Using the MBA as the Best Military Transition Tool Available

Apr 24, 2014
Tags: B-School, Career

David SamuelSubmitted by David Samuel, former Commanding Officer, US Marine Corps, MBA candidate at the University of San Diego, and consultant at Samuel, Ellison & Co.

I am often asked, “Why did you choose the MBA after 10 years as an officer in the Marine Corps?” I believe that most veterans can agree that there is concern among us about how transferable our military occupational specialty (MOS) is to the civilian workforce. Additionally, a lot of veterans might also feel that the transition is rarely as smooth as they would like because parent commands offer the time and support required to find a transitioning member’s next career, but rarely follow through because the mission of the unit always comes first.

As anyone in the workforce can tell you, finding a job is all about networking. The odds of getting interviews for positions a transitioning service member is interested in are statistically higher when that person has met people inside that organization. Again, how does a veteran network when they still have responsibility to their parent command?

Why an MBA Is a Perfect Career Transitioning Option for a Veteran

You may be wondering what this has to do with an MBA. These two scenarios are precisely why an MBA is a perfect career transitioning option for a veteran. If you are a service member contemplating a transition and you share these concerns, think of the MBA as a two-year transition assistance program. Not only will you learn the hard business skills like accounting, finance, and statistics, but you will also learn valuable professional development lessons as you ease back into civilian life just by interacting with your new peer group. Additionally, MBA programs are action-oriented in promoting the success of their program’s ability to place their graduates in competitive firms.

This translates to a strong support network for veterans that provides numerous opportunities in the form of career fairs, professional network symposia, case competitions, graduate student clubs, and guest speaker series that all provide enhanced networking opportunities for the MBA student.

With the MBA training, veterans can add the final polish to their competitive resume of selfless service. Veterans are in demand and businesses are always looking for those of us that have been in leadership positions where we had to do less with more over sustained periods in austere environments. That kind of experience cannot be replicated in the civilian sector. Cap those experiences off with an MBA while concurrently networking throughout the MBA curriculum is a recipe for success.

The MBA is academically challenging, as it should be. But like most challenges, veterans are happy to accept and raise the bar. If transitioning is something that you are considering but have reservations about the large gap between working in the military and working in corporate America, consider the MBA as a transition option. 

Learn more about advancing or transitioning your military career with an MBA