From Military to Media and Advertising: Meet Effectv’s First ‘Hiring our Heroes’ Fellow

Comcast welcomed a new cohort of Hiring Our Heroes corporate fellows and our first fellow with Effectv. The 12-week program provides a bridge to service members transitioning out of the military with hands-on experience working in the private sector.

Sam Kalapala enlisted in the United States Marine Corps following high school. He initially served as a helicopter mechanic, later earning a college degree and was selected for Officer Candidate School. As a new Second Lieutenant, he served as an Aviation Supply Officer. After 23 years of service, Sam retired from the Marines as a Major in 2023. He joined Effectv as a Program Manager on the Strategic Operations team in June. Read on for a Q&A with him about how military team members can adapt to the corporate world.

Sam Kalapala in his Marines uniform.

How did you transition into the private sector and why did you choose Effectv?

I wanted to provide stability for my family and, as my kids are reaching high school age, give them the opportunity to experience the same school for all four years and make lifelong friends without uprooting them in the middle of their high school experience. So many military families have to move for a job, and I was fortunate enough to be ready to make the transition.

Sam Kalapala with his family.

During our transition readiness seminar we go over goals, resume writing, planning our next steps, and available resources to assist in bridging the military-to-civilian transition. This is where I discovered the Hiring Our Heroes program, which connects military members with businesses that are committed to hiring them and offering a fellowship program.

I chose Effectv because I am fascinated with how the media space has a big impact on how brands succeed. It is exciting to see how quickly the industry is changing with being able to use data to target an audience and deliver the right message and the right time and see those results.

What skills are you bringing from your military experience that will help you in this role?

The most valuable skill from my military experience is leadership, which is about understanding what impact changes have on the organization and who needs to manage those changes. Leadership goes hand in hand with problem-solving and decision-making and we are trained in the military to analyze complex situations, assess risks, and make informed decisions.

As we understand the importance of working together toward meeting a common objective, it’s critical to maximize teamwork and collaboration. We need to know when to compromise and when and how to articulate the non-negotiables where many teams end up deadlocked and can’t meet their goals.

What are you getting out of your experience so far?

Business is obviously different from the military setting, and decision-making moves faster in the private sector, as there is a lot less red tape. I’ve learned how Effectv delivers targeted advertising campaigns by creating and reaching different audience segments. I’ve seen how new product features are developed and have been able to connect with peers and learn about an industry I didn’t know anything about before. Effectv has been supportive in connecting me with other ex-military members and everyone has been so willing to teach me everything from what’s an impression to how we sell them. I’m excited to see one of my first projects come to life soon.

Are there any fears or assumptions you have overcome about the private sector?

I think a fear most military people have when joining a new company or industry is acclimating to the environment. My leaders and peers have gone above and beyond to ensure I felt welcomed, valued, and ensured my onboarding was as smooth as possible. I know my learning journey will continue but it is reassuring to know that the team is there to assist.

Comcast has been a proud partner of the Hiring Our Heroes program since 2015 and has a long-time commitment to hiring military talent. You can meet Comcast’s 2023 fellows and learn more about Comcast’s involvement in the program here.