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I'm a college senior at Yale. Humanities major. In the past, I thought I wanted to go to law school but I changed my mind and now want to attend b-school after going through the application process for Harvard 2+2 and getting denied after an interview. But I'm not sure exactly what field I want to go into long term whether it be marketing, IB, general management or something else. I thought business school would help me make that decision. I currently have an interview invite from a top 12 school, but I don't know if it's worth making the trip to their campus considering all the advice I've read about MBAs with no work experience having a tough time in the job market. At this point, I'm strongly considering becoming an officer in the army through officer candidate school because most of my family has been in the military and I know its respected work experience in the eyes of business school admissions officers. However, what type of clout does military experience have on say wall street if I were to get an MBA after 4 years or so in the military then seek a job there? Thanks for any advice you have.
You're definitely in an interesting situation. Speaking from my own experience, out of undergrad my parents wanted me to immediately go back to school and pursue an MBA. My heart wasn't in it, and if I applied it would have been for the wrong reasons, so I didn't. I did end up taking the GMAT, both to appease them, but also because my schedule was free and i was still in the academic mindset to study (+ your score is good for 5 years).
Long story short though, I worked and developed my own side business for the next four years. I truly feel that experiences and struggles I've gone through over the past 4 years have better prepared me for bschool, not just from the business aspect, but interpersonal skills you gain from working with colleagues.
I think if you're not 100% sure about it right now, there's no harm in coming back to the decision a few years from now.
I work at a very well respected ibank. Almost monthly, I see a large crowd of young people dressed in military attire taking a tour of our trading floor, and my impression is that the bank invites them. The bank specifically recruits these people, or at least tries to brand itself well with them. That said, you would probably be best off if you went to get an MBA prior to looking for your job. Business schools love military experience, so that shouldn't be a problem.
If you join the military, do it for the right reasons. Just don't try to become an officer as a positioning move. It's a hard life. Are you ready to die to impress an Admissions Committee? Seriously. This is coming from a Marine.
"At this point, I'm strongly considering becoming an officer in the army through officer candidate school because most of my family has been in the military and I know its respected work experience in the eyes of business school admissions officers. However, what type of clout does military experience have on say wall street if I were to get an MBA after 4 years or so in the military then seek a job there? Thanks for any advice you have. "
I strongly agree with Piggles here. The life of a military officer is very hard and much more complicated than you might expect.
We have a completely different set of technical and tactical skills such as navigation, marksmanship, radio communications, the military decision-making process etc. I have known people think they just walk in, become an officer, and order people around.
That is not the case, as piggles said, if you do not have your heart in it - not only could you die but you could also get some of the best people in our country killed, jack up an important mission, or kill civilians.
Also there are a number of specialties, and just like business school, so you would need an idea of what path to take. In the Army you could be assigned to Armor, Air Defense, Chemical, Infantry (my branch), Logistics, Military Intelligence, Military Police, Aviation, Ordnance, Personnel, etc.
Each branch has its own culture, duties, and responsibilities, and you will gain different skill sets from each. Some are very dangerous - Infantry, Armor, some more technical - MI, Logistics etc, some incur longer committments - Aviation
OCS will mean you go to basic training, then OCS, then your branch specialty school, this will take roughly 6-8 months (depending on your branch) and it will not be a one-stop model. be prepared to be far from home with little free time and staring down a tour in Afghanistan. You will do 3 years in exchange for an OCS commission which will likely equate to one 12-15 month deployment.
As far as networking, it really depends, the veteran network is tight. I know my West Point network, as well as the other service Academy networks are well-established on Wall Street. I am sure the same can be said of strong ROTC programs.
OCS fills its ranks from alot more "career-changers", enlisted Soldiers or Sergeants with potential, etc versus the more academic type commission sources like ROTC and Service Academies.
Either way, think long and hard about this and do your due diligence.
Pick up "One Bullet Away" by Nate Fick if you want to read a pretty good account of a somewhat naive Ivy Leaguer deciding to become a Marine Officer.
As others have said, don't join the military if you're just doing it to impress an AdCom down the road. The Marines/soldiers/sailors you'll lead deserve better than that. And you'll probably find yourself pretty miserable pretty quickly.
But to answer your original question, yes, military service is viewed favorably by AdComs and top firms...assuming you have a strong service record. Joining for the wrong reasons and subsequently being miserable are unlikely to result in a strong record. Former military guys/girls are heavily represented in management consulting and finance in particular.
I think I came off a little too harsh earlier. Your family has military experience, so you may have some idea of what you're getting into. However, my original statement still stands.
Just remember, business school isn't an end, it's a means to an end. Your goal probably isn't HBS, it's the opportunities that will open up because you attended HBS.
It seems like you want to go into some type of finance, marketing, general management field eventually, so why not try to join one of the corporate management rotation programs. It will give you exposure to several functional areas and give you a feel for what you might enjoy. If you hate it, you can always try to find something else.
That last part is something I found very difficult about the military. You can't just walk away if it's a bad fit for you. There was a certain point in OCS where we were allowed to quit with no negative ramifications, but OCS doesn't give you a feel for actual military life or the lifestyle of an officer. By the time you finish OCS and whatever follow-on training the Army gives you, you can't walk away anymore.
The military isn't a good fit for everyone. Personally, I find the enormous bureaucracy absolutely suffocating, and knew it as soon as I hit the fleet. Unfortunately, I still had six years of commitment left. Think about what you want out of life and make a decision based on that, not what may impress someone else.
Re: MBA advice needed
09 Feb 2011, 09:02