Community working for SAIC at Annapolis Junction, Maryland.
I chose a non-traditional path to the military. I joined the Army from law school. Not only did the Army offer great education benefits and opportunities, the choice also allowed me to follow in the Army tradition of my dad and grandpa.
After serving several years in the Fort Meade area, it was time to start my transition process. I pride myself on detailed planning, so I ultimately interviewed with at least 10 potential employers, looking at both primes and subs on several contracts.
Why I Chose SAIC
1. The hiring process. Interviews in the Intel community are intense, and it’s often 3 or 4 interviews that are not done concurrently. SAIC was different in this regard. Instead of coming back multiple times for interviews, I interviewed with a recruiter and then walked right in to a skill-set interview with the person who is now my manager. It couldn’t have been more different from my other interviewing experiences.
2. Although SAIC is a large company, Annapolis Junction is a tight-knit community, and there is open communication. At any time, I can talk directly with my vice president or walk into the office of my Program Manager. People know you here and appreciate the work you do. A lot of other large companies micromanage–constantly pulling people out for mandatory meetings.
Recently, I spoke with my Program Manager about increasing leave banks for disabled veterans which could help them manage their medical appointments. She not only listened, she escalated the idea to HR and then came back to me for more details to try to make it happen. That communication and responsiveness gives me a small-company feel in a large organization.
3. SAIC offered the whole package in terms of compensation. I had great benefits while I was part of the military. When I was considering compensation in the civilian community, I thought subs on a contract offered better benefits than primes, but the salaries are not as strong. But with SAIC as the prime, this was not the case. I got the whole package, both a competitive salary and top-notch benefits.
A supportive culture is important to me. SAIC has a large number of veterans and really supports the veteran community and organizations—everything from building homes for veterans, laying wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery, and running to raise money for the families of fallen soldiers.
Advice for Transition
Continuing to do the good I did in uniform and stay involved is why I decided to go the contracting route. I get to do everything I believe in and support, and I get to help and mentor others.
Really think about what you want to do, what’s right for your family, and plan ahead. That’s probably my number one tip I can give to anyone leaving the military: Plan and think ahead as far as you can— six months or a year out at a minimum. Go to sites like ClearedJobs.Net, do your research, and look at what employers are offering.
I would recommend only focusing on a few contracts that best fit your current skill-set, instead of pursuing several available contracts. This can help better prioritize what jobs, benefits, and locations you ultimately want. It also significantly lowers the amount of time spent on research and interviewing.
My Tips to Help You
When you’re interviewing, talk about the future of the company and your role, not just the specific position you’re looking at in the moment. One of the reasons I chose SAIC is because there are several options, if and when I want a change.
Making a career decision is a big deal and it can be stressful. Explore your options and think about a plan B. If you’re hired and after six months you decide you want to do something different, are there other options on the current contract? Are there other options with the employer you’re interviewing with?
Lastly, many people believe you have to live in the DC area to work for a defense or Intel contract, but that is not the case. There are locations across the country where you can leverage your clearance.