Army Non-Comm Officer Transfers Warehouse Operations Expertise to Biopharma
As Jose Resto neared the end of his 22-year military career, he was ready for a new challenge. But what did that next phase look like?
“When I left the Army, I thought I was going to be out of work for two years,” said Resto. “I took my uniform off on April 30. On May 1 I was officially retired. On August 30, I became a full-time Pfizer employee.”
Thanks to a partnership between the U.S. Army’s Soldier for Life transition assistance program and the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, Resto received the life sciences training needed to transfer his warehouse management skills into a similar position at Pfizer.
Launching the military career path
A native of Puerto Rico, Resto enlisted in the Army after studying business in college. During this time, he reasoned, he would learn English and the skills needed for a successful career.
“I knew the Army was going to expand my wings and that I would learn English,” said Resto. “They gave me many good opportunities that don’t come around often, so I stayed 22 years.”
As he prepared to retire, Resto took advantage of the courses and partnerships the Army offers to help military service members transition into civilian life. While taking Soldier for Life courses, he learned about internship opportunities that could lead to full-time employment.
From there, he connected with Elizabeth Ellis, NCBiotech’s workforce development director. After describing his experience in warehouse operations, including stocking hazardous materials such as chemicals, Ellis told Resto, “I think we may have a good internship for you.”
Over the next three months, he took the BioWork certificate program at Central Carolina Community College. The certificate, which is required for many entry-level positions in biopharma, provided him the knowledge he would need to work in a life sciences company warehouse.
“The BioWork certificate is important because I did not have experience in the pharmaceutical industry,” said Resto. “BioWork teaches you how things work and the areas you will be working in.”
Warehouse protocols was just one subject area covered in the BioWork course.
“When I took the class, there were people in it who would be working in different areas, including quality control, manufacturing and warehousing. With this experience, we were able to share information with each other,” Resto explained.
After earning his BioWork certificate, he began an internship at Pfizer, which turned into a contract position. In August, he became a full-time Pfizer employee as a warehouse planner II, where he is applying the skills he learned in the military.
Applying military lessons to civilian work
“One of the things I learned in the military is to do your job the best you can,” said Resto. “Do everything in a quick and safe manner because you don’t know what could happen. Be aware of what is going on and pay attention and try to do everything right the first time you do it.”
Resto’s family is also happy with his new position.
“When I retired, my wife thought it would be hard on the whole family because I would be losing money,” he said. “We didn’t expect that I was going to get this internship, do the BioWork certificate and get hired by Pfizer so quickly.”
The BioWork certificate and his new position have given Resto confidence in the future.
“If the opportunity arises, I may take on another position,” he said. “I am always open to a new challenge. However, to be more proficient, you need to know what you are doing at the bottom first.”
Learn more about how you can use your military experience to launch a career in the life sciences.