A tale of duty: From serving in the Army to helping hurricane victims to landing a tech career

Former U.S. Army Captain Jake Cortez learned valuable skills while in the service. Now—with help from JPMorgan Chase’s Military Pathways Development Program—he’s putting his experience to work in the corporate world as a Strategy Manager.

November 7, 2023

Jake Cortez was 13 years old when he told his father he wanted to attend a military school. His experience there helped shape his character and solidified his desire to enlist.

Cortez joined the U.S. Army after graduation and eventually achieved the rank of Captain. He led the planning and resourcing of combat operations across multiple functions over 10 years of service. He didn’t know it then, but the skills he acquired during his military career—leading a team, thinking strategically and performing under pressure—positioned him to serve after the military, too.

Called to serve back home

Cortez came home to Houston in 2017 from a tour of duty to attend the birth of his first child. But his homecoming was more life-changing than he anticipated. Two days after Cortez returned from the hospital with his wife and newborn son, Houston was swamped by the relentless fury of Hurricane Harvey.

“The devastation around us was unexpected, but I had to think fast, act accordingly and lead,” Cortez recalls. “These tenets remain a central part of living the mission of service to something greater than yourself. I got out there to help rebuild my community. We were one of the lucky ones.”

The young family lost their home and everything in it, taking refuge with relatives—something Cortez considers a blessing. As he volunteered to help those less fortunate, he experienced the impact of JPMorgan Chase volunteers. He later said that he will never forget those signature blue shirts.

“Seeing the direct impact they had in the community stayed with me,” Cortez recalls. When I was considering what to do after my military service, I remembered how JPMorgan Chase inspired me to continue making an impact in my civilian life. I went on their website and saw that on the homepage was a shareholders letter expressing their support for veterans. That's what led me to pursue an opportunity with the company.”

A new career with JPMorgan Chase

Soon after, Cortez ended his 10-year military career. He had enlisted as a private and left service as an infantry Captain, completing Airborne and Ranger training along the way. He led troops in Afghanistan and was responsible for the administration, supply, training and support of large groups from across the world, among other high-impact military roles.

When Cortez considered his career after the military, he wanted to work for a company that shared his values and understood the importance of service. After some research, he found the JPMorgan Chase Military Pathways Development Program and connected with a recruiter who specialized in working with veterans.

His recruiter not only understood his story of service, but helped Cortez navigate the application process to find opportunities at the company. Cortez applied for the Pathways program, which provides veterans with the necessary experience, training and mentorship to succeed after service.

The program is part of a company-wide commitment to hire, retain and promote veterans. Since 2011, JPMorgan Chase has hired more than 3,300 veterans in Texas, and more than 18,000 veterans nationally.

“We know the tremendous value that veterans bring to our firm, but we also know the transition from the military to the private sector is not always smooth or straightforward,” says Mark Elliott, Global Head of Military & Veterans Affairs. “We designed the Pathways program to identify candidates like Jake who are poised to translate these invaluable skills to the civilian workforce and get them into jobs where their skills can help them thrive in their careers after service.”

It was through the program that Cortez realized the skills he learned in the military could be combined with his interest in technology.

“I know technology is the future, and I knew how much this company invests in tech and the value it places on it,” says Cortez, who is now one of more than 1,700 technologists and software engineers in Houston alone.

“This company has opened doors of opportunity for me that I didn't think were possible, pushing me to challenge myself to find ways to learn, grow and make an impact every day," Cortez says.

Learn more about how the firm supports military veterans and their families or explore career opportunities at JPMorgan Chase.

All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, or status as a protected veteran.