Reasons You Should Consider an MBA as a VeteranUpdated: November 28, 2020
As veterans transition out of military service, many consider the education, career, and networking benefits provided by an MBA. And, in this article, we’ll outline seven key reasons why you should consider an MBA as a veteran.
Specifically, we’ll discuss the following:
- What is an MBA?
- Reason 1: Career Switch Assistance
- Reason 2: Larger Starting Salaries
- Reason 3: Improved Professional Networks
- Reason 4: Job Resources
- Reason 5: Veteran Clubs and Social Networks
- Reason 6: GI Bill Support
- Reason 7: Job Opportunities
- Final Thoughts
What Is An MBA?
Before addressing why veterans should consider an MBA, we need to first outline what an MBA actually is.
MBA stands for Master of Business Administration, and it’s a one- to two-year graduate degree that people interested in careers in business frequently pursue. More precisely, whether you’re interested in a stepping stone to a “C suite” job in a large corporation or following an entrepreneurial track, MBAs provide you a well-rounded education covering the primary skills necessary for success in the business world.
While every MBA program has its own unique approach, a typical business school curriculum includes the following core classes:
- Organizational behavior
- Business ethics
Additionally, many two-year MBA programs encourage students to participate in a summer internship with a business between the first and second years. These internships provide real world business experience and, for many students, result in a job offer following graduation.
Having outlined the above core characteristics, here are seven reasons why you should consider an MBA as a veteran.
Reason 1: Career Switch Assistance
Leaving the military, most veterans have a fair amount of experience in operations and project management – but little to no experience in the business world.
An MBA is designed to provide a breadth of instruction and business exposure to students, so it facilitates jobs in a wide variety of industries and positions. For veterans looking to switch from the operations or PM world into another business focus, an MBA program can provide the tools necessary to make that sort of career switch.
Reason 2: Larger Starting Salaries
In general, the higher your level of education, the larger your starting salary, and this certainly proves true in business. As a graduate degree, an MBA tells future employers that you have education and skills beyond those of peers with only an undergraduate degree.
This advantage translates to greater value for the business hiring you, which in turn translates to a larger starting salary. Put simply, businesses that want to hire top talent recognize that MBA programs provide this talent – and they’re willing to pay for it.
And, in addition to a larger starting salary, veterans with MBAs generally receive signing bonuses at their first post-MBA jobs.
Reason 3: Improved Professional Networks
While MBA programs certainly provide tremendous educational benefits to veterans, they provide equally outstanding professional networking benefits.
In any MBA program, your introductory seminar will include some variation on the following speech:
While at business school, studying is important, but networking with your classmates, professors, and career counselors is equally important. They’re the ones you’ll be working with for the rest of your professional lives.
Bottom line, MBA programs expose you to all sorts of people from all sorts of business backgrounds. And, this professional network not only assists with finding your first job after an MBA, it also serves as a resource you can rely on for your entire professional life.
Reason 4: Job Resources
Let’s face it – finding a job can be downright overwhelming. MBA programs have a vested interest in wanting you to find a job, as their success is largely measured on post-graduation job placement.
As a result, business schools have tremendous resources for finding jobs. While the names differ across programs, all business schools have some form of career assistance office. While not an all-inclusive list, these offices all offer variations on the following job-related support:
- Plan and host job fairs
- Provide career counseling
- Assist with the job application process
- Offer mock job interviews
- Assist with summer internship placement
Reason 5: Veteran Clubs and Social Networks
Especially for veterans who recently transitioned out of the military, acclimating to life in the civilian world can be challenging. MBA programs understand this reality, and most have some form of veteran club or social network to provide a support community within the business school.
These clubs provide veterans a comfortable – and familiar – environment to ask questions, bounce ideas of fellow veteran business students, deal with stress, or just chat with fellow vets.
Reason 6: GI Bill Support
For non-veterans, tuition represents a major stumbling block to pursuing an MBA. Veterans don’t have this problem, as the GI Bill provides an outstanding financing option for attending business school.
In addition to paying for tuition up to the in-state, public school maximum, many private MBA programs also participate in the Yellow Ribbon program, which bridges the gap between what the GI Bill will cover and the school’s actual tuition.
And, as another outstanding benefit, the GI Bill also includes a tax-free, monthly housing allowance – a cost-of-living-adjusted housing stipend – while enrolled in classes. This means that, during their MBA, veterans can focus on the actual MBA experience – not working a part-time job to pay for living expenses.
Reason 7: Job Opportunities
Veterans possess incredible “soft skills” from their time in the military (e.g. leadership, ability to work with teams, staying calm in stressful situations, etc), and these traits make veterans extremely desirable to businesses.
However, most companies also recognize that, despite possessing the above skills, most veterans lack business-specific knowledge and experience. As such, an MBA connects the dots – it allows veterans to combine their soft skills with a well-rounded business education, making them outstanding job candidates.
And, many large corporations now have specific departments focused on recruiting and developing these veteran MBA graduates, as they understand the value these vets bring to the team.
An MBA isn’t for everyone. But, as the above article illustrates, for veterans transitioning out of military service, pursuing an MBA can be an outstanding path into a rewarding career in business.
If you’re considering this path, we recommend reaching out to a veterans club at a business school to talk with fellow veterans about whether an MBA makes sense for you.
Maurice “Chipp” Naylon spent nine years as an infantry officer in the Marine Corps. He is currently a licensed CPA specializing in real estate development and accounting.