SBC Scoop: From Active Service to MBA Application

*Please note that no client details are ever shared in SBC Scoop or otherwise without complete sign off from client.

Anthony was about to wrap up his first career as an officer in the Army and wanted to apply to MBA programs as his next step. He was worried about exactly how to make the transition and how to make his military experience fit into his application, and worked closely with his Stacy Blackman consultant to answer his questions.

First off, Anthony had to put away some unfounded worries. In his research he found that he was already several years older than the typical MBA candidate, and in fact older than the high end listed in a few programs’ data! His consultant assured him admissions departments would be well aware of the fixed length of military service, and consider him equally among typically younger applicants. He was also concerned that his experience as an infantry officer would be very different from the typical background of an MBA applicant in a field such as finance. His consultant helped him to look at his background the other way around- as a unique and positive experience, and one that involves leadership and responsibility roles well beyond those entrusted to a typical applicant. They also discussed that there would likely be other applicants with military experience at larger programs, and how to highlight his own particular experience.

Since Anthony was coming directly from active duty, he had formulated a goal for his post-MBA career, but hadn’t yet had much time to research good school fits. He’d heard of the top programs, but with a middle-of-the-pack GMAT score, his consultant urged him to expand his scope, retake the test, and at the same time take a special look into particularly military-friendly programs like Fuqua. She also encouraged Anthony to reach out across his military network- though his close contacts were not considering business school, by talking to other officers and their families he ended up in touch with several recent veterans now in MBA programs.

With a list of several hand-selected schools plus his favorite top program ready, Anthony and his consultant gave a special polish to his application. First, they scoured his resume for military acronyms and jargon that were second nature to Anthony, but might sail right past an admissions officer. Second, they walked through the process of coaching his recommenders on what to include in recommendation letters- since Anthony was asking his superior officer for a letter, this was a bit a of a reversal of their usual roles. Finally, since it had been years since Anthony had gone through a “civilian” interview rather than a formal military evaluation, they ran through a few mock interviews to make him comfortable.

Athough Anthony kept HBS on his list as a “stretch,” his impressive background netted him an offer of admission, which he happily accepted.

Do you have your own concerns about applying to an MBA program this year? Contact us to request a free consultation with one of our expert consultants.

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