Juan Fernandez, a network engineer in the Network Services group, shares lessons from the Army that have helped guide him in his work at MITRE.
This is how MITRE network engineer Juan Fernandez describes his job:
“Imagine that the internet is a highway, and the bits of data moving through it are cars on the road. Large companies, required to maintain their own networks of roads, have wider streets, with more cars and as such, a better chance of traffic jams.”
Fernandez and his colleagues work to make sure all lanes stay open on MITRE’s superhighway, allowing the free flow of data among 9,000-plus employees across more than 60 sites. Ensuring fast and reliable network access is crucial to the success of our organization.
My advice to young veterans: There are plenty of job opportunities out there if you're willing to put in the work. Be courageous and go for it.
A Team Player, from Videogames to the Army to MITRE
Fernandez’s family moved from Bolivia to New York in 2009 when he was 14. A recent visit back to his native country made him especially grateful for the abundance of opportunities the United States offered him and his siblings. He showed his appreciation to the nation by enlisting in the Army in 2016.
Well before joining the military, Fernandez developed a fascination with the internet while playing the videogame Counterstrike, facing off against online opponents across the country. What seemed like “magic” to him as a young gamer evolved into a passion—and eventually a career.
Now, in the civilian chapter of his life at MITRE, Fernandez is getting comfortable with a steady routine and establishing roots in Virginia.
Overall, Fernandez enjoys the diversity of his work, noting that no day at MITRE is the same. “One day I could be troubleshooting slow speeds for the Colorado Springs site, and another day I could be talking to you for this interview!” he remarks with a laugh.
Fernandez initially worried about finding the right civilian opportunity to match his team-first work philosophy. But MITRE has proven to be the right fit.
He has this advice for young veterans facing similar fears: “There are plenty of opportunities out there if you're just willing to put in the work. Be courageous and go for it.”
No Stranger to Complex Situations
Fernandez, who joined our network services division in March, is no stranger to working quickly in serious situations. While serving in a similar engineering role in the Army, he deployed to both Afghanistan and Kuwait to support the sites’ critical network infrastructure.
He recalls one instance in Afghanistan when the stakes were especially high. A connection disruption between the C-RAM air-defense systems that identify incoming offensive missiles left a sector base vulnerable to a possible Taliban attack. Working under intense pressure, Fernandez and his team identified the missing link and corrected the issue with no harm done.
In his MITRE job, the stakes are not life-threatening, but the position carries a different set of challenges based on our sheer scale. Six months into the job, he’s still learning the breadth and depth of networks across the corporation.
He’s also expanding his horizons and meeting new people through MITRE’s Inclusion & Diversity initiatives—Veterans Council, the Latin-American Network, and the Adopt-A-Highway cleanup group. And to help manage stress he’s continuing an activity he started in the Army—running.
Looking ahead, he’s excited about leaning on leadership to deepen his skillsets. “There are a lot of people on my team who are so knowledgeable,” he says.
“I hope to continue learning and get to their level one day.”