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Sunday, April 11, 2021

Hoosier Women Veterans In Tech

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By KARA KAVENSKY
According to the Pew Research Center, between the years 1973 to 2010, the number of active-duty enlisted women in the military grew from approximately 42,000 to 167,000. And currently, women make up ten percent of our current veteran population. Currently, over 35,000 female veterans reside in our state.
Transitioning to a meaningful career after serving in the military can be a challenge. With the demand for jobs in tech, many veterans are turning towards coding and technology bootcamps to skill up into their new career. The following are profiles of a couple of our amazing Hoosier veterans who have successfully skilled up into tech careers.
Summer Kerekes is an Army veteran who served three years active duty and another three in the reserves. She was a communications specialist in the Army and worked for a phone company with executive administration for 20 years. She also worked in IT, co-managing unified communications for over 19k users when that company was sold.
Kerekes was living in Cincinnati when she was laid off. She decided to sell her home and move back to Indianapolis. Originally from the Southport area, she returned to her roots and looked for ways to broaden her skill set. Kerekes registered for Eleven Fifty Academy’s software development program and jumped into their web development course immediately after. She graduated from her second bootcamp in October and enrolled in the Salesforce and Deloitte Pathfinder program for becoming a developer on their platforms.
“I took advantage of the pandemic and committed myself to fully skilling up towards a career in tech,” says Kerekes, who is currently a learning assistant with Eleven Fifty Academy while looking for her ideal employment. “I prefer a larger company with an established structure.”
As a learning assistant, Kerekes is instructing web development to new students and is surprised that she is still learning things about the nuances of the course.
“I love education and enjoy instructing others, which I believe makes me feel more confident in my abilities,” says Kerekes. “My military training definitely prepared me for this.”
After graduating from Pike High School, Christi Wynter attended to Penn State for a few years and reached a point where she needed a break. She was less than two semesters away from graduating and felt that her courses in information sciences and technology were not adequately preparing her for a career. What she was really interested in was cybersecurity but needed a break from college. Her brother was in the Army that that time and encouraged her to enlist in either the Navy or Air Force. Wynter opted for the Navy.
“I was interested in cybersecurity and my classes at Penn State were theory-based and not at all practical in application,” says Wynter, who was less than three semesters away from graduation. “While in the Navy, I earned a degree in business administration while stationed in Connecticut and my education in cybersecurity would happen maybe one day soon.”
While serving in the US Navy, Wynter was a Nuclear Electronics Technician for the almost thirteen years she served. She monitored and performed required maintenance on nuclear instruments on her Carrier. This job requires the highest degrees of accuracy and attention to detail. She supervised a team of 20 and processed sailors in and out of NNPTC
“My job in the Navy was highly regulated. We had a procedure for everything. While the job description was intimidating, you didn’t think about the risks and only focused on the next step in the procedure,” shares Wynter.
In 2018, Wynter read an article describing cyber space as “the next battle zone” and it peaked her interest. She wanted to have a fulfilling career and the ability to spend more time with her family. She and her husband have three children. In order to accomplish this, Wynter chose to leave the Navy to pursue a career that offered a similar sense of purpose that she experienced in the Navy. The Wynter family returned to Indianapolis in March of 2020. While searching for opportunities, Wynter discovered the Cybersecurity program offered by Eleven Fifty Academy, a nonprofit coding bootcamp located in Indianapolis. Before enrolling, Wynter had attempted to complete a cyber certification on her own but found it to be difficult. Unsure of employment possibilities during a pandemic, she also identified a window of opportunity with Eleven Fifty Academy.
Wynter started her bootcamp in June and graduated in September. She thought it would be difficult to find a position, but she was almost immediately hired by Sophos as a Threat Analyst. At Sophos, Wynter battles “threat actors” who use a variety of stealthy techniques to infiltrate systems.
“I like my job. I need to be constantly updating my skill set to stay fresh,” says Wynter, who works twelve hour shifts. “Nothing is ever really the same day by day.”

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