Brett Currier created an online talent marketplace, called VetGigs, that connects veterans with employers who are looking to hire them as skilled professional freelancers.
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Scott DeLuzio 00:00:00 Thanks for tuning into the Drive On Podcast, where we’re focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community, whether you’re a veteran, active duty, guard, reserve, or family member, this podcast we’ll share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I’m your host Scott DeLuzio, and now let’s get on with the show. Everybody welcome back to the Drive On Podcast. Today, my guest is Brett Currier. Brett’s organization. VetGigs is an online talent marketplace that connects veterans with employers seeking to hire them as skilled professionals, service freelancers. Brett’s here today to talk about his career in the military, his transition out of the military and how VetGigs came to be, and how it’s helping out veterans. So welcome to the show, Brett.
Brett Currier 00:00:56 Thanks so much Scott. Really happy to be here.
Scott DeLuzio 00:00:58 Yeah, absolutely. So why don’t you give us a little bit of your background and who you are, what you did in the military, that type of stuff.
Brett Currier 00:01:07 Yeah, happy to. I served 12 years between the Army National Guard and active service. I just ETS actually last year in 20, or now a year before last in 2020, in April. So I spent most of my time as a military policeman, but also served as a religious fairs NCO as well. And, my service included a torn operation, Iraqi freedom. and actually most of the wildfires you’ve seen in the news out in California, I was running the operations out there as the operations NCO, my MP unit. So that was a really fantastic opportunity as well, to kind of make an impact on our local community as a, as a veteran. After getting out of the army, actually, after leaving active service, I went into management consulting, where I worked at Deloitte consulting for nearly five years, and now work at a more specialized firm called Huron consulting group. They are really supportive, but the mission where we’re doing it, VetGigs, and it was, that time working in consulting that really gave me the idea to start VetGigs, as I saw that major disconnect between, the veteran community and all the employers who, in concept really wanted to hire them, but they wasn’t quite sure how to go about doing it.
Scott DeLuzio 00:02:31 So, where did that idea come from? I know you said your employer is very supportive of it, but, there’s more of a backstory to that and how you came up with VetGigs and everything. Give us a little background on that.
Brett Currier 00:02:46 Yeah, absolutely. I’ve always been passionate about helping others in the veteran community. I mean, that’s just part of the NCO way, we find out something new, we find a better way to do something and we’re out there teaching others in our squad or platoon or company, our community, how to do that. I really found my new professional purpose after the military in consulting and wanted to help pass on all the many resources out there on how to do it. But when it became just a deeply personal mission for me, it’s unfortunately after beginning to lose more and more battle buddies due to suicide.I lost my first battle buddy to suicide just a few months after getting back from Iraq. And that hit me really hard.
Brett Currier 00:03:37 But at that point I was still really junior, soldier, junior professional, and didn’t really have the idea yet on how I could help prevent that in the future. And unfortunately, that sense of loss, I felt compounded with each additional loss of a battle buddy. I heard from one of the last guests on your show, Chris who runs a Storytime Project, he was saying that there’s so much effort out there to get the word out just this problem, but not a whole lot, on how to fix it. It kind of hit a light bulb for me one day when I was talking with some battle buddies on what the issue is here. And we kind of found a common thread of veterans getting out of service or preparing to get out of service and they face a loss of professional purpose.
Brett Currier 00:04:35 They’re like, wow, I’m going from this role in which even as a junior enlisted person where you’re responsible for often over $300,000 worth of equipment, you’re constantly interfacing with others with very senior leadership you’re training. You have all of these many soft and hard skills you bring to the table and then go into the civilian world. And you’re the only jobs that are marketed to do your opt-in like security guard, jobs, law enforcement, things like that. Not that there’s anything wrong with those jobs, but oftentimes they don’t capitalize on the many skills you bring to the table. They don’t present income levels. That’s really going to be life-changing or equitable with your skills. And, you don’t have that same sense of comradery and everything as well. You’re not often working on part of a large tight team.
Brett Currier 00:05:26 But in consulting, you are able to work on teams, work on close-knit teams, the income you’re gonna receive starting off as often, pretty life-changing for military families. You’re working with senior client leadership often at the director C-suite level. and it’s capitalizing on all the many soft skills you bring to the table, your training, facilitation experience, your ability to kind of run a meeting. you were able to kind of take an end goal that the mission commander’s intent and, and run with it and own your piece of the mission. And so, yeah, you got to pick up some of the hard skills like tech and whatnot, but there’s so many free resources out there to learn it. So that light bulb just kind of connects and I’m like, Hey, this is how I can help. The idea actually started off as a staffing agency originally.
Brett Currier 00:06:20 And I was like, look, I can help connect these two communities, but I didn’t really see that as scalable. And one day I was kind of looking at the Upwork and Fiber Freelancer Marketplace models out there. Hey, that they’re really scalable. And they connect communities well together. Why don’t we have one of those for veterans? I didn’t see one out there, so I built it. and that’s our business side. Connecting those two parties together and helping iron out all the pain points with freelancers, or with, being a freelancer. But our real mission comes in the altruistic side where we’re just talking with veterans day in and day out, helping them figure out their career goals, helping them figure out what’s next. And then once they figure out what they want to do, whether they want to work with us as a freelancer or not, we help them get the hard skills. They need to find their new sense, professional purpose and help them get into the next mode of work. If they want to go work at a big consulting firm, we’ll help get them a referral there. If they want to work with us as a freelancer. That’s great. I mean, it’s our business and we can definitely help them as well.
