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From Marine Corps to Telecom: Paving a New Career Path in the Wireless Industry

Nichole Champ joined Tilson in early 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. On her first day, Tilson made an announcement to move to a remote work environment; on her second day, Nichole’s two children were sent home from school for virtual learning. Despite a uniquely challenging start, she found success at Tilson and credits the company’s flexibility and support. Nichole also credits her success to her “do it scared” mindset.

“I will always be thankful to Tilson during the most challenging transition of my career,” says Nichole. “It was a very wild ride, but I had a manager who recognized my potential and was flexible with my schedule.”

Tilson is Nichole’s first job in the telecom industry, and she jumped in willing to learn and take chances straightaway. The work presented several learning curves in the beginning, but she welcomed the challenge even though it felt uncomfortable. She is always on the lookout for new experiences and ways to push herself, so it is no surprise that in her three years at Tilson, she has already taken on a variety of roles. In 2020, she began as an Accounts Payables Specialist before moving into Operations, experiencing a series of promotions that took her from a Coordinator to a Support Manager before landing in her current role as the Program Manager of Wireless. At Tilson, team members like Nichole are encouraged to try new career paths that will challenge them to grow and learn more about the industry.

Prior to Tilson, Nichole served four years as a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Defense Specialist with the United States Marine Corps, worked as a corrections officer, and as a security officer.

While working as a security officer, a fellow Veteran introduced Nichole to Tilson’s EVP of Workforce, Adria Horn, who encouraged her to apply for a job. As a Veteran-led company, Tilson actively recruits and looks for ways to support individuals who served or are currently serving in the Armed Forces; through programs like the SkillBridge internship, which helps active duty service members transition into the civilian workforce, and with supportive benefits like fully paid military leave for members of the Reserve and National Guard. Tilson values the experience and talents of Veterans, Active Military, and Military Spouses.

Even though Nichole had not worked in telecom before, Tilson recognized her skills gained from her previous roles and time in the Marine Corps and gave her the opportunity and support to succeed.

“Tilson has empathy, which is not something you find in many work settings,” she said. “Integrity matters to me and I see how the crews are connected to our [Tilson’s] core values of Safety, Composure, Respect, Accountability, Professionalism, and Integrity.”

Nichole is quick to recognize her teammates when asked what she finds most rewarding about her career. “I’ll stay at any job for the people, and my connection with the crew members and others at Tilson is what I enjoy most.”

In her day-to-day work, Nichole sums up her responsibilities as “finding problems and fixing them before they become an issue. I find inefficiencies and figure out how to solve them so we can work smarter and more safely.” It’s a perfect role for someone who loves to tackle challenges head on and achieve ambitious goals.

“Nichole’s presence illuminates our team, providing a spark of inspiration and determination for all who have the privilege of working alongside her,” said Conor Hobbs, Nichole’s Manager and VP of Wireless at Tilson. “Nichole’s unwavering dedication, compassion, and intuition provide a gentle reminder for all to embrace challenges with courage and grace.”

This attitude extends into her personal life where she’s a self-described “adrenaline junky.” Whether she’s running a marathon, powerlifting, skydiving, dirt biking, or hunting and fishing, Nichole is always looking for the next adventure and wants to experience everything life has to offer. Seeking to always learn new skills, she recently completed her Wireless Tower Certification and pursues every opportunity to be in the field.

If you are unsure about jumping into a new career in the telecom industry, embrace Nichole’s “do it scared” attitude and take the leap. She advises those new to the field to “be humble, ask questions, and have integrity.” If you bring an open and willing attitude, Tilson has the support and training to ensure you are set up for success in a new role.

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