Moving with a Purpose: How the Army Prepared Trent Shoemaker for a Career in Technology

Just 3 days after his high school graduation, Trent Shoemaker had signed an enlistment contract, and at the age of 17 he arrived in South Carolina for basic training with the US Army.

This was his destiny. The moment he’d been waiting for. Growing up in a military family, Trent would wear his father’s uniforms as a child while he played “soldier”, jumping off of the furniture and into the battlefield.  

“My parents are my role models, and have been the most influential people in my life. I try to emulate them, I’ve tried to do what I see them do,” said Trent. “Dad was the soldier first, and he exposed me to that life. My mom was always available to talk about things, and always in a calm manner. They also would fully plan and research things before acting on them.”

While residing in Savannah, Georgia, at his father’s final station, he would visit with his Dad at the aviation unit. From the moment Trent saw all of the helicopters, his mind was set on a career in Army aviation.

Simultaneously, Trent discovered a passion for computers. The year his parents purchased an old commodore for his brother, he had also been taking computer classes in high school. At this point in the early 90s, technology – and all of the opportunities it had to offer – was just blossoming.

Army Life

Trent spent 21 years in the Army as an Aviation Operations Specialist, which is a job that is primarily responsible for scheduling and dispatching tactical aircraft missions. Most of his service career was spent at Fort Campbell, KY, Fort Stewart, GA and Jacksonville, FL.

While in the Army, he began to assist the communications team with IT tasks. Some of the tent systems came with materials like network switches, so he would run the network cables to different areas and find appropriate placement for computers and printers. These systems would connect the tents together and effectively build up a tent city in woods.

It was during his time in the service that Trent learned backwards planning, where one begins with the end in mind. Starting with a deadline/goal in mind, a plan is formulated that backs into the target date. This planning methodology was helpful during his larger life transitions like moving from one town to another, and serves him well today in the workplace.

After 21 years in the service, Trent began to transition out of the Army. Proud of what he had accomplished, he decided he would pursue his next interest: computers and IT work.  

Photograph of Vicasso employee in military dress and headset.
Photograph of Vicasso employee in military uniform and gun, patrolling.
Photograph of Vicasso employee in military dress with headphones, on deployment.

Career Move with a Purpose

“Move with a Purpose”: A commonly used Army phrase that means to walk quickly, efficiently and without running.

Trent dug into some of the Army resources he leveraged like their e-learning system where he was able to take college courses and various computer courses. Then, after a chance encounter with a veterans’ representative from New Horizons, he landed an opportunity to start taking more in depth classes and getting industry certifications to transition into the career field of IT.  

On his birthday in 2015, he arrived for his first job interview for a Service Desk Representative position in Jacksonville, Florida. He was told by the hiring manager that he had asked several questions that other candidates just didn’t think to ask. Trent got the job.

Within the first month in his new role, he found himself managing control of a data breach. He was locking down accounts and resetting passwords for those impacted by the security violation. This was a valuable learning experience, and he quickly realized how easy it was to fall for a phishing attempt, as well as the amount of work that went into controlling the situation.

“I’ve always wanted to be proactive about preparing users to ensure security,” offered Trent. “This is one big reason I host the internal cybersecurity lunch and learns and training program at Vicasso.”  

Working at Vicasso

Trent saw an opening for a Tech Support Analyst position at Vicasoo (then, Internet Creations), and he applied to learn more. He was very interested in how this role blended different functions of IT. He wanted the opportunity to have some variety, and keep learning.

In his years with Vicasso, Trent has been training and earning certifications related to server administration and networking, as well as advanced security to prevent data breaches and unauthorized access from occurring.

One of the best things about working in IT, is that I get the opportunity to collaborate with all teams, meet new hires, and cross departments on a regular basis. During the Salesforce user groups we host, I support the presenters and production team as well. I get to interact with everyone because everyone is connected and using the tech here.

When I joined the team, I was really surprised about how closely aligned the Vicasso Way fundamentals are to many of the principles we learned and practiced in the Army. For me, it’s a very familiar set of expectations and a strong value system that everyone here believes in. This is a group of people who are professional and motivated to be the best at what they do, and they are genuinely happy for everyone else’s success. We celebrate when someone achieves something, and there is a shared happiness.

        -Trent Shoemaker

Training Vicasso’s Boots on the Ground with IT “Office Hours”

Trent wanted to implement security training for our team to educate everyone, as well as to provide transparency for customers who may want to know that Vicasso has processes in place to promote cyber security.

He hosts weekly “office hours” sessions as well as “lunch and learns” that provide an open forum to ask IT questions as well as training on particular topics like exploring features of LastPass, improving home networking speeds, exploring computer features that employees may not know exist. He enjoys the opportunity to offer his expertise and mentorship to the team.

Most recently, Trent shared tips and best practices for keeping our devices clean, particularly during the current state of raised awareness concerning coronavirus.

As Trent considers which certifications and training he’d like to attack next, he is especially focused on supporting his family and to be there for his daughter as she navigates her teenage years. The flexible work environment at VIcasso enables Trent to be able to do this, so that both at work and at home he truly can be all that he can be.

March 16, 2020