MSB Student Spotlight: Army Vet Enters IT World

Posted by on April 21, 2015

By Douglas Ahlman and Joel Bisser

While serving in the Army in Iraq, Douglas Ahlman knew he wanted to attend college when he returned.

“I actually chose my program while I was deployed to Iraq. It was a stressful time and place. I promised myself that when I left the military, I was going to do something I was passionate about, and that was computers,” says Douglas, who was injured on deployment and eventually retired after 12 years of service, mostly in Europe.

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Upon graduating with a bachelor’s degree in software application development from Minnesota School of Business (MSB)-Lakeville, Douglas was recently hired at Crabtree Companies in Eagan. He is working on back-end development software for enterprise content management systems. He is also learning the company’s software systems, and part of that training includes support in order to help alleviate defects or bugs that may arise in the client software. These are specialized systems so his training is unique to those systems.

Douglas spoke highly of his experience and instructors at MSB-Lakeville.

“It’s the instructors that prepare you for future careers. While course content changes every year due to developments and advancements, it’s really how the instructors use that course content in teaching students to prepare them for future employment. Every instructor was very professional, helpful and knowledgeable in their areas,” Douglas said. “Most of my studies have been with Susan Furtney. She has been very instrumental in my success. Even when I thought I was out of ideas, or just not smart enough to do something, she provided the support, help and inspiration in order to succeed in every software project I have designed, created or worked on.”

Douglas continued, “Another notable instructor I have met is Joel Bisser. I never realized how much reading and writing skills would be needed in software development until later in my studies. For every software development project I worked on, the amount of documentation and planning was incredible. The details needed and the clarity necessary requires developers to have a strong reading and writing skills.”

During his time at MSB-Lakeville, Douglas participated in several applied and service learning projects, but the one that made the most impact was working with a local chapter of the Wounded Warrior Project to listen to soldiers recently out the military who had similar experiences to his.

“It was more of a group therapy session that I got to sit in on, but having people with similar backgrounds that can relate to each other while talking really does help. Plus having someone that has been through the VA process, and can lend a few tips and objective thoughts is a huge bonus to those soldiers. I wish I had found something similar when I first retired from the military. In this last decade, so many soldiers have been affected by the acts of war, and they really need people to talk to in order to share our thoughts and feelings,” Douglas said.

In his spare time, Douglas enjoys cooking, hunting, fishing and gardening fresh fruits and vegetables because he cans (jellies, pickles, jerky, etc) those food products for later use.

Most of his spare time, though, is spent with his family.

“I missed out on so much when I was in the military because of training and deployments that I want to make up for some of that lost time,” Douglas explained. He has been married to his wife, Alexandra, for almost 10 years, and they have two kids: Yazmin (13) and Nicklas (6).


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