Why did you choose to get an MBA?
I had seriously considered pursuing an MBA since my undergraduate days, and given the weak economy, it became evident that an MBA would help me achieve what I wanted to in the civilian world. My goal is to blend my business background and Marine experience by becoming an operations manager in a large nonprofit that works on domestic and international disaster relief.
How do a military background and MBA improve career prospects?
I’ve met recruiters who didn’t ask me to talk about my leadership background. They basically told me, “Oh, I see that you’re a former active-duty Marine, so we don’t have to worry about your leadership qualifications.” That’s almost half of what a lot of recruiters are looking for—your demonstrated ability to lead and manage.
As far as leveraging the MBA with that, I’m in a position to get the best of both worlds. I’m going to have the MBA credential, which is very specific to corporate America, but also management experience in high-stress situations that you can’t get outside the military.
Any advice for others?
Decide on career goals. Before you make the decision to get an MBA, know what you’re looking to get out of the degree. You have to really look at where you want to be in the next year, the next two years, and five and 10 years down the road to see if the MBA is the right avenue to get there.
Do not ever pass up a free education. Just by being on active duty, veterans automatically qualify for so many educational benefits that a majority don’t ever pursue. If somebody is going to pay to give you more knowledge, boost your qualifications, and make you more marketable, you really can’t beat that.