San Antonio-based Rackspace and its RackVet Military Internship Program Create Opportunities in Tech
Systems Engineering Manager and RackVet Chair Ryan Speck explains how Rackspace is opening doors for US servicemen and women.
SAN ANTONIO, TX —In honor of the countless contributions to innovation from our country’s servicemen and women, Texas Innovators highlights people, places, and organizations emphasizing the passion and dedication of U.S. veterans. According to data from the US Department of Veterans Affairs, as of 2021, there are approximately 19 million veterans in the United States.
Each veteran holds a unique story of service and sacrifice but is also equipped with skill sets that make them highly qualified and sought-after candidates for various industries. TXi caught up with Ryan Speck, a Systems Engineering Manager at Rackspace Technology and RackVet Military Internship Chair, to describe how Rackspace is serving as an industry leader in veteran recruitment.
Through the lens of his more than 24 years of service in the United States Air Force, which included achieving the highest enlisted grade of Chief Master Sergeant, Speck heads the RackVet internship program with equal parts experience and passion. He explains the value of offering opportunities to military talent and shares why it's essential not to be afraid to pursue new challenges.
TXi: Among your responsibilities at Rackspace, you chair the RackVet Military Internship Program. Could you offer a brief overview of the program and its affiliation with Hiring Our Heroes?
Speck: As the RackVet Military Internship Chair, I oversee recruiting, selection, and program management of several military internship programs that we host at Rackspace Technologies, which include the US Chamber of Commerce Hiring Our Heroes (HOH), Skillbridge, and Education with Industry (EWI). As a product of the Hiring our Heroes program, I deeply understand the value of this initiative to connect veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses with meaningful employment opportunities.
TXi: How long has Rackspace offered this program?
I and a couple of RackVet members proposed this initiative to our Rackspace Executive Leadership Team (ELT) back in 2018. Without hesitation, ELT was fully on board, and to date, we have been privileged to host HOH, Skillbridge, and EWI cohorts. These programs have produced full-time Rackers and have bolstered relations with the Joint Base San Antonio community.
TXi: Please tell us about “Mili-Talent” and how Rackspace attracts and retains talent to Rackspace?
Rackspace Technology is located in the heart of Military City USA, San Antonio, and is home to one of the largest concentrations of military bases in the United States. Rackspace offers attractive opportunities for transition veterans and their spouses who wish to remain in the local area. Numerous military IT specialists separate daily providing Rackspace with untapped talent anxiously to start their next chapters.
TXi: It’s estimated 200,000 service members transition from the military to civilian life each year. Why is it important for companies to consider this demographic in their recruiting efforts?
Hiring military veterans has proven to be a successful strategy; in addition to gaining high-performing employees with low turnover, companies generally earn enormous goodwill from customers and a public-image boost when they commit to hiring more military veterans.
TXi: From your personal experience, what makes someone with military tenure a good fit for tech roles?
Joint Base San Antonio is a breeding ground for some of the Department of Defense’s finest IT specialists. The military offers some of the best IT training where our veterans apply these skills to real-world and often stressful settings. Rackspace is in a key geographical location to tap into this talent pool where they get subject matter experts and leaders right out of the box.
TXi: What types of post-military concerns do you consider most common among vets when looking to transition back to civilian life?
I’ve always had a saying as I was wrapping up my 24 years in the USAF, and that was “I’m not sure what I want to do when I grow up.” It was one of my most stressful events to date trying to relate to people who didn’t have military experience. When reality set in that I was no longer in the military; I immediately missed a number of things such as the all-encompassing focus on mission, the overriding sense of accomplishment, and the personal pride of serving our country. Also, in the military, we have our own lingo. There’s the whole atmosphere of it, the culture of it. You get very used to it; then you get out and find yourself having to re-program your communication skill sets.
TXi: Military spouses sometimes face unique employment challenges. Explain why it’s important for companies to develop strategies for hiring this valuable talent pool.
In my opinion, spouses play the most important role in the military household. They are the glue that holds the family together. Military spouses are an often-overlooked workforce that offers proficiencies, talents, and insights companies and hiring managers should note. After all, these are the women and men who remain home while their military member deploys, keeps the family together, and holds a job, all while not knowing when they will be asked to relocate if their spouse is reassigned.
TXi: For the person who is stepping away from military life, what do you think is the first most important step when deciding their next career path?
My advice is to take some time to decompress and reward yourself with some time off for your numerous sacrifices to this country. This break will provide some time to reflect on your experiences and expertise gained while in uniform and how you can apply that to the civilian workforce. The most important advice I can offer is to select something that you will be passionate about and know your worth when walking into these interviews. It’s not a matter of will you get a job. It’s just a matter of when, so make your job search and selection count!
TXi: And finally, what advice do you have for someone who may seem daunted by the process of finding employment with the right company?
Dedicate some time to reflect on your military experience, accomplishments, and expertise. Now ask yourself, what do you want to do next? It’s not uncommon for Veterans to change their careers as we all have a couple of things in common and that is leadership and discipline. Civilian employers value these traits, and that can be applied to the majority of business operations.
Looking for more information?
To learn more about the RackVET Internship Program and Hiring Our Heroes, visit hiringourheroes.org.