“It didn’t make any sense. I was a fat Jewish kid from New York. I was the kid who was picked on in high school. I was the kid who didn’t play any sports. I was afraid of heights. What was I doing in the 82nd? I didn’t belong there.
But, I had a great squad leader. He made me realize I could actually do stuff by just doing it harder than anyone else. I realized that if I pushed myself hard enough I could be the same as the guy who grew up an athlete or the guy who was born to jump out of planes or the guy who grew up tough. I had to work harder than they did, but I could meet the same standards. In the end, being an All American Paratrooper was the best and the hardest thing I ever did. Every day I was in the 82nd was exhausting for me.
When I left the 82nd, I got back to New York City and was living in my folks basement. This was back in ‘96 when the internet was new. I didn’t really know anything about the internet but I saw there was opportunity. I said ‘I survived the 82nd, I can figure this out.’ I taught myself the internet. Then I taught myself IT. I got a job in downtown New York. I never planned to be in business for myself, but I did well at my first firm and thought ‘I can run all this myself.’ So, I started consulting for small businesses. Everything that I learned in the 82nd about paying attention to detail, about inspections, all of that came naturally to me and I kept growing in the business.
I started doing cybersecurity for energy companies. Then finance companies. I wanted to keep it small, but I found out my wife likes money [laughs]. So, I went to big companies and said ‘look, don’t just bring me on for consulting, outsource your entire IT infrastructure to me.’ I got a reputation and my company kept growing and growing. It still is. What I do is really cool but I’m finding that it’s only cool to people like me [laughs].”
Jonathan Schwam, 1992 - 1995, Sergeant. Mr. Schwam is the owner and principal architect of Core 82 Inc., an information technology consulting firm based in New York City. Mr. Schwam named his company after the core values of the 82nd Airborne Division that he applied to be a success. Mr. Schwam now uses his platform to hire All American Paratroopers departing military service.