Alumni Spotlight: Grant Cooksey, Facebook

The U.S. Navy veteran and soon-to-be Facebook employee shares his transition success story.

Grant Cooksey

Service: U.S. Navy, 6 years
Education: University of Kentucky, Class of 2012
Major: Mechanical Engineer
FourBlock Cohort: Seattle, Spring 2018
Current Company: Facebook
Position: Program Manager
Hobbies: Golfing, climbing, fishing

Grant Cooksey is a six-year U.S. Navy veteran and graduate of FourBlock’s Career Readiness Program in Seattle.

We spoke with Grant, who recently accepted a role at Facebook, to discuss the struggles and successes of his military transition, including how FourBlock helped him prepare for a career in Silicon Valley.

What struggles did you face during your transition from active duty back into civilian life?

I found the hardest part of the transition process was translating my skills to something that employers could understand. As a nuclear engineer, so much of what I do is confidential and the tools that we use are proprietary, so it was very hard to answer, “Tell me about a time….” I felt like I always had such a large emphasis on situation (referring to “STAR” format) that people’s eyes would gloss over before I could get to my point.

I believe the military is the biggest team sport in our modern society. Therefore, success is derived from having a “we” mentality in every aspect of duty. This humility had a negative impact on how I presented myself in interviews. It was through amazing mentors and a ton of practice that I learned to find that balance of talking about my contributions to the Navy, while working and thriving in a team environment.

What drove you to join FourBlock’s Seattle cohort?

I knew that FourBlock would accelerate my career search. I was looking for a program that could show me the various tools and techniques that I could leverage for my jump to a civilian career.

How did the program impact your transition?

The impact of FourBlock was tremendous. I was able to network with other veterans at amazing companies and sit down in front of recruiters and hiring managers in a non-interview setting. Doing this provided me with direct feedback, which is something that you are never/rarely given post interview.

What were your key takeaways from the course?

The biggest key takeaway from FourBlock was it showed me just how massive and broad the veteran community truly is. I realized quickly there are many veterans who are thriving in Fortune 100 companies, and they are ALL willing to help. I can’t tell you how many times I would message a prior service member on LinkedIn, without knowing them, and would get a response within minutes by someone who was eager to share, listen, and help in any way they could.

I also learned something very important: Be someone who can be helped. Randomly reaching out to someone because they work at a cool tech company with snacks and bean bag chairs is going to do nothing but damage your personal capital. Always be ready to answer the question of “how can I help you.” It may sound simple, and that a utilitarian response can suffice, but each company is more different than you think and you truly need to do your research before answering that question — and be thoughtful in your response.

What have you accomplished since completing the program?

  1. I joined the Vetforce community, where I am currently working towards my Salesforce Administrator certification.
  2. I went on to complete another military networking cohort in Silicon Valley that introduces veterans to tech. Having that foundation from FourBlock made every conversation at each company feel more natural.
  3. I accepted a role at Facebook!

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