Vet2Tech is a Chicago organization that provides scholarships for approved technical job training to veterans. Carol Multack is the CEO and president of the company, but the route she took to assuming this role is unconventional, to say the least.
In fact, Multack didn’t obtain her bachelor’s degree until she was 53 years old. The CEO graduated from Northern Illinois University with a degree in English in 2012. College was put on hold because, as one of 10 children, it wasn’t a financial possibility.
“Money was an issue, and I worked from the time I was 14 years old,” she recalls. “College was an obstacle because we didn’t have the money to pay for it. So when I had the opportunity at 48 years old, I took it. I never had any hesitation. I still don’t.”
But it was actually her upbringing that made Multack so sure of her capabilities. While her mother did not work, her grandmother lived with the family and was a fulltime employee for Amoco Oil.
“My grandmother instilled a sense of self-worth and accomplishment in me. I knew it was absolutely possible for a woman to hold a position and raise a family.” Multack insists. “My grandmother was the matriarch of the family and her example led us to believe that we could do whatever we wanted. It never occurred to us as children that she was an extraordinary woman. We know that now. I have five sisters, and we’ve all gone on to work in different fields. We never considered that our futures were limited because we were women.”
A lack of a degree didn’t stop Multack from pursuing her interests earlier in life. Before going back to school, she worked for 22 years helping her husband build and run a medical practice, raised two children and became highly engaged in volunteer activities.
“While [running his practice], I was on the auxiliary board of the hospital.” Multack explains. “First I started as a volunteer and then finally a co-chair and chairman. I dedicated 13 years to raising money to help the under-served in my community obtain healthcare services. During that time, I also volunteered for Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Traveler’s Aid Society. It has always been important for me to give back to my community.”
It is this passion for the community that led Multack to where she is today. She majored in English at NIU because she knew she wanted to continue in the non-profit world, potentially writing grants for organizations. What she ended up doing instead was creating a passion project that is incredibly close to her heart.
Multack says she stumbled upon the plight of our young veterans while doing market research for a newly developed online vocational training program targeting a younger demographic.
“This program is perfect for a young generation of learners. It is 3-D, gamified and interactive—exactly the type of learning 18-24 year olds grew up with,” she explains. “What astounded me during my research was the unemployment rate of veterans in the same age group. Their unemployment rates were three times those of their non-veteran counterparts. What became clear was that returning veterans joined the military after high school hoping to find a sense of purpose, but when they returned from duty many of them felt like fish out of water. They did not know how to acclimate back into a civilian workforce and had trouble applying the skills they learned in the military. They needed help finding training that would get them a job.”
Touched by their circumstances, Multack immediately started a non-profit organization dedicated to helping veterans pay for the online training program she was researching and help them to find employment in related industries. Every graduate of the online training program is guaranteed a job interview with one of more than 850 hiring companies in her database.
“I have two brothers who served, as did my father,” she explains. “I wanted to reach out to veterans returning from service. The military gave them certain technical skills and reinforced characteristics such as dedication, organization and understanding the necessity to work for the betterment of an organization; skills necessary and sought-after in the service industry. I feel this program can really help struggling veterans.”
The program’s initial cost was $1,495—money that returning veterans could not easily afford. Having the program approved through the Veteran’s Administration was the first step in helping veterans pay for the training. The VA allows veterans who complete the program to be reimbursed for $495 of the training’s cost, and Multack secures scholarships for the remaining $1,000.
Within in her world at Vet2Tech and this project, Multack works in two areas that are male-dominated: the military and chief executive officers. She has found that sometimes people are surprised to find the head of Vet2Tech is a woman, but as she explains her process of helping veterans, she sees their hesitance disappear. Both the business community and the military respect her desire to help veterans find gainful employment.
“Being in a mostly male-dominated community, people are a little surprised at first that I’m a woman. I see a little bit of head tilting, but the determination and commitment I learned from my grandmother wins them over every time.”
In her work, Multack is standing up for men and women alike. She is helping veterans find their places when they come back home, but she’s also setting an example for women about going after what you want.
“If you want to do something, do it.” Multack says. “You are who you are. It makes no difference if you are a man or a woman when there’s passion combined with your mission. Nobody can stop you or tell you can’t achieve. I’ve met some pretty powerful business women, who I look to as role models and their success only reinforces the limitless possibilities available to women.
“I’m trying really hard to reach out to programs that help veterans transition. To let them know that there are jobs and help out there. That’s my biggest stumbling block. I am just one person in a big industry, and I can make a difference. Even if it’s just one person I help, I am making a difference.”
–Lauren Chval, for Shy Town Girls