Q&A with Antonio Chavezplata, a Veteran and Craft Professional
December 07, 2017
This week, we have the pleasure of sharing a bit of Antonio Chavezplata’s life. We thank him for his service to our country and taking the time tell us about his experiences!
Antonio served in the Navy for 20 years; he was a Chief Steelworker and held the rank of E-7, Chief Petty Officer. He’s traveled quite a bit of the world in his 17 deployments but was ready to be home with family and friends. He’s originally from Fort Worth, Texas, and was looking to move back to the Houston, Texas, area. Antonio reached out to NextOp prior to his transition from the military to a civilian career and was given an offer before his Expiration of Term of Service (ETS). He was able to begin working for HDR ICA as an Area Operations Manager in May of 2017.
Antonio shares more of his story below.
What did you do in the military?
As Operations Chief, I led 200 troops on day-to-day operations, which included on-the-job training, special combat skills and mentoring, in order to meet mission success.
Did you deploy overseas?
I completed a total of 17 deployments that were seven to eight months long to numerous locations, including Afghanistan, Kuwait, Kosovo, Guam, Spain, Okinawa, Japan, Colombia and El Salvador.
What was your proudest accomplishment in the military?
Proudest accomplishment was to work with so many outstanding Seabees with the “Can Do” attitude no matter what challenges we faced during deployment.
Why did you decide to separate from the military?
I decided to retire because completing 20 years of faithful service was enough time for me being away from my family. Returning to Houston, Texas, was long overdue to spend much needed time with my family and friends.
How did you choose your civilian career path?
I wanted to stay in the construction field and that’s the jobs I was applying for. I have leadership skills and experience in the construction field.
How long before you left the military did you begin preparing for your transition?
I started my preparation one year prior to retirement; this included getting my resume in order with all my military accomplishments and achievements for a smooth transition to retired civilian life.
What did you do to prepare for your transition?
I attended numerous job fairs in Gulfport, Mississippi, and Houston, Texas, attended a week long orientation in preparation for retirement ad spoke with many retired friends and family.
How long before you separated or retired did you begin applying for jobs?
One year prior to retirement.
What worked best in your job search?
I used LinkedIn and built a profile to help me get job recommendations in my area.
What didn’t work?
Having boots on the ground when a company needs you the next day for a job interview and having to apply for jobs in Houston while being stationed in Gulfport, Mississippi.
If you could redo your transition, what would you do differently?
I wouldn’t change anything.
What do you currently do in your position?
As Area Operations Manager, I supervise six zone supervisors and 87 employees in day-to-day roadway operations, which includes planning, organizing and control of operations and maintenance, repair and quality control for toll way facilities, plazas and EZ-tag stores. I also manage monthly scheduled routine maintenance of roadway, including sweeping, vegetation management, mowing and litter, traffic control and lane closures, signs, lighting, pavement marking, barrier wall, guardrail and attenuators, sound walls, storm water mitigation, snow and ice control, and facilities maintenance services for TollTag stores for our Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA) toll system.
How did you get this job?
While on active duty stationed in Gulfport, Mississippi, eight months prior to retirement, I was looking for jobs in Houston, Texas. I needed help in finding a good job before retirement so I connected with Cecilia Clark, the Talent Acquisition manager at NextOp. We started started emailing and working together in January of 2017. Cecilia was the one person who helped me from the beginning to the day I was hired.
What do you like best about your civilian job?
Getting to work with good employees and learning new things each and every day.
How would you characterize the pay?
Pay is really good.
Are there many other veterans in the construction field?
My project manager is an Army veteran, and we have one Navy guy and two Marines.
Would you recommend construction to service members looking for a civilian career?
Yes, this is the best company hands down. I would recommend my company to anybody looking for an opportunity to learn new things in roadway construction and facilities.
Which skills learned in the military do you apply to your job today?
Good order and discipline, as well as maintaining a positive attitude and asking for help from my coworkers.
Was there anything that surprised you about the civilian workforce?
Everyone is on a slow and different pace than what I’m used to; slow and smooth is how we get the job accomplished here.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I see myself still working with HDR ICA, becoming a project manager and doing big things for the company.
Best advice for transitioning service members?
Civilian life is different from the military. In the military, you have senior and junior leaders that get the job done with little to no supervision. Civilian life requires you to guide step by step and mentor all employees.
Cecilia A. Clark, Talent Acquisition Manager at NextOp, provided content to this blog.