Scott DeLuzio 00:07:33 The things you touched on there, and I really love this about veterans and, and the, the work ethic and their, their way that they do things is you said you, you did a little research on the different marketplaces that are out there, the fiber, the Upwork, and all that kind of stuff. And you notice that there was nothing out there geared specifically towards veterans, not saying that veterans can use any of those other marketplaces, but nothing geared specifically towards veterans. And so you built it, you see a problem and you say, well, there’s a problem up there. I’m gonna solve it. And I’m just gonna, I’m gonna figure it out and do it. That probably wasn’t the initial goal of, your research and everything that you were looking to, come up with a whole new solution here.
Scott DeLuzio 00:08:24 But that’s what ended up happening. You saw the problem and you said, well, hell with it. I’m just going to do it, so it’s a great way to look at the problem and a great thing that veterans do is they just go out there and solve problems. When you were getting out of the military, with your own transition out, what challenges did you face in that transition, that might parallel some of the things that some of the people that you’re working with might be facing as well?
Brett Currier 00:09:12 Yeah, absolutely. There’ve certainly been plenty of, I don’t want to necessarily say missteps, but stepping stones I had in my transition and plenty of blocks I’d come up with. and I’d say, one of the major things that we as veterans bring to the table is that level of tenacity, that we approach problems. I certainly didn’t set out to build a new platform, as you said, but I, as any soldier, will look at the problem to solve. We have this problem, here are my potential solutions to approach it. And when there wasn’t anything else out there I could have really utilized it well. I took this step to build it myself, but I wasn’t always a tech guy or even a consultant.
Brett Currier 00:10:06 When I first got back to my rack, I spent time bartending and I was like, this is really fun, but not something I want to do forever. Then I went back to work in, I w kind of active duty role state, active duty role for a couple of years where I was working as full-time MP, desk Sergeant, the provost Marshal office. And, again, I was able to put my brain back to work and put all of the many skills. The army built me back to work. But I also knew that wasn’t quite what I wanted to do. And that was when I learned about consulting and the roles available there. It’s funny. I actually remember the moment in which I learned about management and consulting. So I was working at the front desk of the California National Guard Headquarters, and it was a late shift or a really early shift.
Brett Currier 00:10:57 There wasn’t much happening, but I was sitting next to my NCO. I’d see. And I read a study by Deloitte or, or McKinsey, one of the big consulting firms out there. And I remember reading about how the management consultants had approached this study in this problem, working with C-suite leaders. I’m like, oh, wow, that sounds a hell of a lot, like what we do as soldiers, as an operation Sergeant or as a platoon Sergeant or we’re not approaching these problems with your command staff. This is what we do every day. So why isn’t this a more natural transition into the civilian world rather than folks getting pushed into really low-skill, low-wage work? I kind of brought that up to my end, CYC he just kind of poo-pooed all over the idea of it saying that it was not really a job for us.
Brett Currier 00:11:53 That was a job for the Ivy leaguers and those more privileged and I thought I don’t think so. I think I can do this. And so I set out trying to learn from all the mentors and at the time, no, I didn’t know. I’m not even sure ADI was a thing back then. I certainly didn’t know about it. So I was just reaching out to people on LinkedIn and people with the skill sets that I wanted. I didn’t have yet in the areas of work I wanted to be in but wasn’t working yet. And through those, and even things like the consulting subreddit, I just soaked up all the resources I could, charted my path forward, and continuously refine that, that plan we would do on the battlefield We could go into it with the best well-intended plan, and it just doesn’t, quite survive after getting punched in the face.
Brett Currier 00:12:46 We reform, we keep going towards it, so now there’s really great resources like ADI out there that veterans can go and veterans, spouses can use. I’m a really big fan of it. I’ve used it both as a veteran and as a mentor, pretty extensively. And it’s been fantastic. I think it’s important even once you achieve your first level of goals, keep going back and finding mentors who can help you achieve that next step. It certainly helped me with those gigs and that same method helped me really get it consulting as well.
Scott DeLuzio 00:13:24 And when you transition out of the military, obviously the first step is finding your next step: whether it’s education or a job or whatever it happens to be for you. You need to figure that step out. But there’s always growth after that. It’s not like you’re just going to go and start a job and then just stay stagnant in that same job for the rest of your career. You’re always looking to improve yourself and grow, ideally, you want to make sure that your life is on an upward trajectory and not a downward or, just stagnant, stale, trajectory. So even after you’ve gotten that first job, you definitely want to keep improving yourself and moving forward, to improve your situation, move up in your career, and everything else. So has this always been something that’s been like in, in your, your wheelhouse, looking for solving problems, finding new things to do, or is this something that just kinda sparked after getting out of the military?
Brett Currier 00:14:49 I certainly have always been entrepreneurial. I actually had my first legal business and I was 11 years old in the army war college when I was there as a dependent had found my dad’s shoes anyway, and just one of my chores. And so I figured, Hey, why not make some money at this too? And I wanted to just kind of do it under the table. My dad wouldn’t let that happen. So he actually made me go march myself into the MP provost marshal office, get a business license and do it for real. And at first, they laughed me out of the door. He came back in and it was like, no, no, he actually wants to do this. It’s not a joke. And so yeah, that was actually really successful my first kind of entry, into entrepreneurship.
