Hiring Veterans in the High-Tech & High-Volume Manufacturing World

August 31, 2017

Q&A with Stephen Harder

As our company continues to advocate for placement of military veterans in STEM careers, we decided to sit down and talk about this very topic with a former serviceman about careers at NSTAR and working in the semiconductor industry. Stephen Harder is a global key accounts manager with NSTAR, working out of the Portland Metro Area. He has almost 20 years of semiconductor industry experience. Before entering the industry, he served in the Navy as a submarine electronics communications technician.

He took the time to explain the benefits of hiring military men and women, as well as the advantages of working in the high-tech industries and markets to which NSTAR devotes most of its resources.

What are three advantages of employing veterans for STEM-related jobs?

Stephen Harder: Veterans are used to working with technology, and typically possess a great deal of process logic they can draw from to succeed in technical careers.

Additionally, most veterans are comfortable in any technical or cultural environment due to their diverse training. They’re familiar with working under pressure, and tend to be extremely safety-conscious people when approaching tasks. Unlike the general population, the overwhelming majority of veterans are open to relocating, or at least traveling, even at a moment’s notice.


Do you have any veterans employed at NSTAR?

Harder: Yes. We employ a long list of veterans. At NSTAR, we’re proud to contribute to the cause by providing opportunities for those who have served our country. It’s our turn to give back to them, and we’re grateful to be able to do it.


What sets veterans apart from other hires?

Harder: Most veterans possess a certain work ethic that’s difficult to find outside of the military. Some may consider it old-fashioned, but they’re willing to start from the bottom and work their way up. Veterans tend to be timely, organized and open to training.


Do veterans have training that makes them especially suited to the positions NSTAR is trying to fill?

Harder: They certainly do. Military schools provide world-class training in electronics for various mechanical areas. With a smaller teacher-to-student ratio, these programs are able to offer more hands-on experience. Some programs even offer certificates for technical school program completion, which lend themselves extremely well to the technical service positions we need to fill.


Do you work with specific organizations to promote the hiring of veterans?

Harder: We work through direct contacts at military bases in key areas. One extremely helpful organization is the Texas Veterans Leadership Program, which maintains a database of transitioning military.

Additionally, NSTAR Global Services is proud to work with Hire Heroes USA to aid our men and women in finding jobs when returning from (or transitioning out of) military service. Also, as a company, we pledged our advocacy to the Utah Patriot Partnership program—an important initiative in a state where our customers have operations.


NSTAR received recognition based on one employee’s experience while he was still serving in the military. Did this experience reinforce your commitment to veterans?

Harder: We really have never questioned our commitment to veterans; that said, we recognize their need for flexibility. We understand that military reservists must adhere to government orders, but we want to make sure they have the ability to return to their jobs; thus, military reservists are encouraged to sign on knowing we’ll respect their service commitments.


What advice would you give to a veteran who’s seeking employment in a STEM-related job?

Harder: In the Navy, I received some of the most involved and hands-on training for electronic communication devices at that time. That training helped me understand the limits—or lack thereof—of technology. That experience was not unique: Whether it’s submarines or helicopters, the men and women of the military can take the training and knowledge they acquired and directly apply it to an industry that provides a future. Technology is evolving every day, which is an opportunity for veterans looking to transition out of the service.