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How the Military Prepared Me for B-School

Army Swearing In


I chose to pursue an MBA as a way to transition my career from military to business.

Name: Jason Defoor, US Army 

Education: Owen Graduate School of Management, Vanderbilt University


Why did you choose to get an MBA?

I chose to pursue an MBA because I’ve always had an interest in business and it seemed like the perfect career transition between a military and business career. After exiting the military, I knew that I wanted to begin a career in business management, but I had only a vague idea of what type of management role or industry that I wanted to pursue. Additionally, while my undergraduate degree covered business concepts, that material was dated. I knew that my undergraduate education and military experience would be attractive to some employers, but I also knew that an MBA from a highly respected program would increase my value to future employers. During my search, I discovered the Owen Graduate School of Management. It was an exceptional program and maintained a very welcoming stance toward military candidates.  It was a great fit, and has paid dividends throughout my time here.

How has your military background plus MBA improved your career prospects?

The military prepared me for the GMAT by requiring daily use of sound analytical and communication skills. Performing well under stress was another key experience that helped with the test-taking portion of the GMAT. In the MBA program, I’d say dealing with ambiguity, decision-making skills, hard work ethic, communicating to a wide variety of audiences, and leadership skills all helped prepare me for the experience. Making decisions in ambiguous situations definitely helped with course and group work projects in an academic setting and will help as I move forward into a business career. Hard work ethic and communications skills help in all areas of life, but definitely helped with the demands of both academic requirements, networking, and a career search. My leadership skills helped me to lead group work, allowed me to take a step back and learn from others, and will obviously help me in my future career progression. 

Any advice for others?

I would advise them to remain open to new lessons, experiences, and possible career paths. Everyone has an idea of what they want out of these types of experiences, but sometimes the best options are things that you never planned on. If I could offer a second piece of advice, I would recommend they choose a school that gives them career networking/recruiting access to the industry they desire and is highly respected (ranked highly) to ensure that employers will value their education.