Brett Currier 00:15:38 But of course, it took a long hiatus with being an army. I had one business during that time. But this is my first big one after completely leaving the military. And it’s something that is incredibly meaningful for me and, and really became more than a business and really a mission. As I continued to lose battle buddies and saw that this is a problem in our community that needs more than just awareness, but an active participation from us as a community stepping up and working on it because there’s so many resources out there. I kind of use the metaphor as strands of rope. I feel like folks are really disheartened when, and they can’t get all the services they can from one resource. But when we talk with each other, like you and I talked, Scott, we inform each other as resources or especially inform others of resources on your platform. On this podcast, we start tying knots between all the ropes and we create a net and that net is what really holds up our community together.
Scott DeLuzio 00:16:58 Yeah, it does. And that’s one of the things I like to do on this podcast is share all these different resources, things like VetGigs, and other organizations that I’ve had people on to talk about because maybe, something that’s going to help them out. But maybe it’s something else that they’re having a problem with. They might know somebody who’s having a problem with their career. So now they’ve listened to this episode, they’ve heard a little bit about what VetGigs does and we’re going to get into more about how that works with veterans and everything, but then they’re able to share that information. And so just like you said, and I like that of tying those pieces together in order to form that net, the vet’s going to help catch all the issues that we might be struggling with. And that’s a really good way of thinking about it because each individual strand is just not going to do and do it all on its own. But when you start tying these strands together, you make something that’s much stronger and much more supportive, and that’s going to be able to catch these issues.
Brett Currier 00:18:27 Yeah, exactly. It takes all groups.
Scott DeLuzio 00:18:30 Let’s talk about that aspect. Let’s talk about the aspect of the professional services, the freelancing side of things, where, the people who are looking to find a new purpose after the military, how does the freelancing aspect of it help them find that new purpose after getting out?
Brett Currier 00:19:01 Yeah.. That’s a really great question. I had the opportunity to work in multi-facets, across professional services, both at a big consulting firm like Deloitte, one of the largest in the world, now at a much more specialist firm Huron consulting group, which is also still very large, but just more narrow in, in-depth, in certain industries. I’ve had an opportunity to work before as a freelancer as well. And well, working at a company provides a lot of security, provides you the opportunity to put all of your hard skills and soft skills to work, and can be great opportunities for veterans. What I still find many veterans and military spouses really value when leaving the military is a sense of autonomy. They’re like, oh, I don’t, I don’t want to work for anybody else.
Brett Currier 00:19:59 I want to choose who I work for. And I want to choose the hours I work in this and that I worked in such a strict environment as the military. I want some freedom, and the cool part about being a freelancer is, yeah, you’re still working for someone in the sense of yes, they’re our client. But you get to choose who it is. If you’ve had a bad experience working with a certain consulting firm, you don’t have to work for them as a subcontractor. Maybe you don’t want to work as a subcontractor for anybody, and you want to work directly for higher ed institutions or government agencies or whoever it is who’s going to be that end and, employer, there’s plenty of opportunities to do that. The other, really big benefit is you are paid your market value as a freelancer.
Brett Currier 00:20:53 Whereas as an employee, you’re constantly having to go back to them and ask for pay raises when you up-skill. So say you’re a Salesforce consultant, you get your first level of a Salesforce administrator certification. You get a job $70,000 a year working at a big consulting firm as a Salesforce administrator. But then in six months you go and you get your app builder certification or whatnot that may have just nearly doubled your market value. And if you had got a job, then as a platform, you’re as an app builder, maybe that’s a $120,000 job, but you’re going to have to go to them. And they’re going to say up, wait till the end of the year, then you can ask for that pay raise. So at your end of the year, justify yourself as an employee, and you say, Hey, you know, I got this new certification.
Brett Currier 00:21:41 This is what my new market value is and how I’m providing all this new value to the firm. And they will say, okay, cool, we’re going to give you a 15% rate, but 15% over 70,000 is not nearly 120,000. The difference is, as a freelancer if you get that new certification, you don’t have to wait a year to ask for pay rates. You simply update your market. You’re asking the bill rate to, maybe going from $50 an hour to a hundred dollars an hour. And when you get a new client you’re working for them as an app builder, you can then charge that new a hundred dollars an hour, and your market valuation immediately goes up and you’re charging what you’re, what you’re worth. The other really big benefit as a freelancer is you don’t have all of the extra work on top of your 40 hours billable rate that you would have at a consulting firm.
Brett Currier 00:22:41 So at a consulting firm, you have your 40 hours or 50 hours a week that you are billable to a client, but then on top of that, they regularly want you to be part of the sales process to write proposals. They want you to be working on extra initiative things, which could be everything from planning a holiday party to, coming up with new methodologies and working on templates and things that grow the firm’s assets that they’re bringing to the table. So that can very easily take a 40 or 50-hour workweek to a 60, 70, 80-hour workweek, especially at the big four consulting firms. It’s quite common, as a freelancer, no one is going to ask you to stay on beyond your 40 hours, on your client’s site, because or not on your client’s site, that can be virtual or for a person because they have to pay you per hour to do that. So, no one’s going to pay you a hundred dollars an hour to plan a holiday party, unless you’re really, really good at planning holiday parties, maybe you’re consulting them.
