A growing number of military officers planning to leave the armed services realize that a business school education offers them compelling benefits that can last a lifetime:
• Accelerated business knowledge
Many occupational specialties (e.g., infantry, armor, nuclear warfare) in the military have no parallel job in the private sector. So, officers who want future business careers need to climb the learning curve rapidly. While large corporations offer training and rotational programs for vets, an MBA education provides a faster and more comprehensive immersion in the world of business.
• Expanded professional network
Officers who joined the armed services while in their early 20s find that their current network is limited primarily to old college friends and fellow military personnel. Establishing and growing a business career requires a broader set of allies and resources that is found only at a top b-school.
• Exploration of future opportunities
In transitioning to the private sector, military applicants may have several career options in mind but no direct understanding of various industries, functions and roles. MBA case studies, career services resources, summer internships, alumni mentors, and recruiter presentations are just some of the ways that these future CEOs can explore and sample the possibilities at no risk.
• Smooth and structured transition into civilian life
Military life instills a mindset and communication style that can be quite different from civilian life. Through participation in a wide range of student clubs, group projects and social events, military MBA students expand their perspectives and build relationships that will help make this dramatic change more satisfying and enjoyable.
At the same time, MBA admissions committees find that military applicants offer added value to their classmates and to the program itself. Attributes that help make military applicants so attractive to b-schools include the following:
• Leadership: Military officers have been thoroughly trained in how to lead subordinates. Guiding others to achieve tangible impact is an attribute that most of their civilian counterparts don’t get the chance to develop prior to business school.
• Understanding diversity: Officers interact daily with fellow military personnel from every conceivable culture and socio-economic group. Furthermore, they have had lengthy overseas deployments where understanding the values, beliefs and customs of the local population is essential.
• Problem solving under pressure: Making real-time decisions with limited information — literally and figuratively — under fire has been an everyday occurrence for most military MBAs. This high level of self-confidence, accountability and maturity is unmatched by most civilian applicants.
• Confirmed ethics and integrity: The Oath of Enlistment embodies the standards by which military officers do their jobs and live their lives. Raising one’s right hand and swearing ‘to support and defend the Constitution of the United States’ confirms the values and priorities of the individual making that pledge. As role models for ethical behavior, ex-military students can influence their classmates to make more thoughtful business decisions in the future.
With several ex-military officers – including graduates of West Point and Annapolis – on our consulting team, The MBA Exchange is standing by to help armed services veterans to launch their business school admissions campaigns starting with a free evaluation.