March 31, 2017, by David McCauley – There’s a particular brand of leadership that you’re taught in the military, and it originates with hands-on learning. Veterans specialize in leading teams in real-world situations as well as managing complex projects under pressure. That military experience, combined with a four-year degree, grants confidence and skills that should put you ahead of your peers, but corporate recruiters don’t always understand how those skills translate to meeting the needs of their company or client. It’s up to you to demonstrate how your knowledge and skills apply. If you want to escalate your career post-military service, consider pursuing a Master’s in Business Administration.
There are typically two reasons a civilian would choose to attend business school: to improve an existing skillset or to change career paths. Military candidates in transition from the service are unique in that they are seeking both. Think of this like an advanced training school – you’re enabling yourself to succeed by pursuing more education to complement your existing experience.
Take stock of and embrace your strengths if you want to make the most of your business career. Many veterans discover how challenging it is to find work after transitioning into the civilian workforce, but the traits and skills you gained make you an attractive candidate to business schools and eventually recruiters.
The typical full-time MBA program lasts about two years and is preceded by the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). This is where your skills and qualifications are assessed to help determine your suitability as an MBA candidate. The GMAT consists of an analytical writing assignment, integrated reasoning test, quantitative test, and verbal exam.
Significant study and preparation are necessary to succeed, just as you likely discovered in your military training schools and previous four-year degree program. Veterans are taught to think on their feet and take decisive action – use this to plan ahead and perform under pressure.
As an MBA student, you can expect to learn the intricacies of managing a business, sharpen your leadership skills, and discover real-world applications of your military experiences. Only you can determine if an MBA is right for you, yet there are ironclad career advantages to pursuing it. The military teaches strong leadership and management skills already, and you can take those to the next level with a business degree. Veterans have a long history of building and running businesses in the United States, and you too can join their ranks.
Undertaking a master’s program might seem unaffordable, but the Yellow Ribbon Program helps veterans attend MBA programs that might otherwise be prohibitively expensive. The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill is useful for paying tuition and fees, but some schools and programs might exceed the maximum allowed for private or public schools as a nonresident student. The Yellow Ribbon Program allows universities to enter into an agreement with the Department of Veterans Affairs to make additional funds available towards your program without additional charges to your G.I. Bill entitlement. The institution can contribute up to half of the expenses, and the VA will match that amount.
If you’re a veteran who already has a four-year degree and want to take charge of your career trajectory, pursuing an MBA is a great option. Educational benefits and assistance are available to you even when pursuing a Master’s in Business Administration. Take stock of your strengths and press forward in confidence knowing that you’re making the most of your hard-earned skills as a veteran.
About the Author: D.M. McCauley is a former U.S. Navy sailor who worked in Intel. After the service, he has dedicated his time to writing and traveling with his significant other.