Brett Currier 00:23:48 Exactly. But if you’re there to implement salesforce they’re probably not going to pay you to do that. And so your hours really stop there, and yeah, maybe you have five hours extra a week that you’re invoicing clients or running payroll. If you have other people working for you managing your QuickBooks for your expenses you had during the week, things like that, but it’s not going to come close to anything else. And if you’re using a tool like VetGigs we eliminate a lot of those pain points for you because you don’t have to invoice the client so that money gets dropped right in your account. You’re not spending nearly as much time finding work and writing statements of work because we help you with all of that, we really iron out all of those pain points, but you get all the many benefits that come with being a freelancer.
Brett Currier 00:24:42 you’re gaining some of the same benefits as if you were working at a big consulting firm, in the way that you’re working as part of a team. You own your own piece of the mission, and you’re trusted with the autonomy to, to really accomplish that piece of the mission. you’re often also like people reporting to you. You get to use that management leadership experience, and your growth is really only limited by your own ambition because we have access to just so many free resources out there to grow your tech skills, your business skills, everything else. And, it’s really just up to you. So, that’s one of the areas we help out with is, helping veterans who maybe have zero background in technology or business, really figure out what they could be good at in professional services and what their interests may be., because don’t worry, you’re not the only one. I had no background in technology whatsoever untilI decided to get interested and now the stuff I do isn’t super tech-heavy. You don’t have to be a coder programmer. It’s most of the configuration and tech I do, isn’t all that more complicated than updating your settings on social media,
Scott DeLuzio 00:26:06 One of the things that you mentioned and it piqued my interest. I’m curious about how VetGigs kind of eliminates some of the admin work: the invoicing clients and that type of stuff. Can you tell us a little bit about how that works? So let’s just take an example of someone who signs up with those gigs and gets a job through VetGigs. What are the benefits that they get from using VetGigs versus maybe some other freelance-type marketplace?
Brett Currier 00:26:42 Yeah, so we add on the decades platform, we really sought to identify all the pain points that come with being a freelancer and try and iron them out the best we can, like we’re gonna close in a scrunched up uniform. So the first one we notice is finding work really, because all of the other freelance marketplaces I saw out there, while they were really good at connecting employers and freelancers, they weren’t really focusing on this high skill, high paid jobs in professional services. Things like technology positions, consulting roles, whether it be strategy tech or otherwise, accounting, finance, audit, legal. And so, it’s not that there’s anything wrong with the low bill rate, jobs you see on Upwork or Fiverr. bBut the income isn’t going to be really life-changing for veterans, nor is it going to give them an opportunity to put all of their many hard and soft skills to work, in a way that, that the high skill high bill rate jobs would be.
Brett Currier 00:27:58 So I’d sought out to use my network in consulting to really grow the job opportunities on best gigs, to meet those high bill high skilled jobs. And, we’ve also set up a number of really great partnerships with great employee employers who really want to invest in, in their high, high, skilled jobs. So I work really closely with a lot of CEOs and CHRs to just not, not just staff they’re low, they’re kind of lower-echelon staff roles, but also they’re kind of leadership roles as well where they really want a lot of skill and a lot of experience. But they don’t want a full-time like full FTE in their operational expenditures. So that’s the first thing, we really help by cutting down the downtime between jobs by having a pool of really, really quality jobs on VetGigs.
Brett Currier 00:28:56 And that’s growing all the time, our pipelines are quite large, and really just stemmed by the amount of veteran freelancers on the site. So as we grow more, you’re going to see more and more jobs get posted, as we hit different thresholds of freelancers on the platform. The next thing is by helping cut down on the amount of time it takes to actually come to an agreement on the work. So in professional services generally before you start a job, and whether you’re a big consulting firm or you’re a freelancer, everyone generally does is called the statement of work. And it basically just says, look, this is the scope of the work that’s going to get done for this amount of money. And it generally takes weeks to do, because it’s generally a big word document. You’re going back and forth with all the agreement, but we cut out the need for a SOW because our platform uses really basic milestone functionality, where basically when the freelancer sees a gig, they want to send in a proposal for, they say, look, here’s my bio.
Brett Currier 00:30:00 Here’s about me. I will do X amount of work for Y amount per hour or maybe it’s a single milestone job. It’s not a repeating milestone. That’s going to go on for weeks or months. And they say, maybe do this one thing. I’ll build these sections of reports for you for $10,000. But most of our jobs are weekly or monthly paid for longer periods of time, kind of similar to a W2 position. So, more likely. Hey, I’ll come in and help you on your Workday student implementation. You can pay me a hundred dollars per hour. I’ll work 40 hours per week, and we’ll do it for 12 months. Sounds good. Yep, sounds good. That’s what we need. Perfect hire. And then based on that, that leads us to the next big pain point we help solve, which is getting paid.
Brett Currier 00:30:59 If you talk to a lot of people, especially former freelancers, they’ll tell you, yeah, it was great. I loved the flexibility, this and that, but I stopped doing it cause I had to chase down even cities to get paid. I’d be working directly for a city or county or whoever, and I couldn’t get them to pay me. And so we help solve that and negate that problem because we use the payment, based on the agreement you made on milestones. If you said a hundred dollars an hour, 40 hours a week, that’s what $4,000 a week it’s going to be on that milestone date, pull the money from the employer and drop it into the freelancer’s account. Making it just really easy and safe and fast payment for the freelancers. So we try to iron out all those bugs.
