As a veteran, you have made sacrifices for the sake of your nation; now, you deserve to do something for yourself. Education is one of the biggest gifts you can give yourself — and it promises to ease your transition into a fulfilling civilian life. As such, the question shouldn’t be whether to return to school once finished with active duty, but rather, what to study and when.
There are many excellent degrees worth pursuing at this point, and no one path is ideal for every veteran. A lot depends on your experience in the armed forces and your plans moving forward. Your prior education matters, too. Don’t assume you’re finished with higher education simply because you’ve already obtained your bachelor’s. A graduate-level degree could help you take a major step up in your career while also providing a considerable boost in personal confidence.
As a veteran, you have already demonstrated your leadership potential. Now, you can take this to the next level with a post-military MBA. A Master of Business Administration is a fantastic opportunity for veterans with big ambitions for the civilian world. Not sure if it’s right for you? Keep reading to discover the value of the post-military MBA and why an online MBA for veterans is such a wise choice.
Why Earn an MBA After Military Service?
There are many reasons to earn an MBA, and most typically cited advantages ring true for veterans. From networking to job opportunities and, of course, the sheer joy of learning, there is much to be gained from an MBA regardless of your background. While post-military MBA students and civilian students often highlight similar reasons for pursuing this highly respected graduate degree, your status as a veteran will almost certainly amplify the program’s already impressive benefits.
Transitioning to the Private Sector
Military culture operates on a whole different wavelength from the private sector. In the civilian world — and especially among private enterprises — everyday interactions tend to be more nuanced and, from the veteran’s perspective, potentially difficult to navigate. Greetings or habits that seemed second-nature in the military may appear odd or confusing to strictly civilian professionals.
As you take your next step in the workforce, you may need to learn how to distinguish the valuable components of your military background from the aspects affecting your personal mindset or demeanor that might occasionally stand in the way. Think of the MBA as a study of civilian behavior, allowing you to observe and practice expected workplace rituals before you actually enter a corporate environment.
The good news? Your background as a veteran also gives you a huge leg up over other MBA candidates. By now, you should have a wealth of experience in decision-making and crisis management, plus a level of global awareness that can take years (or decades) for civilian professionals to acquire. With a few new skills and an increased awareness of dynamics in the private sector, you could eventually find it easy to leverage your military background to make your mark in a corporate capacity.
Benefits of an Online MBA for Veterans
The benefits of an MBA are readily evident in a wide range of situations and scenarios. This degree always looks impressive on a resume and is a solid fit for professional networking and leadership skill development. From a veteran’s perspective, however, the MBA is a uniquely compelling opportunity to gain new skills and adapt to the private sector. Reasons to gain an MBA for military members (or veterans) include:
A veteran is frequently an appealing hire, but they are even more so to employers when equipped with in-demand competencies known as soft skills. MBA programs emphasize essentials such as effective communication, critical thinking, creativity, and empathy. These skills are inherently transferable, so they can provide a lifetime of value for veteran MBA graduates.
Other skills, though more technical, are beneficial across many sectors as well. Basic accounting topics, for example, come into play in numerous fields and can also prove valuable for entrepreneurial-minded students. Similarly, you will almost certainly see economic principles such as game theory or contract theory play out, no matter where you end up in the private sector.
During your time in the armed forces, you likely developed a very specific skill set. Although many of your skills could transition wonderfully to the professional world, others may be lacking entirely.
An MBA encourages you to diversify your skill set and address any gaps that may have broadened during your time on active duty. You will get the chance to develop in-demand skills including data analytics, valuation techniques, and statistical decision models. Your skill set can be further expanded through elective courses that delve into everything from data mining to health informatics.
In the business world, a common cliche rings true: There is value in not only what you know but also who you know. While veterans emerge with countless powerful connections, these may not be sufficient for making an easy shift into management-level positions. That’s why MBA programs offer endless opportunities to connect with tomorrow’s most impactful leaders.
Professors and advisors are a core part of this equation, but the most understated advantages come from fellow MBA students — highly passionate individuals who are eager to make their mark. These students can be a wonderful source of inspiration and help form the foundation of a powerful professional network that pays off long after graduation.
