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Trystan H., Department of Defense SkillBridge Program
Trystan H., Department of Defense SkillBridge Program

Life Changing Is ... Providing New Opportunities

Trystan H., Department of Defense SkillBridge Program

"Everyone deserves a shot. Take that shot and run with it."

Trystan worked in the Navy for eight years in cybersecurity, re-enlisting once. As he came toward the end of his service, he began thinking about what he wanted to do next.

Although he was born in California, Trystan's wife — whom he met in the military — was from Pennsylvania. But although he knew where he was going to live, he didn't know where he was going to work.

“I was stressing out, trying to figure out how am I going to translate into a civilian career from the military," he says. "I do count myself lucky that I did work in (information technology) because there were a lot of opportunities for that. But I didn't know anyone in Pennsylvania. I didn't know any jobs in Pennsylvania. I just knew that that's where we were going to be."

That's when he learned about the Department of Defense's SkillBridge program. Through SkillBridge, military members in the final six months of their deployment can get internships with civilian companies.

As he researched jobs in Pennsylvania, Trystan found a remote work opportunity in information technology (IT) at UPMC. He applied and interviewed for the position and landed a three-month internship.

Trystan says he found the work similar enough that most of his skills translated. He worked with personal identifiable information (PII) in the military and continues to do so at UPMC.

The biggest difference in his new job was the atmosphere. He says going from a more regimented military lifestyle to a more relaxed work environment was a "culture shock."

"I had to learn that it's not as serious," he says. "Every second's not as serious, and everyone collaborates a little more and has more of a flexible opinion.

"I hadn't come to terms with working hours. I was staying a little too long, and they would tell me to get off and go be with my family and not on the computer. I would even show up to meetings 15 minutes early.'"

Trystan says he also received advice from a fellow veteran of the SkillBridge program in making the transition from military to civilian work.

As time went on, Trystan became more accustomed. At the end of his internship, Trystan's manager offered him a full-time position. He accepted.

Since coming to UPMC, Trystan says his home life has improved greatly. In the final year of his deployment, his wife was living in Pennsylvania while he was living in Virginia, where he was stationed.

"I used to drive 6 1/2 hours from Virginia up to Pennsylvania just to be with family for the weekend, and then another 6 1/2 hours back after two days," he says. "So, I think it's improved my home life because I'm not away."

UPMC is a proud supporter of the Department of Defense SkillBridge program. We are the largest SkillBridge employer in Pennsylvania, offering work in a wide range of fields.

Trystan says he recommends the SkillBridge program — as well as UPMC — to any military members he talks to who are nearing the end of their deployment. He's thankful for the opportunity it provided to him.

“I tell them get on SkillBridge, talk to someone, talk to a hiring manager," he says. "You don't have to do the SkillBridge process, but please reach out to people and start getting help.

"Everyone deserves a shot. Take the shot and run with it."

At UPMC, Life Changing Medicine means helping people find the right opportunities.

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