Scott DeLuzio 00:31:49 That’s a great thing because when I used to do some freelance work where I was building websites and doing things like that for local businesses and stuff, and one of the things that drove me absolutely crazy was what you just talked about with trying to track down clients and getting them to pay. And, I had one client towards the end of the time that I was doing freelance work, where he met with me, he signed up to do a website and everything was great. Then he went to Hawaii for two months and he just disappeared. He didn’t answer emails, phone calls, or anything. And, I felt, the website’s pretty much done. It’s sitting here waiting for you to approve, and I need to get paid at some point for this thing to go live. And, I had nothing. I think maybe the straw that broke the camel’s back for me to walk away from freelancing. But if there was a way to automate some of that stuff where it would just be paid when the work was done, I probably, I might still be doing that type of work because I did enjoy doing it, but that the hassle of all that stuff just drove me nuts. This was bad.
Brett Currier 00:33:17 Yeah. You’re, you’re certainly not the only one there, Scott and it’s something we help with a lot. One of the other things we really help with too is helping veterans and veteran spouses look at their lifelong learning potential too. And where’s your experience now? And your interest. And, in your case you just said, you had previously done some web design work and things like that, but maybe you came to us and look, I do this now to make pretty good money. I’m able to bill 30 bucks, 40 bucks an hour doing it. But I’d love to get into more of a consulting-type role working on a large system implementation executor. That’s where the real money is. And I would say you’re absolutely correct. So let’s look at how we can build on that experience of what you like doing and put into something else.
Brett Currier 00:34:01 And one area it’s really common for folks that have design experience and web building experiences like UX and UI design. I actually just helped place somebody the other day in a successful job. I think it’s likely going to be about $120,000 a year, doing UX UI design. And, he had kind of a similar background as well., so we helped them kind of look and say, okay, first off the experience you had before if you just put it down as web design experience, it’s probably not going to be all of that. attractive to big employers. They’re not going to look and say, oh, that’s a relevant experience. But if we start getting you in courses, learning UX and UI design, and learning language, we can re-articulate that experience is more like stepping stones and your, your design career.
Brett Currier 00:34:55 And it will really show your UI UX design starting way back then, because you may not have realized it, but you were doing wireframes and you were doing in many, many cases, high fidelity prototypes. And you just didn’t know maybe that language back then, but we’ll really articulate your experience. Get you in the courses. You can, the modern UI UX software and the language. And you’re going to be a highly attractive candidate for an employer who really wants to hire you as a freelancer or in many cases, as an employee, for that position. So it’s one more pain point. We show an actually one thing I really want to do in the future is build out a calculator to show that future value where you can plug in different inputs and say, I’m a UI UX designer, or I want to be UI UX designer. If I take this course, it’s going to take me this amount of time. And this is the new income that I can expect from it. Kind of a wealth calculator for calculating retirement, but looking at your potential earning value.
Scott DeLuzio 00:36:04 Yeah. That’s pretty cool because you might be sitting there thinking, okay, well maybe this course sounds like a good thing to do, but what does that really going to translate into for my own career in my earning potential and everything, is it even worth the time to take it? Because if it’s, if it’s just moving, moving the needle very slightly, maybe it’s not, but if it’s moving the needle, I think you were saying before, maybe you were making $50 an hour and then you can move up to a hundred dollars an hour. If you take a couple of courses and learn a new skill, that could be a pretty significant difference. That type of stuff is pretty useful. I think. So that would be cool. But I know we’ve been talking kind of generically about consulting and professional services and things like that. So what are the types of roles that are out there for the veterans and, I guess spouses too, right? Who is using this platform?
Brett Currier 00:37:09 Oh, absolutely. Scott. And I think you hit on a really important point that while we use the term veteran so much, we’re really talking about the veteran, holistic veteran community, which includes veteran spouses because they’re eligible for many of the same programs skill translation programs and, new hard skill programs where they can go and get tech certifications as well and business certifications. So as, as the veterans themselves, there are so many different roles out there. And that’s one of the reasons why I always encourage people to reach out, either directly to me on LinkedIn, via our website on VetGigs.com, or any other way, just reach out to us. And we’ll, we’ll help talk to you about the different pathways you can go, cause you don’t need to necessarily have background in that area to get into it.
Brett Currier 00:38:05 there’s always a starting point, but the career paths are so broad, even specifically just within technology projects. Because you look at just technology projects, you’ve got the project management team who have their special skill sets and roles on a project. You’ve got your change management team, which I think is so translatable to veterans and the military world. And in general, because changing jobs is to understand everything that’s happening on the project and how it’s going to impact the organization. Which is something we’re so familiar within the military. in the military, it doesn’t always handle change well, but it handles it regardless because it’s happening. Anyone who’s at wherever worked in operations or, really any department we understand, we’re used to understanding how, what our piece of the mission is, how it’s going to impact other shops downstream or, or other units on the battlefield.
Brett Currier 00:39:13, I coach people on quite a bit, and if they’re just really not sure don’t have an interest necessarily in tech or anything like that. I’m thinking about change management because there. You’re going to have to understand the elements of what’s happening. But you don’t have to be in there coding. You don’t even have to be in their configuration. it’s going to be more understanding what’s going on and then building what are effectively SOVs, we’ll call them business process designs in the business world, but you’re building like new business process blows and writing communications going out to,, the organization or to the project team on what’s happening. So that’s a really big one. The other ones are our functional consultants who really understand software as to how it’s functioning, how it’s operating, what its capabilities and limitations are.
