From soldier to software developer: Amazon’s veterans apprenticeship helps Greg Green switch careers

Greg Green

After eight years of military service, Greg Green left the U.S. Army during the turbulence of the pandemic. Unsure about his next steps, he decided to seize an opportunity that would alter the course of his career and open the door to a new role in software development: The Amazon Technical Apprenticeship Program (ATAP), part of the Amazon Apprenticeship program.

Ready for a change

"When I was in the Army, I worked with missiles," shares Greg Green, an Amazon Software Developer based in Colorado. "There aren't too many civilian jobs where you can do that."

Greg began his Army career when he was just 17 years old. "I'm from a very small town in Virginia. There's not much there—just a Walmart, a grocery store, cows, and chickens. I joined the Army, and they told me I was going to Japan. It was so exciting."

Greg and his wife

Greg, with his wife

After dedicating eight years to serving his country, Greg was ready for a change.

Determined to acquire a new skill set, he embarked on a learning program tailored to veterans and focused on building IT skills to secure employment after military service.

But the timing wasn’t great.

“Even though I learned a new skill set and had a number of technical certifications, the COVID pandemic made it difficult for me and a lot of veterans in my class to find a job,” reveals Greg.

A new direction

Fortunately, a fellow student in Greg's program had discovered ATAP, an apprenticeship program designed to assist the military community, including veterans and their spouses, transition into technology careers. "I'd never heard of it before," Greg says, "but I decided to take a chance and apply."

At the time, the only open apprenticeship was in technical sales. Although Greg admits he’s not naturally inclined toward sales, he was determined to break into Amazon. "I was willing to do whatever it took to take care of my family."

In October 2020, Greg became a part of Amazon by joining the technical sales apprenticeship. Little did he know that he was just beginning his journey.

Learning code during downtime

"Before I had even started the program, I was teaching myself code in my spare time. Then I discovered that Java is one of the primary programming languages used at Amazon, so I focused on learning that," recounts Greg.

When the opportunity to transition into a software development apprenticeship came up, Greg seized it, and in 2022, he was accepted into the program. During the formal learning phase, he received instruction in Java, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Python before starting on-the-job training, where he found additional support. "My manager and co-workers on my team served as mentors, guiding me through my code and suggesting innovative solutions to problems."

Creativity in completing the mission

Contrary to his initial concerns, Greg has discovered that many of his Army skills have seamlessly transferred to his new role. "Software development can be complex—it demands patience and problem-solving. You've got to be creative and find a way to complete the mission. If one approach doesn't work, I go back to the drawing board to figure out what else I'm missing."

Greg credits the Army for his resilience—the ability to bounce back. "Sometimes I get frustrated," he adds, "so I take a break, grab some water, walk the dog, and return when my mind is a bit more refreshed."

His role in the Amazon Marketing Cloud (AMC) team also allows Greg to explore his interests, including his hobby as an amateur photographer. "When I was growing up, my dad was the technical-minded one, and my mom was creative," explains Greg. "So I have these two sides, and now I get to embrace both."

Greg says he’s excited about the future.

"At first, I struggled with slight imposter syndrome, but each day, I'm faced with challenges that push me, and my confidence is steadily growing."

Next steps

In September 2023, after 12 months in the apprenticeship, Greg was promoted from Software Development Apprentice to Software Developer—and he’s loving his new role.

“I'm now working in the AMC Frontend Experience Team, helping to develop and maintain a high-quality experience for our users. I'm forever grateful for this opportunity here at Amazon Ads, knowing that I can grow my career in an industry that I love while also being able to take care of my family.”