Veteran Employee Story – Manny Cabrera

Amtrak  |  The Confidence to Start Over  |

Published in the July/August 2012 issue of print Search & Employ®  |

Manny Cabrera left the Marine Corps in 1995 as a sergeant. He served as a maintenance helicopter crew member and door gunner crew chief. At Amtrak, he is the director of I&C Projects, responsible for the coordination of outside contractors doing construction work in Amtrak facilities. These projects can run in cost from $1million to $83 million.

Cabrera started at Amtrak in an entry-level position as a track worker, and worked his way up through the ranks from mechanic, foreman, assistant supervisor, and project engineer, to his current position. He believes that he reached a milestone in his career when he became a project manager. In that job, he coordinated construction projects, approved plans, and managed outside contractors. His development prepared him for his current position – but his experience in the Marine Corps got him ready to face any challenges he came across in the civilian world.

“My military experience gave me the confidence to start over,” Cabrera said. “I knew when I started at Amtrak that I would have to start from the bottom and work my way up.”

Veterans should not be afraid of making mistakes once they leave the military, according to Cabrera. “You have to have an open mind, and use the tools the military gave you,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to make a mistake and reach out for help. I found having the support of my family and friends was a good thing. NCO meetings helped me with ideas for opportunities after the military. I think taking two years off and using the GI Bill to further my education was also very good.”

Everything that the Marine Corps taught Cabrera has paid off. “The military taught me to be organized, pay attention to details, always be mindful about what is going on around you, and to be able to work well with others,” he said. “The Marines molded me and made me confident and not afraid. It gave me the ability to ask questions and set goals.”

Cabrera found that the Marines has a lot in common with Amtrak. “Amtrak is very veteran-friendly,” he said. “In my instance, it reminded me of the military. Here at Amtrak safety is first, and planning is key; these things were also very important in the Marines.”

He said that veterans should remember that the path to success isn’t always a straight one. “Don’t think you are going to start at the top,” Cabrera said. “Sometimes, you need to take a step back in order to move forward.”

About the Author

This article was written by Jay Myers