Brett Currier 00:40:11 So then we go and work with the clients to understand what their needs are, how they need to use the software, and really gather the requirements on what needs to be done. So we can either take that to the tech team to build it, or we can configure it using the currently built systems capabilities. And then you’ve got the technical team who are the coders, the programmers, guys kind of doing things behind the scenes. And that’s more traditionally what most of us think of when we think of tech. There are plenty of veterans I’ve met who have a great aptitude in that as well. Certainly not me, but I’ve met plenty of those out there who have been taking coding courses and whatnot, while they’re in the service. Good on them.
Brett Currier 00:41:01 That’s awesome. You’ve certainly got bright careers ahead of you and there’s always people for coders. That’s a great path as well. And then you’ve got so many other things as well. The roles where the responsibilities like building databases or managing databases, you’ve also got those where building reports are really big, writing out reports in different systems, more building them from scratch as well. So all kinds of different positions out there, it’s truly limitless. And that’s just looking at tech outside of tech. You’ve got a number as well, within the business world, but tech is certainly an area where there’s just so many broad positions and there’s so much money flowing in. That’s generally an area I advise people to at least consider some of the different roles and what may be interesting. And then we can look outside too, but then you’ve got a wide range of jobs in what you could accept.
Scott DeLuzio 00:42:09 Yeah. And I totally agree with that sentiment of, in terms of there’s money to be made there. And people are looking for hiring those types of people in the tech world because even if you have no background in technology, coding, whatever like you were saying before, there’s no reason why you can’t learn it, why you can’t take a few courses and start to build your skill set to be able to be marked in those fields. When I went to college. My background is Business. I went to college first, then joined the military. A little backwards from how a lot of people do it, but that’s okay. I joined after 9/11and I, so that was kind of my spark for joining the military. But I was already in school at that point.
Scott DeLuzio 00:43:06 I wanted to finish it out. My degree was in accounting when I graduated and I ended up teaching myself how to code and develop websites and everything. And that’s what I do for work now. I learned how to do all that stuff, over the years. I was working a job that had nothing to do with coding or anything like that. But in my own spare time, I was teaching myself how to do all of that stuff. And there are so many resources out there, free resources, there’s some paid courses and things like that too, but there’s so many resources out there that there’s no reason why, if that’s something that you think you might be good at and you might enjoy doing that, you shouldn’t be able to. Do it even just in your spare time, just, nights, weekends, that type of thing.
Scott DeLuzio 00:43:59 When you have a little bit of time to just pick it up and try to see if that’s something that you, can even do, chances are pretty good that you could do it if you just put a little bit of time into learning it, especially if you don’t have any of that background. But if you do have the background,, even better for your situation, because then you have that to be able to build on and improve your skills and everything else has changed. But, there’s no reason why people can’t figure that out and learn how to do some of these things. And I can’t talk about every industry, but I’m just speaking from my own experience. If I can do it, and I’m not the brightest guy in the world, if I can do it, I think, I think a lot of people can do it.
Brett Currier 00:44:50 Yeah. I totally agree, Scott. I tell people that all the time, look, if I can do this, you can do this. We, the first to admit, I am not the superstar, just a tech guy. I’ve learned how to do it. And I’ve been pretty successful in my industry. So certainly, everyone else has the opportunity to do that as well and can definitely get there. I think it really just starts talking to, finding some mentors and your ideas. You have an idea you want to get into tech and I’ll find a mentor there, jump on better ADI, or shoot me an email We’ll talk about the different paths out there because then you can really set your sites and on what are some targeted learning opportunities I can go after that are going to help me attain my twenty-five seventy-five meter 150-meter 300-meter goals and, really attacking in a targeted manner. So you are charging in one direction really fast instead of 10 directions, kind of inching along.
Scott DeLuzio 00:46:02 Exactly. Now, what advice would you have for veterans who are looking to get into freelancing or start their own business, becoming an entrepreneur of their own business? What would you offer to them as advice, whether it’s in terms of finding the work that they want to do, or first steps, whatever it is? What advice do you have for those people?
Brett Currier 00:46:39 Well, I think there, it starts with a couple of different things. First off, you continuously build your own kind of personal board of advisors. It doesn’t need to be anything official, but, finding the right mentors who are going to support your current goals, and those may be constantly ebbing and flowing out because who’s a good mentor for you now may not be a good one for you a year, three years, five years in the future. So continuously working on building that council, your group of rabbis who can help you in your mission and you can keep in touch with them and everything too. I know I certainly keep in touch with folks who I no longer actively mentor, but they’re on helping and helping others as well. I have those who kind of helped them in the past don’t weekly or monthly go out for help anymore.
Brett Currier 00:47:42 I still reach out to them and just grab lunch or talk and keep in touch and it helps keep their network strong. The second piece I would say is continuing to learn about resources out there available to you starting a business, whether you’re doing it just as a freelancer and charging for your own time or whether you’re selling widgets. It’s a tough game. It’s tough. It is really hard. It’s a lot more work than a full-time job, but it’s rewarding, I really love it. It has given me an opportunity to put all of my skills and every bit of resources I have to helping others. At the same time. And that’s really rewarding, but I didn’t do it alone. A big one for me has been the Texas Veterans Commission.
