You’re about to transition out of the military and wondering what to do next. Many veterans leave the military with strong experience in operations work, and they can – and do – land civilian operations positions. However, you might want to switch to a different function entirely. Perhaps you would like the chance to learn and grow by trying something new.
MBA programs generally offer a range of focus areas, allowing their graduates to enter a variety of functional areas and industries. Earning an MBA will provide you with widely applicable professional skills, making your transition to a new career much smoother, not to mention financially enhanced.
Yes, obtaining an MBA generally results in a higher starting salary. The degree also improves the probability of future promotions. In 2021, the analyzed which master’s degrees resulted in the largest increases in earning. In the field of business administration and management, the average starting salary for someone with a bachelor’s degree was $54,392, while for someone with a master’s degree, it was $82,372. Add to that a bonus or other perks, such as stock options, and the difference becomes even more obvious.
Going to business school also greatly expands your network beyond current and former military personnel. You’ll connect with professionals across a variety of functions and industries and learn about jobs you never knew about before. Through the recruiting process, you’ll also learn how to network with many different kinds of people, a critical skill for navigating the civilian business world. You don’t have to network while in the military — the next promotion occurs according to the hierarchy.
Financing the MBA
What about the cost of an MBA? Depending on the length and nature of your service, several sources of financial support are available. Both the GI Bill and the Yellow Ribbon Program are possible funding sources for veterans. Most schools also have one or more scholarships specifically for military candidates, and some outside scholarships are also available, such as those provided by the Pat Tillman Foundation. The ROI for an MBA for a veteran is quite high.
Navigating the unknown territory of business school
What happens when you enroll? How can you find your way through all this unknown territory? Business schools are invested in your success: after all, it doesn’t help anyone if students drop out or don’t get a job. That is why most MBA programs have a number of support systems in place just for veterans. You’ll find veteran clubs that give members a place to network with fellow military personnel and get advice on recruiting challenges specific to veterans. The school’s registrar’s office or your faculty advisor can help you choose the courses that best fit your goals. Most critical for your ultimate success is career support, and each program’s career center staff helps students narrow down possible job options, update their resumés, and prepare for interviews. They will connect you with alumni who have similar backgrounds, teach you how to network effectively, and show you how to maneuver through career fairs. They are your partner throughout your two years in the program and beyond.
Getting hired without business experience
Civilian companies are actively looking to hire veterans. Why? Because they know that veterans bring strong leadership and teamwork skills, work well under pressure, are disciplined, and have experience working with a variety of people from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Veterans with MBAs are very desirable candidates for certain industries, including investment banking, consulting, and of course, defense contracting and aviation. Most companies have a specific division that actively recruits military candidates. Companies want veterans because they know these individuals are typically very mature, focused, and stable. The firms aren’t overly concerned with your level of firsthand business knowledge – you’ll get that in the MBA program and from the company’s own training program. There are many career conferences focused uniquely on veterans, such as the MBA Veterans Career Conference and Expo, and for veterans who attended one of the military academies, the Service Academy Career Conference.
Convinced? Let’s talk more about beginning your search for an MBA program that is right for you and what you need to start doing now. Contact Accepted, and we will help you navigate the path to your new civilian future.
Dr. Christie St-John has more than 25 years of higher ed and admissions experience, including ten years in admissions at Dartmouth Tuck. She was formerly the director of MBA recruiting and admissions, director of international relations, and an adjunct faculty member at Vanderbilt University. Having also served on the board of directors of the MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance and the Consortium for Graduate Studies in Management, Christie has a deep knowledge of MBA and other graduate admissions. Want Christie to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!
- Transitioning from the Military to an MBA at Stanford GSB, podcast Episode 471
- From US Military to IE MBA Student
- Five Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your MBA Application Essays, a free guide