By far the hardest part of choosing a new career was not having a clue what I wanted to do. It was much easier listing what I didn’t want to do. I thought hard about why I’d loved some of my past roles but not others and eventually realised I liked working in teams and was happier working with short delivery deadlines as opposed to multi-year projects.
My realisation; work that had a short “feedback loop” on success or failure made me happier and kept me motivated, whereas long projects left me generally dissatisfied.
So in May 2018, after a few practices, I committed to my “7 clicks to freedom”. With a still murky view of what that “freedom” would look like, the decision wasn’t easy. However, I knew that after 9 years as an RAF engineer I wanted an exciting new challenge, more say on my career path, and I knew the operational & command tours I enjoyed the most were going to be few and far between the longer I stayed.
I looked at roles away from engineering but I was worried my fast jet and armaments background would typecast me in the defence or engineering sectors. Technology and finance interested me because I knew them to be fast paced (short feedback loop), competitive and varied. But I also believed that a career in Financial Services (FS) required skills and connections I simply didn’t have. I was looking for a role where I could use my military experience but also presented good growth potential; Financial Services Technology seemed to be a great fit.
At a networking event for military leavers I found several opportunities in FS (alongside many other sectors). A senior leader from JP Morgan’s VETs Programme really stood out to me as incredibly professional. I did lots of personal research (googling), networked (coffees) with veterans who had taken similar paths and attended enough insight events that I eventually felt confident applying to JP Morgan’s 2019 Military Transition Programme. Once I decided to apply to JP Morgan I sought support from the Officers’ Association who provided expert CV feedback. My experience with JP Morgan when I was exploring my options combined with the challenging but uncomplicated recruitment process assured me that JP Morgan was serious about hiring veterans, regardless of previous rank.
On the Military Transition Programme the ex-military joiners, of all ranks and Services, were formally supported by a network of veterans who were already established at the firm. The learning curve has been extremely steep yet rewarding and I genuinely feel FS Tech has a long and exciting future for me. The new team has been generous in helping to get me up to speed and I discovered early on that my military experience is highly beneficial for them too. I worked hard to improve each and every day and was fortunate enough to be offered a permanent position after just a few weeks, which really took me aback. It’s only been 5 months since I started at JP Morgan and there is still a mountain of things to learn but I am very happy. The work is rewarding, my colleagues are really impressive and I’ve been lucky enough to get a role in a leading financial services firm.
The advice I would give myself 12 months ago would be as follows:
o Work out what you don’t want to do early on, so you can focus on other things.
o Work out why you liked certain jobs in the past.
o Do a lot of research.
o Keep your eyes peeled for opportunities, they’re everywhere.
o Be comfortable with aiming high, then aim a bit higher.