From Intel, to Afghanistan, Back to Intel

Rob Polston in military helicopter
Rob Polston was a logistics officer with the 82nd Airborne Division in southern Afghanistan.

Rob Polston understands the meaning of ‘adaptable’ better than most. He started working in finance for Intel in 2004. As part of his service in the U.S. Army National Guard, he was called to active duty in 2011.

Polston spent several months in southern Afghanistan, where he experienced the kind of things most of us only hear about in the news. Now he’s serving veterans who are trying to make the transition from military to civilian life – and the workforce.

Polston is Intel’s Veteran Recruiting and Staffing Program Manager. It’s his job to identify candidates with military backgrounds whose skills match up with positions at Intel. Once veterans are hired on, Polston helps to ensure that they receive specialized, individual support as they adapt to working at Intel. Polston said the staffing team is still developing its strategy, but one focus will involve training managers in how to effectively manage and integrate veterans.

When asked why veterans make excellent employees, Polston said he could go on “for days.” He said that their team mentality, high level of discipline and adaptability are the main factors.  Adaptability has served Polston well, but he admits the transitions have not been easy. “The military is not just a job. It’s a lifestyle,” Polston said. “People have different experiences, and Intel definitely recognizes that.”

Transitioning from the high-stakes environment of a war zone to life in corporate America presents obvious obstacles. “For me it was a challenge to go from a combat zone to sitting in my cube again,” Polston said. “There’s a bit of a challenge there.” He said it can be difficult for those who haven’t served in Iraq or Afghanistan to truly understand veterans’ experiences. As part of the support system for veterans reentering the workforce at Intel, Polston can offer his firsthand experience and understanding.

Intel’s Chandler site recently announced a $300 million investment in building a new research and development facility. After its completion in the second half of 2013, the new building will house several hundred new employees. About half will be individuals with advanced engineering degrees. Other positions will be open to those with technical degrees and relevant training. Polston will be leading the effort to recruit veterans for some of these positions over the next 18 months.

Polston will visit military bases, colleges, recruiting events and career fairs in his search for the best candidates for Intel. He said that most veterans hired by Intel have at least an associate degree, and many possess elite technical training that they can apply to their work.

Intel has already hired approximately 400 veterans in Arizona so far this year. With the planned 2013 completion of Fab 42 — a $5 billion high-volume chip manufacturing plant — in addition to the new R&D facility, that number is set to rise.

The veteran recruiting and support effort is a corporate program that Intel is developing in more sites outside Arizona. Follow @JobsatIntel  on Twitter for hiring updates.