Katherine Webster began her career in technology at the age of 19 – she led Global Strategy and Market Development at Sun Microsystems for 16 years, as well as founded TechCentralSF, an online directory for high tech and bio tech in San Francisco.
Just as Katherine has spent her career in the tech field, Katherine’s father spent his career in the military – he served in the Army during the Korean War and later in the Air National Guard.
In 2012, upon noticing that military veterans were having difficulty finding jobs as civilians, Katherine founded VetsInTech, an organization dedicated to tech education and career placement for military veterans.
At Modern Customer Experience 2017, Katherine joined Oracle for an interview regarding VetsInTech’s mission to support veterans into tech careers, the organization’s partnership with Oracle and other top tech companies, and how military veterans and non-veterans can get involved.
View the video and read Katherine’s interview below.
My name is Katherine Webster, and I’m the Founder of VetsInTech.
VetsInTech was formed just five years ago in 2012. We had a hackathon to bring together vets and the tech community and the veterans said, “Please do more of this,” because the only things they were getting invited to were lame career fairs. They loved that kind of environment and getting to embed themselves in the tech community. Craig Newmark of Craigslist joined me and put his name on it, and that’s really when VetsInTech was born.
Our mission is to support veterans into tech careers. We do that through three types of programs: education, employment, and entrepreneurship.
In education, we’re training veterans in web development, in cybersecurity, and on other platforms such as Oracle.
In employment, we have approximately 20 of the top tech companies wanting to hire veterans, so we have an employer coalition that does just that. We meet quarterly and bring about 100 vets together each time.
In entrepreneurship – it’s very interesting – due to the leadership capabilities of our veterans, about 48% actually prefer to start their own business. We support them through training in entrepreneurship, teaching them everything from finance to design thinking, and supporting them and introducing them into the investor networks.
Doing good is just good business, which is a philosophy we [VetsInTech and Oracle] both feel very strongly about. We’re also working with Oracle in the employment department to hire veterans. They make such great employees – the leadership, the work ethic, the ability to work as a team and across cultures. Our veterans are amazing, and Oracle came to us to work together and we’re super excited about it.
There are a few opportunities to get involved with VetsInTech. Mentoring is one – we encourage anybody who’s interested, in addition to veterans. Quite a few veterans have landed into tech – there are about 200,000 returning every year [transitioning out of the military and into civilian life] – and so many have landed in tech and now they’re helping their younger brothers and sisters come into tech. So we have a lot of vets helping vets, but even if you’re not a vet and you want to help, please come to vetsintech.co and you can contact us through there. You can also follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook. Just get involved – it’s a great community. Almost everybody I know has somebody that is a friend or family member in the military and we encourage you to get involved.
We are meeting so many vets in tech right here [at Oracle’s ModernCX]. People are coming up to us from all over to the country, and they’re like, “Oh, I am a vet in tech.” We’ve signed up people here today to come to our cybersecurity training, and our web development classes, so it’s been amazing.
To learn more about VetsInTech, visit vetsintech.co.
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Transcript may be edited for readability.
Header photo courtesy of VetsInTech