As the son of Cuban immigrants in Miami, Victor Perez was always taught to be thankful to the U.S., and when he was younger, he always wanted to serve in the U.S. Navy. That dream became a reality when Perez received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy, and, after graduating, he served as a submarine officer in the U.S. Navy from 2010 to 2016.
“I loved the Navy,” he said. “It’s by far the best experience I ever had. Transitioning out of the Navy was tough because I loved it so much, and I was very passionate about the job. But after going to graduate school and getting my MBA, I felt compelled to try something new, and I wanted to experience finance.”
Fortunately, he learned about Wells Fargo’s Veteran Employment Transition Program, an eight- to 12-week program that provides on-the-job experience, professional support, leadership insights, and networking. After his internship, Perez was offered a job, and today he is a credit trading associate for Wells Fargo Securities in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“I think a lot of the skills that I learned in the military easily transferred into business,” Perez said. “I think showing up early, showing up on time, being ready for work, taking notes, all those skills were imperative in my learning this new business. I was more mature than the average intern in corporate America because most interns are from college. I think all that paid dividends in the end.”
Perez said transitioning from the military to the civilian workforce was a little complicated, though, in terms of structure and knowing things like who was in charge, who to ask for a day off, and how to enroll in benefits. Perez also said he was happy to find fellow veterans who work for Wells Fargo — like Frank Van Buren, who has mentored him — who could answer his questions and help him transition to his civilian career.
“The fact that he’s a veteran was very helpful to me,” Perez said. “Being able to connect with someone who’s a veteran, who has had the same experience, who knows what you’ve been through, who knows your thought process, and who also knows what you need to be doing in your current job, in your current role to succeed and advance — you need that, and it’s hard to find that with someone who doesn’t understand your past. So I think having that connection and having it early was very instrumental in my success at the bank.”
Perez said he also appreciates what Wells Fargo is doing with the Zac Brown Band. Wells Fargo has honored veterans and service members with the Zac Brown Band for several years, whether it’s been through meeting with wounded veterans to talk about the difficulties service members face in transitioning to civilian life, awarding veterans with mortgage-free homes, or by recognizing them at concerts.
“One of the things that Wells Fargo is doing with the Zac Brown Band is bringing veterans together and veteran support organizations to the concerts and making veterans feel special,” Perez said. “If even for just a night, the fact that you get to get that VIP treatment and know that, hey, someone cares about you, someone cares about the service you’ve done to your country, it’s immense, and it’s gratifying to see people’s faces when they get that experience, so I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful to be a part of that.”