Each May, Military Appreciation Month offers T-Mobile the opportunity to highlight the thousands of veterans and active military members in its ranks, and to thank military personnel everywhere for their service.
Earlier this month, Jon Freier, T-Mobile EVP of Consumer Markets and co-executive sponsor of the company’s Veterans & Allies Network employee resource group, paid tribute to several Team Magenta members who have been activated by the National Guard to support the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic. T-Mobile also continues to invest in career development and transitional programs for veterans looking for jobs after service, partnering with experts like Warriors4Wireless, FourBlock and Hiring Our Heroes.
Today we're sharing an interview with Jose Hernandez, a former U.S. Army Special Forces paratrooper who now works as a T-Mobile field technician. Jose talks about the family-like mindset he shared with his fellow soldiers, how his job keeps him on his toes, and the work T-Mobile does to support veterans.
In short, Jose says, “The culture here supports our culture in the military, too.”
Can you tell us a little bit about your personal story?
I am first-generation American, born in the United States. My family migrated from Mexico. I was born and raised in East LA, and I love everything about my background and my heritage. As a Latino growing up in that community, it's what I know.
At the age of 18 I joined the military and spent four years serving the country, getting to know all sorts of great people and experiencing all sorts of amazing things. I was very naïve, but I got an excellent jump and approach at everything.
What was your military service like?
I was a paratrooper in the military, attached to a special-forces unit right off the bat. I didn't know what I was signing up for when all of that went down. Honestly, it was possibly the best years of my life. I got to work with some of the best guys the military can provide, and the training that I got was a cut above everything else I could've wished for.
From my first day jump to my first night jump to relying on the friends that I had, the sense of brotherhood was always amazing, and I never really experienced that before. I don't have any brothers, and I experienced what it felt like to have a brother. Placing your life in the hands of others is pretty surreal. It's pretty awesome.
And you started with T-Mobile directly after?
After four years in the military, 2000-2004, I started my family - I have a son and a daughter - and from then my adventure with T-Mobile began. I've been with T-Mobile now for 14 amazing years. I started as an IT technician, and in the past six years I transferred from the IT department to the engineering department.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
Honestly, I can't tell you what a typical day is in the life of a field tech because it's constantly changing. We have company-issued vehicles, either a truck or SUV. I have a Chevy Traverse. In that vehicle I have all of my tools. Today I had to change a router at a site for a 5G upgrade. I climbed the roof five times today alone, hoisting my equipment up there to do what I have to do. It has a ladder mounted on the side of the building, but we have specific safety protocol that we have to follow.
I love my job because I have to constantly maintain myself. In this role, you have to be disciplined and you have to keep yourself open to learning new things.
Did you have technical network experience before you started working at T-Mobile?
In the military, because the base I was in was so small, I had to be the IT guy. I had no IT background, so I learned on the fly, managing our network and managing servers. So when I got out of the military and I joined the IT department at T-Mobile, it was super easy. It's along the lines of what I did in the military. So, transferring from the IT department for T-Mobile to the engineering department was seamless.
How has COVID-19 affected your work?
We are considered emergency responders as field techs, so we have an immense responsibility to make sure that our network is up and running so customers can call their loved ones and rely on their devices. Especially now in this heightened environment. That being the case, it's business as usual with an even higher priority to our customers.
How about the 5G rollout? Has that affected things?
Immensely. For myself personally, it's pretty much pedal to the metal. We're going hard. I have never been prouder of my peers. My projects alone required a lot of overtime across the team, and I received recognition from all sorts of people. And honestly, as much as it was cool getting recognition, I have my peers to thank for that because without them we couldn't have gotten things done.
What is unique about what veterans bring to the job?
We get that we have a responsibility. We have that can-do attitude, that teamwork ethic where we know sometimes you have to rely on someone else to get the job done. There's no shame in reaching out to the person next to you for help.
We just take a whole lot of pride in what we do, and we’re very grateful to have a company that takes care of us and enables us to do what we have to do, that gives us the tools — not just the physical tools but the knowledge to learn and grow — and we know, that if we ever have an issue with something, we can speak up and get resolution.
What would you tell veterans considering a career at T-Mobile?
I would tell them this is the place to do it! I've talked to other veterans and told them to come to T-Mobile. I've recommended a couple guys who now work in our retail department, and I've trained other veterans in my department. It's definitely a great place to work!
From employee benefits and military discounts to its pledge to hire 10,000 veterans and military spouses by 2023, T-Mobile is honored to serve those who serve our country. Find out more on our website.