Juan Ramos Charts an Unusual Career Path to IT
Graduating from high school just weeks before his eighteenth birthday, Livermore Senior Systems and Network Technician Juan Ramos was not sure what he was going to do with his life. A talk with a recruiter convinced him to join the Marine Corps, so he did, finishing preliminary training in San Diego some two months later.
While it may not be intuitive that the Marine Corps is the place to discover a professional calling in computer networking, security, and information technology, that is exactly what happened. An aptitude test led to his assignment to the Marines’ Computer Systems Specialist Course in Quantico, Virginia.
For the next 20 years, Juan served his country in the Corps, setting up and maintaining computer networks and system security, eventually training others in his work. “I worked in Okinawa for seven years, and Korea, Thailand, Guam, and the Philippines. I was assigned to Marine Special Operations Support Group, Detachment West, became a Special Operations Capability Specialist in Communications, and was deployed to Afghanistan twice, doing information technology and assurance in the northern and western areas of the country,” he says.
Juan also spent three years as a Marine recruiter in Santa Rosa, and ended his service at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms in Southern California, coordinating and teaching courses in his field.
While in the Corps, Ramos’ wife urged him to continue his education through online classes offered by various colleges, as well as additional Marine Corps training. “Since the late 1990s, the U.S. military has provided 100 percent tuition assistance,” he notes. “After a few years, the online classes began to take shape into a degree.” Juan even continued with online studies while in Afghanistan. “One of the advantages of being in information technology is that wherever you go, you’re bringing the Internet with you,” he says.
The year 2015 was a significant one for Juan. He received his B.S. in information and computer sciences, specializing in networking and security summa cum laude from Park University. He also retired from the Marines and began to plan his life after the Corps. A cousin of his wife works for a company in the Livermore area. She urged Ramos to look at the opportunities the Laboratory had to offer. In July, Juan joined Computing’s Desktop Support Section, serving the Weapons and Complex Integration organization. According to his colleagues, Juan is known as a model of quiet efficiency and great customer service.
Juan describes his new post as a dream job, a place where he can really focus on applying his occupational skills, including some competencies that weren’t relevant in the Marine Corps, as well as branching out to projects beyond his network security focus. He is also investigating the possibility of getting a Master’s degree with help from the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Today, he lives in San Francisco with his wife and two children, and the family cares for his mother-in-law while he makes the lengthy commute to his job. “I listen to a lot of books on tape while commuting,” he says, “I go through about a book a week.”
To other veterans considering applying for jobs at Livermore, Juan advises: “Consider making Livermore your primary focus—everyone I’ve met here takes pride in their work, and feels satisfaction about meeting the responsibilities of their positions honorably—having that feeling is important to those of us who have served in the military.”
I’m part of a desktop support team that deploys and sets up computers for users and keeps the computers updated. We troubleshoot and resolve desktop issues, and replace computers that have reached the end of their lifecycle. The biggest perks of the job for me are being able to help people and learn new things. Additionally, working at the Lab provides many opportunities to learn about matters beyond the scope of your duties.
I completed the last classes to earn my bachelor’s degree while I was employed at the Lab. I used public transportation so that I could read and study during my commute.