Broadened Career Prospects
It is natural for veterans to feel overwhelmed or out of touch as they strive to find their place in the civilian world. Many worry that their targeted skill sets and limited professional contacts will force them into narrow career paths that might not reflect their long-term objectives. However, MBA programs can open a world of possibilities, allowing veterans to shift their career trajectories to reflect their emerging skills or passions.
Career prospects stem, in part, from the respect that an MBA automatically commands. Forté Foundation CEO Elissa Sangster tells U.S. News & World Report, “There’s nothing about getting an MBA that doesn’t require initiative from that point all the way through your career.” Employers recognize this need for initiative and clearly value the drive demonstrated by MBA graduates from all walks of life.
Veterans are the ultimate leaders, yet some find it difficult to transition their leadership skills into the civilian workforce. MBA programs help make this leap while also providing further insight into the most effective leadership strategies and styles. Perhaps most valuable? The program’s deep dive into organizational behavior theory, which reveals the unique dynamics of different types of organizations. This newfound understanding can help develop positive leadership qualities.
Not all veterans aspire to work for major corporations or government entities. Some prefer to carve out their own path as entrepreneurs. This can be an exciting opportunity, but there is a great deal of risk involved, especially for veterans with limited experience in the private sector.
MBA programs equip students with in-depth insight into complex business topics that entrepreneurs would otherwise have to learn through the school of hard knocks. From financial management to accounting and even business ethics, a concerted effort to become a well-rounded professional helps aspiring business leaders leverage opportunities while ensuring they avoid common entrepreneurial mistakes.
Increased Earning Potential
Research from the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) makes it abundantly clear: Higher earnings are not only a priority among aspiring MBA students but also well within reach upon completing an MBA program. GMAC data reveals that, while median wages for graduates with bachelor’s degrees rests around $55,000 annually, MBA graduates receive an impressive median base salary of $115,000. Additionally, substantial raises or promotions are possible after acquiring just a few years of experience in a management capacity.
Cultural adaptation involves a process of learning about and adjusting to a different culture or environment, where unspoken rules and everyday conduct may differ considerably from that observed in other settings. Veterans experience cultural adaptation no matter where they go or what field they enter, as this is an expected part of transitioning to the civilian world.
Not all environments offer adequate support for veterans as they deal with the challenges of cultural adaptation. With an MBA after military service, however, support for veterans may be directly built into the programs, not to mention a thorough study of global entrepreneurship and other cultural topics.
Personal enrichment is always worth seeking, and as a veteran, you have more than earned the ability to invest in and reward yourself following years of sacrifice. Upon graduating, you will likely discover a newfound sense of pride and accomplishment, which you can draw upon for motivation as you undertake various personal and professional endeavors.
Financial opportunities abound for veterans pursuing their post-military MBAs. Many are specifically developed with the needs of veterans in mind. The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides valuable assistance that can be applied toward MBA tuition. These benefits can be amplified by the Yellow Ribbon program, available to veterans who have served 36 months on active duty.
In addition to these military and veteran-oriented benefits, there remains a strong possibility to gain financial support through a myriad of scholarship and grant programs or even employer assistance. This allows veteran grad students to focus more on their studies and hit the ground running upon graduating.
The Flexibility and Adaptability of an Online MBA Program
Veterans are well-suited to online MBA programs, which grant a much-needed element of flexibility to facilitate a smoother transition to the civilian world. Online programs allow students of all types to study at their own pace and as they see fit while making it easier to juggle ongoing work and family obligations. Online MBA programs can also be surprisingly versatile, with many electives and concentrations available to online students with particular career or educational goals. What’s more, it is possible to complete an online MBA on a part-time basis — making this program even more amenable to today’s busy working students.
The adaptability of an online MBA for veterans need not diminish the degree’s practical value. The skill-building benefits of the MBA carry through to its online version, as do powerful networking and leadership opportunities.
Earn a Post-Military MBA at UTC
Ready to take the next step in your career while making a seamless transition to civilian life and the private sector? Look to UTC’s Rollins College of Business for the most compelling and accessible opportunities to further your education. At UTC, we are pleased to offer a 100 percent online Master of Business Administration, plus valued support for veterans. We invite you to get in touch today for more information.