Dublin company helps train veterans in IT testing
Halcyon's official focus might be IT business solutions, but president Mohan Viddam believes community service also should be a responsibility.
The company plans to start its second Veterans Workforce Development Program in June, an idea Viddam came up with to give back to the community and the country that has given him so much.
"It was my vision from the beginning to be actively involved in the community," he said.
Halcyon does custom software development, offers consulting services and is a Microsoft Gold partner.
When he started the business in 1992, Viddam said he had a great passion for it. But since then, his interests have turned to the company's social responsibilities.
Company employees help out at a homeless shelter in downtown Columbus, volunteer at the Dublin Food Pantry and participate in Meals on Wheels, in addition to other seasonal projects.
In January, a team from the company started the inaugural training program for veterans.
The six-week program gave the veterans training in software testing as well as some interview tips and help with resume writing.
Software training, Viddam said, does not require programming knowledge, but does get them some experience in the IT field.
"We told the veterans you will not be experts after six weeks, but you'll have enough expertise so you can hit the ground running when you get a software-testing job," he said.
The training program set up a table at a recent job fair for veterans to find members for the next class and found about 20 qualified candidates.
The next thing needed, Viddam said, is company partners that can offer veterans jobs once they've completed training.
"We have not started the next batch because we're still waiting talking to local companies to get the green light on employee need," he said.
"Having the training is important to get a job, but when the time comes we need companies to employ them."
Halcyon pays for the veteran training, but needs partner companies to help with employing graduates.
The company is also hoping to eventually get grants to help fund the program.
"We're very upfront with the veterans," Viddam said. "We tell them it's free, but we cannot guarantee them a job and you will not get paid during training."
Alan Day, director of operations, said the program also offers support once the training is complete.
"We don't want to leave them in a lurch," he said. "We want to make sure they can cope."
While the second training session is expected to start next month, Viddam has plans to expand the program further in the future.
"The second phase I have in my mind will help veterans with non-IT skills and be a conduit to local companies," he said.
Yet another phase would help update the skills of the under- and unemployed, Viddam said.
In the meantime, Halcyon will focus on providing veterans with IT training, a program Viddam said he never could have started without the help of his employees.
"Even though I had this idea one-and-a-half or two years ago to help veterans, I got help from my team," he said. "Without their help this would have been difficult."
But the program still faces challenges, including the job market, Viddam said.
"Four out of seven have gotten jobs," he said of the first class. "We're still helping the other three find jobs."
More information about the Veterans Workforce Development Program, look online at halcyonit.com.