UnitedHealth Group Blog

Nov 03, 2016

From Active Duty Military to a Fast-Track Tech Career at UnitedHealth Group

BY LORI B.

UnitedHealth Group is proud to serve its military members and community. We recently spoke with Joe, who got his start with the company in our Technology Development Program. Joe was on Active Duty for four years and graduated UMass Amherst with a Computer Science degree and focus in security. He still serves on the Army Reserve today.

JoeNiquette_TDPMilitary
How did you find out about UnitedHealth Group and the Technology Development Program?

At the start of my senior year, I attended a career fair to learn about entry-level security positions. I talked to over 20 different companies. I met some great people at UnitedHealth Group and was introduced to the Technology Development Program. In 2011 they had three rotations (vs. 2 rotation programs to date). Out of the rotations, I chose the systems analyst position. I was excited because the role was a great way for me to get into the company and eventually work my way over into a security level position.

Did you get to choose your TDP rotation or was it chosen for you?

They asked what I wanted in my interview. Based off the job description, I told them that a system analyst position is what interested me the most. The role is a blend of being a developer and the person who figures out the solution or requirement. Basically you take the ideas from the business and help the developers put that idea together. The role requires some tech experience and people skills. I felt like I was a good fit.

TDP Tip: Each rotation has a different manager, team and responsibility. The rotations are designed to give participants a breadth of experience and a chance to explore interests.

Tell us about your first rotation and what you gained from your experience.

My first rotation in 2011 was a system analyst position. I helped create a PEGA application to register business and software systems. I was the lead systems analyst for this project. Our team worked with a development crew for eight months from initial concepts to post-deployment. PEGA is a pretty important architecture strategy knowledge database within the company. I believe it’s still used today.

Who has inspired you in the program?

We all had coaches and mentors within the program. My coach was very influential in my career, giving me advice during my PEGA project to supporting my next rotation in security. He still mentors me today.

How did your project work made a difference or impact the greater good of society?

In the PEGA application, we significantly cut down the amount of time it takes a team to register an application. Our project work allowed significant cost/time efficiencies and gave the money back to our constituents and consumers so that we can drive a healthier system and a cheaper health care offering.

Tell us about your second rotation.

Before I went on military leave, I asked about piloting a security position within the Technology Development Program. The leadership team had identified a significant gap between employees with 10+ years of security experience vs. new grads who didn’t have the proper work experience. So they were on-board to train and develop college grads into security professionals. I helped develop the training requirements and guidance path of this role within the Tech Development program. It was very exciting times.

What projects did you work on in your security rotation?

One of most significant TDP projects that have trajected me on my career so far was building a security tools list. This list included 600+ security tools at UnitedHealth Group. My job was to contact the owners to understand the tool’s maturity level. I took advantage of these conversations to ask for a brief demo of each tool. It turned into a tremendous networking opportunity with the entire security community. Even three years later, people still come to me and ask about XYZ tool. It makes me feel good to help out others.

How about your third rotation?

After that I transitioned into a security architect position. I shadowed a security architect team the entire time. They taught me firewalls, databases, internal security policies, health care regulations. That’s how I learned a lot about what I’m doing today. That role has evolved into my current position as security solutions architect, where I’m designing net new solutions for the company’s current architectures.

What was the culture and community like within TDP?

At the time, we only had six individuals in Hartford. Almost every day we’d met up for lunch, which evolved to playing Ultimate Frisbee at the park. Then a few months later we started meeting up for game night and talking about our work, careers and daily lives. Everyone knew each other. That’s how it feels in TDP – you’re close. You rely on each other to getting answers from other teams, problem solving, networking, building bridges. The close-knit friendships are certainly one of TDP’s best features.  I’m still close with all of them today.

Did you feel like TDP set you up for success?

I felt no doubt that I was going somewhere after that final rotation. Managers developed training plans to help set me up for success. I still talk to my coach, my mentor and all my friends in the TDP program. I don’t think that will ever stop.

What advice do you have for future TDPers?

I’m an UMass School Champion so I talk to a lot of students at campus events. One thing I tell them is this: It’s okay if you don’t know exactly what you want to do when you graduate. That’s where this program will set you up for success. You’ll have opportunities to be in real-life working situations.
This program is fantastic for those folks who think they have a path figured out but they’re not quite sure. TDP gives them the confidence to be successful. And the support mechanism inside TDP is unlike any other company.

 


 

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