Big Thoughts

Veterans Day Spotlight: Michael White a Think Big Mentor, Marine, & Manager at ReliaQuest

This blog post is from Michael White, a Think Big Mentor and IT Plans and Engineering Manager at ReliaQuest.   Michael is also a Battalion S6 (Communications Officer) for the 3-116th Field Artillery Battalion.  In honor of Veterans Day, we asked Michael to write this guest blog post to tell us about his career path in the military and also why he choose to be a mentor through Think Big for Kids.   


My Career Path

My career path has been pretty crazy.  From 1992-2000 I did Communications Maintenance as an Active Duty and Reserve Marine in 29 Palms CA, Okinawa, Japan, and Camp Lejeune, NC.  From 1997-1998 I ran US Cellular Cell Phone and Data Networks in Knoxville TN. From 1998-2000 I did Electronic Data Systems working on the GM Satellite Network in Detroit, MI. From 2000-2013 I worked at Verizon Business doing 3rd Tier support for business networks in Cary, NC. From 2002-2012  I was in the Marine Corps Reserve multiple billets in Greensboro NC Communication Company H&S Battalion 4th MLG. There I did jobs like communications maintenance, Platoon Commander, Data Platoon, Radio Platoon, Training Chief, Company Gunnery Sergeant, and Company 1st Sergeant. Since 2013 I have been working at ReliaQuest in multiple roles in Bentonville AR, and Tampa FL. Here I have had many roles such as from RedSeal on-site support, Network Engineering Manager, IT Director and IT Plans and Engineering Manager. Additionally, since 2013 I have been in the Army National Guard in Fayetteville AR, Plant City FL where I have done Officer Candidate School, Basic Officer Leadership Course, Platoon Leader – Network and Communications Support Company, 142nd Field Artillery Brigade, and Battalion S6 -Communications Officer for the 3-116th Field Artillery Battalion.


Why I Chose to Serve in the Military

The military is something that I always saw myself doing.  My father was in the Marine Corps for 26 years and I never really thought of doing anything else.  As I was working my way through High School, I knew that college was not the right place for me to start my journey through life.  The Marine Corps gave me a place to go for training and structure that I needed at that age; I was 17 when I shipped to Boot Camp in Parris Island SC.  Due to money that invested during that first few years on Active Duty I was able to go back to College in 2007. The GI Bill paid for my entire college and I was able to get a Bachelor of Science with two majors one in Business Administration and the other in Computer Information Systems.  This was a much better time for me to go to college as I understood the value, and as such graduated with a 3.96 GPA.  Some benefits of being in the military are that it introduced me to travel and allowed me to experience a number of different cultures. Additionally, I have had the opportunity to meet and work with lots of really amazing people, undergo training, and gain experience in a valuable job field.


Why I Became a Mentor with Think Big

I chose to be a mentor with Think Big to help young adults become leaders of the future, develop interest in lifelong learning, be mindful of passion and choose a career doing what they love, and provide them with better options for their futures.


Advice to Students Interested in the Military

First, I would emphasize the importance of talking to service members that are not recruiters. Try to talk to someone that is in the field that you are looking to get into. They can help you better understand the challenges and obstacles that you will face. Second, understand that the military is not for everyone. If it is not for you, it is not a bad thing, but if you sign up do your part and finish your initial obligation. My third piece of advice is to start enlisted. If you find that the service is right for you, then look at your options to go Warrant Officer or Commissioned Officer. Finally, understand that there are certain things that are to be expected in the military: doing your job, following orders, meeting and learning to work with a wide variety of people, making lifelong friends, and the very real possibility of deploying to a combat situation. There are certain things that you should not expect in the military such as great pay, location stability, and always getting to do what you want. While the military is a very challenging experience, it is also a very rewarding experience with unmatchable opportunities and irreplaceable memories.




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