With each advance in technological capability, a community’s means to engage with each other and their environment can reach new heights. From social media platforms to video games, technology has transformed the way people communicate and interact with one another. This virtual world, which is ever-evolving, has provided a new outlet for Marine recruiters to reach out and connect with possible applicants.
Recruiters with the 8th Marine Corps District attended their first online virtual career fair hosted by Gamerjibe on May 20, 2020. Also attending the fair were Marines with Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command and Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity. The online event, which was free and open to the public, helped Marine recruiters educate and inform potential candidates in attendance while simultaneously engaging with other entrepreneurs and tech businesses in attendance, all while from the safety of home. Attendees could voice, video and text chat with Marines while exploring the virtual booth for more information on technical career opportunities with the Marine Corps.
Peter Perez, Vice President of Gamer Development at Gamerjibe, is a former U.S. Army soldier who enlisted in 2003, shortly after 9/11. Perez’ responsibilities while in the Army included managing telephone and internet networking as well as their security. With unique experiences as a member of the military and an avid gamer, Perez believes platforms such as Gamerjibe offer unique outreach capabilities for today’s recruits.
“Sometimes you have to reach [applicants] through the things they care about and [in a] way that they are able to build further relationships. Not just through the gaming community, but the professional setting as well,” said Perez.
Captain Lavontay Santos, a cyber-security officer from Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command, was invited to participate on an emerging tech panel that culminated the week-long event. Santos was impressed with the event and applauded it for demonstrating the creative ways to leverage innovative technology to remain connected in the current environment.
“The first time I entered the Gamerjibe space and I saw the Marine avatars in Dress Blues, I was like, ‘Yep, it’s on.’ The uniform speaks for itself… this event showed me the tip of the iceberg [for] what is possible when people think outside of the box on how to use technology to connect with other human beings,” said Santos.
Major Ryan Keller, a team lead in the Advanced Concepts Cell with Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity, acknowledged how Gamerjibe’s virtual space allowed for open discussions among fellow gamers who were also in attendance.
“I demonstrated to non-Marines that a mid-level Marine Corps officer isn’t afraid to talk about and show off knowledge of his experiences with playing DoTA 2, PUBG, Dark Souls, MGS, any Zelda title… you name it. In the same vein, I wanted to tie how critical thinking, creative problem solving, and overcoming new situations in video games is a skill that translates in some limited capacity. Playing games as a hobby shouldn’t be scoffed at, there are quantifiable positive results for employing a gamer.” Major Ryan Keller, a team lead in the Advanced Concepts Cell
During the virtual event, Gunnery Sgt. Pedro Zambrano, a recruiter with 8th Marine Corps District, answered questions about the Marine Corps in the form of his Marine avatar, which was sharply displayed in a set of Dress Blues complete with rank and medals. Zambrano is not new to the use of online platforms and recognized early on the benefit of using this method to engage with this key demographic.
“Marines use online platforms daily for [seeking] future applicants and communicating with their pool,” said Zambrano. “Nowadays, since most of our market communicates through social media and a variety of apps, it assists Marines tremendously by providing an efficient line of communication that directly links them to an applicant [or] poolee. The response time becomes shortened, and Marines are able to communicate with groups… vice having to call each one individually.”
“Technology is definitely vital to success in my field,” further echoed Captain Riacca Glatt, an officer selection officer for Recruiting Station Dallas. “My area of operations is over 60,000 square miles so I cover Dallas and northeast Texas, all the way into Little Rock, Arkansas. Technology enables me to recruit across my entire [area] in the short amount of time that I have because I am traveling quite often. No matter where I’m at, I am able to perform my job because of the technology and the online platforms that the Marine Corps utilizes today.”
Zambrano further described how this innovative method of connecting with potential applicants was made easier through the use of the event’s immersive three-dimensional digital environment developed by Gamerjibe.
“Having the ability to walk around an environment that simulated an actual career fair felt nice,” said Zambrano. “I would walk up and just say hello through private chat or by typing a message. Also, stepping in a booth where others were already chatting made it easy to get included in their conversation. Our Dress Blues avatar was the talk of the career fair.
“People controlling a virtual avatar usually adhere to more social norms than one would expect,” said Keller. “Moving closer to someone that you were having a conversation with was nice. Being able to talk in real time but having the safety net of a virtual space to do that through made people far more comfortable and us as Marines more approachable.”
With interactive virtual world technologies such as Gamerjibe available, Glatt believes this innovative method of communication will significantly influence recruiting strategies in the future.
“I think technology has been a part of Marine Corps recruiting and will definitely continue to be a part of it,” said Glatt. “Virtual career fairs, video conferences, virtual panels, and other opportunities such as that are just great means of reaching a wide audience especially during uncertain times when social distancing is in place to keep the safety of our nation as the number one priority. Social media is also principle in our recruiting efforts and I believe will continue to be. As long as the Marine Corps continues to invest in the technology necessary for recruiting, we will continue to be successful in making Marines and Marine officers.”