My Flight Path: From the Royal Air Force to McAfee

By: Gareth, Technical Support Engineer, UK

Where do you see yourself in five years? This well-known question is the crux of any career planning. Your answer may take self-reflection with twists and turns or it may be a more obvious, straightforward path. My answer was the latter—or so I thought.

Just last year, my answer was serving in the Royal Air Force (RAF). But here I am, at McAfee as a veteran through McAfee’s Return to Workplace program. I’m thankful my career took a few twists.

Change in Flight Path

For nearly two decades, serving in the RAF was all I knew. I carried out ceremonial duties in the Queen’s Colour Squadron, deployed airfield communication systems and served as an instructor for several certification courses. The RAF was my second home. I imagined my career beginning and ending with a commitment to serve and protect.

Last year, my career veered left. After a severe injury, I was medically discharged. The surgery and rehabilitation proved a challenge, but the loss of what felt like my lifelong purpose was another shock to my system that took time to accept.

In a way, I felt prepared. Flight paths change. I refocused this as an unexpected opportunity to reinvent myself in the civilian world.

Finding Flight Instructions

I asked myself the infamous question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” I landed in the technology sector as a logical next step, given my background. My answer didn’t include belonging—I doubted I would find a sense of purpose the RAF offered.

All too quickly, I learned military certifications don’t hold much value to corporations. Prospective employers informed me I didn’t have the right education or the right experience.

I needed flying instructions to support my entry into seemingly foreign territory.

I stood on the edge of defeat when I stumbled upon McAfee’s Return to Workplace program—for veterans! This 12-week program would provide classroom and on-the-job training I could add to my resume. Here were my flying instructions.

A New Squadron at McAfee

My fingers couldn’t click apply fast enough. I was the first veteran accepted into the program. Though newly established, my experience was second to none. The stand-out training and customer work rebuilt my confidence.

I even found belonging and purpose. The team environment is not unlike the military. Team members willingly supported me in solving problems or directing me to someone who could help. Although how I protect my family, community and government looks different from military to McAfee, my purpose remains.

I’m thrilled to continue my work with McAfee after the 12-week period. I plan to support other veterans through McAfee’s Return to Workplace program. Even though I’m qualified and capable, my difficulty in finding civilian work is not a unique experience for veterans. I’m hopeful I can make a difference for veterans looking to reenter civilian life and help others realize the value veteran experience offers.

I’m confident I now have the skills needed for takeoff and where do I see myself in five years? At McAfee.

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