From the Military to Samsung: Veterans in the Workforce
Samsung knows that few experiences are as challenging as those faced by America’s veterans. Responsibilities can range from saving people’s lives to managing operations worth hundreds of millions of dollars in fast-paced, high-pressure environments. Oftentimes transitioning into civilian life presents challenges of its own, but Samsung recognizes that many of the skills that veterans develop make them valuable, capable employees. This summer, Samsung welcomed three veterans as interns; Joe Drury (US Air Force ’08 – ‘16), Louie Terrazas (US Navy ‘12-‘16), and James Thomas (US Navy ’10 – ‘17). We sat down with them to learn more about their background and why they feel at home at Samsung.
While day-to-day life in the military and at a business like Samsung is drastically different, Thomas found his role working with the Consumer Insights team intersected with his military work as an Intelligence Officer. “The Consumer Insights role I applied to was really interesting because we do research across all product lines,” explained Thomas. “The analytical skillset is really similar to what I did in the military, where I made recommendations for operational military commanders based on intelligence research I did”.
Having been in Linguistic Intelligence Operations for the Special Forces and now in Product Management for monitors, Drury agreed with Thomas’s sentiment. “In the military intelligence role, I was dealing with large amounts of data. I had to paint a picture of what was happening with all this data,” Drury said. “At Samsung, I’m making decisions and writing reports on the competitive landscape, consumer desires, and consumer decisions. Using quantitative and qualitative analytics to figure out what people are thinking is analogous to what I was doing in military intelligence.”
Being in the military also provided opportunities for leadership development and growth – experience that all three veterans agreed carries over at Samsung. Although Terrazas worked as a police officer in the Navy, he found that his second role in project management, where he was often tasked with doing maintenance on electrical equipment, helps him at Samsung. “We’re kind of left to do our own work. I have to detail things to how I see fit and make my own plans and I learned that in the military. In the Navy they want you to be a self-starter and it’s perfect because in my role doing product marketing for audio at Samsung, I think it’s the same.”
“There’s a very similar work ethic in the military and at Samsung in terms of being motivated to do your job and to advance the organization,” Thomas added. In the military, he said, “people’s lives can actually be on the line, so you really want to succeed. I think that drive for success also exists at Samsung.”
When asked if their military experience impacted their decision to intern at Samsung, all three veterans agreed their interest in tech and business was their biggest motivation for choosing to work at the company. However, Drury also credits Samsung’s commitments to Korean War Veteran’s family members as a major selling point in leading him to the company. “I got the opportunity in Korea to see that there was a real respect that Koreans have for Americans,” Drury elaborated. “I got to see the memorial that Koreans put up near the Korean Demilitarized Zone for all the Americans that lost their lives there. It was very cool for me to work for a company that values American veterans in particular, especially for a company which originated outside of America.”