Brett Currier 00:48:34 They help out veterans, not just in Texas, but it’s like the VA of Texas really. And they have free management consultant services where they are huge in helping you form the idea of your business, coming up with a business plan, looking at financing options. They’ll really help you every step of the way. And, have just been a really huge resource for me. They’re also really helpful in understanding the many other resources out there for veteran business owners, and just a huge network center. So, find out those resources available to you. Look at what’s specifically available in your city, county, state, federally and grow from there. And continue to bounce things off of other people in your network too. Because one thing I had just learned, earlier in 2021, when you’re looking at government contracting, which isn’t particularly my business, but I help out a lot of other veterans when they’re looking at theirs, is that every different state, local federal agency will pretty much accept a different certifying body for service-disabled veteran status.
Brett Currier 00:49:58 So if you want to, sell something or a service or product federally to the government, they may look for the VA certification, but if you want to sell it to the state of Wisconsin, maybe they use some private agency that verifies a service, disabled veteran status. So, it’s not necessarily worth it just to go and immediately get it through the VA. If you only plan on selling through a state or a local agency who is going to want a different one, that’s going to cost you $200, $500, whatever. But I wouldn’t have known that if I hadn’t talked to some other veterans in my network and they were like, Hey, be careful on this. Like, just as an FYI. I’m like, oh, okay, that’s great. Now I know I’m going to tuck that in the back of my memory for next time, I help a veteran who wants to sell a product or service to the government. Learn the resource out there and it’ll not just help you, but other veterans in your network. And, that just will continue to multiply its impact.
Scott DeLuzio 00:51:00 Well, that’s just like what you were talking about before with tying those strings together to make that net, right. You’re taking that little bit of information, from that other person. Now that’s in your network as well. And so now those strings got typed together and that just makes a more cohesive group of information that’s out there to help out the people that, not only you’re helping, but other people as you pass that information on you pass it onto me and all the listeners. Now, we have that information and now we can use that to help out other people as well, which is great. But I wanted to, just go back to one of the things that you were talking about before, about how you notice the results of your work as a freelancer, but the effort that you put in and what you’re getting back from the work that you put in, it’s totally true, because as a freelancer, you have the ability to just not work for Paco, take a week off and go do whatever you want to go to the beach in the summer, or whatever.
Scott DeLuzio 00:52:10 Go ahead. And you could do that. You don’t have anyone that you’re really going to be answering to unless you’re in the middle of a project, obviously, you can’t just walk away from that, but you can do that, but on the flip side, you’re also not making any money at that time. So you start to notice the effort that you put in and what you’re getting out of that effort, and it sort of fuels you to want to do more and get, get more involved because, I remember, getting the first couple of paychecks coming in, not paychecks, but, getting paid by clients. But, I’m getting all this money for that much work. Okay. Well, let’s see if I can if I can replicate that and do that again and again and again, just increase what I’m getting out of it.
Scott DeLuzio 00:53:03 So funny that you mentioned your entrepreneurial journey and how you started off at a young age, but my kids started a little business where they were making these knitted hats and they are selling them to people in the local community. And they spent all summer and we live in Arizona, so it’s but they spent all summer making these hats. And at the time in the back of their head, they’re probably thinking, why are we even doing this? This doesn’t make sense because who’s going to buy these things? It’s 110 degrees outside. No one wants a winter hat, but sometimes it actually gets pretty cold around here. And all the hats that they spent time making over the summer and they weren’t making any money over the summer. Because obviously no one was buying hats back then, but just before Christmas.
Scott DeLuzio 00:54:01 So the last couple of weeks, there’s like a little craft vendor, fair kind of thing in our area. And they just about sold out of all the hats that they had made and they made a bunch of money and they were so happy. They were just like, I want to make more and where can we sell more? They said, dad, let’s get a website for this. Let’s do this. And so the fire was just ignited in them. And, and so I, that’s, that’s obviously a small scale because it’s kids and the capacity that they have for making things. But they’re learning that the effort that they put in to do the work is going to translate into dollars at some point. I think when you’re a freelancer, you start to notice that as well. I just think it’s just a great thing to experience. And once when you experience it, you kind of catch a bug and it’s really hard to get rid of that bug.
Brett Currier 00:55:04 It’s so true. It’s so true. And, it’s really exciting when folks in the community start to see like they own their lifelong earning potential. And they’re like, oh, wow, I will never have to go to somebody else and ask for a raise again. Like this is because I set my bill rate based on market rate. And that market-rate increases as I get a new certification or I just grow experience. I remember when I started at Deloitte, I was working on a lot of sales work. I was telling you about what happens between the 40 or 50 hours a week, you’re billable, and the 70 or 80 hours of work. You’re working a lot of that with sales work. And I got insight into what the company was billing for my time and what I was making.
Brett Currier 00:55:54 And of course, you’ve got your benefits in there to your healthcare insurance, whatever. but still, it was just a several hundred dollars per hour discrepancy versus what I was making versus what was being billed, several hundred dollars per hour. And it was just shocking to me. Because as I grew in my experience, it was just exponentially more of my experience and certification and what they were able to bill for me. And, my pay would just kind of inch up. and that’s going to be with any employers. They’re really only going to pay what they need to, to retain. and it can still be a really great option for some people like if you really enjoy working as an employee, that’s fine, but, so many veterans are just interested in, love the idea of working as a freelancer. They just don’t quite know how to go about it or don’t know how to get past some of those major pain points, out there that come with freelancing. And, that’s where we come in.
