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What can I do to become a private contractor in the military

I am a freshman at Cal Poly Pomona majoring in Computer Information Systems. I would like to develop my technical skills but I am not quite sure where to start. Any advice would be helpful, thank you. #college


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Benjamin’s Answer

The best way to get into the field is with an internship or an entry level job. Some defense contractors in your area are Leidos, Parsons, Jacobs, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Booz Allen Hamilton, and Boeing. You can apply directly on their websites, but competition is usually strong. Your school may already have a relationship with some companies, so meet with a counselor at your school's career center and see if they can help. They're also a great resource for resume review and interview prep to help you land the job.

The best way to get a position is to network with people already in the field. Ask your professors, especially if they work in the field and teach part time. Also find local networking opportunities by joining a professional society. There are Los Angeles area chapters of Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Information Systems Security Association (ISSA), National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), and others. I'm not sure which are more active and/or relevant to your career interests, but you can get an idea by looking at their websites and reaching out to ask them.

Finally, you can try to reach out to someone in the field directly on a networking site such as LinkedIn or a professional association membership directory. Find someone who has experience in the field and a company you want to work for and ask them for an informational interview. You can ask them what drew them to the field, what their day-to-day job is like, how they got started, what training you should pursue, and what you can do to land a job. Many people are busy, so don't be discouraged if they don't get back to you; follow-up a week later and if they still don't get back to you then just move on. Your univeristy career center can also help you find someone to interview, perhaps an alumni of your school, and help you prepare questions to ask.

It can take some effort to get your first job in the field, but it is worth it to launch an enjoyable and rewarding career.

Benjamin recommends the following next steps:

Research companies in the field and specific jobs at the company in your field
Find out what services are available at your school's career center and *use them*
Prepare a resume and apply for jobs online
Join a local chapter of a relevant professional society, go to their meetings, and talk to people (this is a hard skill)
Identify people in your field at the companies you're most interested in and ask if you can call them for a 30-minute informational interview

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BEATRIZ’s Answer

Network at school with clubs in the field you like. Join clubs to meet others and help give you more information about working for the different company's in your field of interest.

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