How Verizon Wireless Helped Advance my Post-military Career

Stacy McGarr went from a Navy veteran to a director of network operations at Verizon Wireless.

By Stacy McGarr on May 23, 2014

At Verizon Wireless, we’re proud to hire former military members. We know veterans are dedicated and strong and possess a multitude of skills that make for valuable employees within our company.

This is the story of Stacy McGarr, a Navy veteran who worked her way up the ranks at Verizon Wireless to become a director in the Illinois/Wisconsin Region.

The beginning

For many high school students, the obvious next step after graduation is going to college.

I watched many of my classmates go off and spend a lot of money on tuition – but not take their education seriously. I wasn’t sure this was the path I wanted to take. Instead, I decided to follow in the footsteps of my father, brother and many uncles: I joined the armed forces.

In 1996, I joined the Navy as a Gunner’s Mate, which had been a male-only field just a few years earlier. For anyone who knows me well, joining at this rank would come as a surprise. While I had never held or shot a gun before – the first time we went to the shooting range, I ended up shooting the wrong target – I love challenges and enjoy proving I can do things.

After the life-changing experience of boot camp, I went to my first school in the Navy, which centered around small arms, basic electronics, hand tools and leadership courses. On the first day, we were told the top five students would be sent to a second school specializing in missile systems. This was an opportunity I knew I wanted.

I studied hard and earned a place at the school. The classes were much more technical, as missiles are launched via computer. But I did well and graduated at the top of my class. That allowed me to choose the port I wanted as my base – I chose Florida, on a destroyer based in Mayport.

I served my tour of four years, did some traveling, and had a son, then decided it was time to go back to the civilian world to spend time with my family. I moved to Ohio, where I enrolled in college.

Utilizing the skills I gained in the Navy, along with everything I learned from having a child, I focused on my schoolwork and graduated with a 4.0 in computer information systems management.

Getting in the door

In 2001, I accepted a job with Verizon Wireless as an associate engineer responsible for drive-testing the network. Eventually, I was promoted to system performance engineer, which led to a new position as RF (radio frequency) engineer. I had another child, went back to school with the help of Verizon Wireless’ tuition reimbursement program, and was nominated for the “MW Mobility” program, an internal mentor program. The program helped me define my short- and long-term goals, allowing me to create a career path based on these goals.

I later took an area-planning role, working within Verizon Wireless’ 15-state Midwest Area, which exposed me to more of the company’s regions in that area. I got a firsthand look at the budgeting processes and other functions with the network team. I then was promoted to a managerial position.

It’s been a long journey to where I am now, serving as Verizon Wireless’ Director of Network Operations for the Illinois/Wisconsin Region, but in no way is my journey over. The sky’s the limit when you have the drive to go for what you want, along with the opportunity to acquire new skills and continue putting them to work in new ways. It helps that Verizon Wireless gives its employees every opportunity to be successful. I try to give back as much as I can by mentoring others who want to advance their careers as I have.

The military gave me the foundation to be the leader I am today. I’m happy Verizon Wireless sees the value veterans can bring to the business.

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Stacy McGarr is a Navy veteran who worked her way up the ranks at Verizon Wireless to become a director of Network Operations in the Illinois/Wisconsin Region.

Tags: U.S. Navy, U.S. Military, Verizon Wireless, veterans, careers