For those who have not had the opportunity to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces, it’s impossible to put into words the truly unique experience serving our country provides. Duty and service makes a person who they are and the bonds that are formed in the military can sometimes be stronger than family. At SDV Solutions, we understand the sacrifice that these men and women make because we’ve been there and we’ve made those sacrifices too. We know that there is no better pool of talent than the U.S. Military, an organization centered around learning and leadership. Over half of our team members are military veterans and we’re proud to tell their stories through our series we’re calling #DutyToServe.
Meet Cooper Van Natta, Global Field Services Lead
Cooper Van Natta, Global Field Services Lead, has worked with us at SDV Solutions going on three years now. Where some people struggle to see the glass half full, Cooper talks passionately about how he’s one of the luckiest people you’ll ever meet. His positive outlook has contributed to his continued success in life and at SDV Solutions.
The Luckiest Person You’ll Ever Meet
When asked why he considers himself the luckiest person, Cooper talks about a life-changing experience he had when he was eight years old. But the story doesn’t go exactly like you may think.
Like most kids, Cooper loved racing cars. So when he was eight, his parents entered him into a raffle to win a go-kart. He won the contest but never even got to see the go-kart. Someone had broken into the shop that was hosting the raffle and cleaned out their entire inventory, leaving nothing left to give away. Although some wouldn’t consider that lucky, Cooper didn’t see it that way. As a young rebel with a need for speed, his recklessness could have turned fatal.
Not winning that free go-kart, Cooper says, saved his life. “So the way that I’m lucky that way is I probably would have died racing that go-kart… and that’s [just] one story, I’ve got a million other stories of why I’m the luckiest. And one of them actually is how I got this job,” he explains. Before his luck led him to SDV Solutions, though, Cooper served in the Marine Corps.
What Inspired Him to Join the Marines
While some people come from a long line of military veterans, it wasn’t his family history that inspired Cooper to enlist. “I joined because of the uniform,” he says. He first met his Marine Corps recruiter at a counseling center in high school. Cooper recalls how the recruiter “showed up in his dress blues with a bunch of shiny stuff” and how Cooper was mesmerized not only by the uniform, but what it represented.
Like his recruiter, Cooper didn’t excel at school but was searching for something greater. By joining the Marines, he could learn to become the best version of himself. Cooper talks about how his recruiter inspired him, saying, “[He] made something of himself and he is still to this day, something and someone that I look up to because he was the same way I was in high school and went through the Marine Corps, got a bunch of this knowledge and respect and all that good stuff that you get from the military. And it was kinda just sold at that point. I was like, look at the uniform. It’s beautiful. I want to be in that.”
Cooper’s Advice to Those Thinking About Enlisting
Cooper says that the military isn’t for everyone, but he encourages those who are already interested in enlisting to take the leap. He notes that the military offers young people a great way to gain experience that could potentially lead to a career.
“A Great Stepping Stone”
“The nice part about going into the military is you come out with four years of experience… [in] whatever job you’re doing. So if you find something that you’re really passionate about and the military has it for you, you can go and get that job, come out [with] four years of experience. You’re 22 years old and you have more experience than somebody who went to college for this, you know?” Cooper explains. “So it’s a great stepping stone to use.”
“The Best Thing That’ll Ever Happen To You”
Joining the military is not a decision to make lightly. But if you do, it just may change your life.
“I wouldn’t push it on anybody, but if somebody is already thinking about going into the military,” Cooper says, “I definitely tell them it’s probably the best thing that’ll ever happen to your life because [it’s] the best thing that’s ever happened in my life.”
The Luck That Led to SDV Solutions
Cooper’s experience in the Marines is what led him to his dream job at SDV Solutions, although he’ll probably say it was all due to luck. One of his Marine Corps friends got him a job at CenturyLink as a contractor but he soon realized that the corporate, “button-down shirt” feel wasn’t for him. He came across SDV Solutions, and it piqued his interest, as it was a smaller company, free from the downsides of corporate culture.
Even though he didn’t yet have all of the qualifications for the role, he took the chance and sent his resume over. The next week, he had an interview, and the week after that, an offer letter. After his last day at his old job, Cooper recalls, “I remember driving home after I left and just thinking like, I’m so glad I never have to go back there again, just incredibly happy. And just that whole way home, I was like, this is how it should feel on a daily basis.”
SDV Solutions: A Company That Cares
One of the reasons Cooper says he is so lucky? He works at a company that cares. “This is my dream job… I will never leave. I love this company. I love what we’re doing. And although we’ve had growing pains, we worked through them as best as we could. And it’s a different environment working with somebody who actually cares,” Cooper says.
“You know, Mike used to call once a month just to check up. How many CEOs of a company do you know that will do that? You just don’t. So, like I said, that’s another one of my ways that I’m the luckiest person in the world. Applied just saying, screw it. Why not? And here I am.”
At Home with SDV
For Cooper, working at SDV Solutions feels like home. “You’ll never find a company like this, you just won’t. It’s refreshing to see because you talk to your friends or family or whatever, and they’re like, oh, I got to go to work today. It sucks, or this, that, and the other. And I’m just here like, can’t relate. I’m sorry. I love my job. I just do. It’s nice to be home. It’s nice to be actually wanted and actually shown that you are appreciated.”