Scott DeLuzio 00:57:03 Yeah. And, you’re right, that freelancing is not for everybody. There are people who want the stability of that same paycheck coming in week after week and everything. And that way they can better plan and budget for their own expenses and all that kind of stuff. And I totally get that because as a freelancer, it’s sometimes a feast or famine where sometimes you’re doing really great. And especially if you have a seasonal type thing that you’re consulting for or whatever the work is that you’re doing and it’s seasonal. Sometimes more fruitful over the summer months, for example, you may do great over the summer and then really be scraping by over the winter. And so you really do have to plan out and say, okay, I’m going to, I’m going to stock some of this money.
Scott DeLuzio 00:58:05 The I’m not gonna blow it all right now, just because I’m getting paid a bunch right now, and you have to really learn how to manage your, your money too. So that way by the next season where, where you’re, you’re getting paid a lot more, you still have enough money to get by and not, and you don’t want to just be getting by either you want to be growing your savings and, and thriving too. So, you don’t want to be going out blowing all that money right off the bat, just because, because times are good right now because there will be some times that it dips down and it’s, it’s not as, as level as, as having a salary job or whatever.
Brett Currier 00:58:48 Exactly. And that’s actually exactly one of the reasons we tend to focus on those tech and professional services roles too, so there is that little more stability, while you still need to kind of run your own finances with it. The projects tend to be long-term, system implementations take years and consultants are generally on for the duration or a good portion of the duration of that project. It gives you an opportunity to at least forecast maybe a year at a time, or close to it.
Scott DeLuzio 00:59:20 Yeah. And that worst case a few months you have an idea of what it’s gonna look like. So that’s a good thing about this type of work, and where, other types of work where you might be freelancing, could be just so small one-off projects that maybe last for a couple of days or a week or two at most. And, then you don’t know what’s coming next. And so, that could be a scary time for some people, especially if they have families to take care of and other, major expenses, a mortgage and car payments, and all that kind of stuff that they have to deal with. You want to have a little more stability. So it’s not the right thing for everybody, but if you can make it work for you, it, it really
Brett Currier 01:00:11 Is a great opportunity. And I’ve done it. I really enjoyed my time. There were some headaches like I mentioned earlier, but it sounds like you’ve worked out some of those kinks and made some of those headaches pretty manageable. So it seems like if you’re considering this, if you want to control your own destiny and not be answering to somebody else, like a boss or whatever, then this might be the way to go. So, I think this is a great thing that you have going here, and it’s really a great opportunity for the veterans and their families, to really make a life-changing impact on their families and their lives. Ah, thanks so much, God, it’s certainly, certainly our mission to do so. And, what keeps us driving on.
Scott DeLuzio 01:01:12 Yeah, absolutely. So it’s been a pleasure speaking with you, learning about VetGigs and everything that you’re doing. Where can people go to find out more about VetGigs and get in touch with you?
Brett Currier 01:01:23 It’s been an honor being on God. I really appreciate your time today and the opportunity to share our mission and, and, our purpose here at VetGigs. To get more information or to sign up, create a free account on VetGigs. It is www.vetgigs.com that gates, and you can also find us on our social media. We are on Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn. So you can just search for vet gigs and we’ll show up. But we really love to talk with you whether or not you’re interested in freelancing, we’re here to help, just reach out, platforms free to jump on, create an account. You, we don’t charge anything, send proposals as well. and you can actually reduce commission on work being built on vet gigs all the way down to 1%, by referring others onto the platform of helping share the word about VetGigs and, just helping us get the word out there because we have so many opportunities, really valuable, lucrative opportunities available for veterans. We are just working on getting the word out since we just launched on October 21. but we’ve got really great, awesome employer partners, including, beyond academics, big tech company after act, pride industries and, and many, many, many more, including Fanon companies and our pipeline. So it’s just a matter of getting the word out there to veterans and veterans spouses, or interested, taking advantage of some of these opportunities.
Scott DeLuzio 01:02:58 Yeah, that’s great. And I hope that we do help expand that reach for you by having this episode out there. But for the listeners, we’ll have links to all of the social media and the website in the show notes. So you can check that out there and hopefully, you’ll be able to find the type of work that brings that sense of purpose and meaning back into your life after the military service, through, through VetGigs, or just in the process that you go through to learn about what opportunities are out there and what a potential new education that you might need, hopefully, that helps point you in that right direction too. So, thank you again, Brett, it’s been a pleasure speaking with you. It’s been a great time, a great conversation with learning about VetGits and all the resources that are available out there. Again, this is just one more of those strings that gets tied together to help make that net. And I really do like that analogy. It really, really is. The way that I’m trying to work this year on, on this podcast is to bring together as many of these resources as possible and really help provide that safety net, for the veterans out there.
Brett Currier 01:04:21 Awesome. Thanks so much, Scott. It’s been a pleasure and, look forward to speaking with you again in the future.
Scott DeLuzio 01:04:29 Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website driveonpodcast.com. We’re also on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube driveonpodcast.