Whether going to school or working for a company, an important component to success is fitting in – feeling like you belong there. If the school or business is veteran-friendly, you will feel like you are “part of the family” – just like when you were serving. Others around you will understand the military lingo that you still use. They can relate to your experiences when you need someone to talk to. And if you have this comfort level, you will do better in your coursework or at your job. Even though the MBA program or job may seem like a perfect fit in the beginning, you’ll soon question if you made the right choice or not if that veteran friendliness is lacking.
Retired Supervisor of Military Personnel Services
Ron Kness retired from the military with 36 years of service. His assignment as supervisor of military personnel services (including the education benefits section) provided him with a wealth of knowledge, training and experience with the GI Bills and post-secondary education in general. His last assignment was the 34th Infantry (Red Bull) Division Command Sergeant Major/E-9.
Choosing an MBA degree program is an important educational and career decision. After all, an advanced degree serves as a key to career advancement – with the company, position and experience being other factors. Just the difference in starting wage between having an undergraduate and MBA degree is significant – $54,000 versus $70,000 (minimum) respectively. Graduates from the top MBA programs start at six figures right out of school. Run the salary difference between the two types of degrees out over a 30-year career and the number is staggering.
But before making that kind of money is possible, the first mission is choosing an MBA program. While only you can make the final choice, here is a thought-provoking checklist to help you arrive at a decision.
Once out of the military, veterans miss the comradery. Schools having a veterans’ association on campus not only gives veterans a place to meet, but gives the school administration ideas on how to make a veteran’s experience better while at their school.
Many veteran students are also stay-at-home dads, struggle with PTSD or just like the flexibility of being able to study whenever the time fits into their busy schedule, so their MBA program being offered online can be a deciding factor. More and more, schools are offering the same MBA program both on-campus and online … even the curriculum the same.
This can be a true indicator of just how much a school supports veterans. If they support an unlimited number of graduate students with a maximum contribution of at least $9,000 or more per year per student, they have a great Yellow Ribbon Program. It actually ends up being twice that amount because the VA will match whatever contribution the school provides – in effect doubling the amount. However to use the Yellow Program, the student must also be using the Post 9/11 GI Bill, which includes paid tuition up to the resident amount, housing allowance and book stipend.
While cost won’t be as much of an issue if attending a public school under the Post 9/11 GI Bill or a private school under the same GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon program, it is a primary consideration if not using either. While going the cheapest route is not always a good decision, going the most expensive may not be either; choose an education route that will get you the best education that you can use to reach your career goal. MBA cost is one area where it pays to shop around. Many schools have their own tuition assistance programs for veterans that can help bring down the amount of out-of-pocket costs.
Some of the for-profit schools were in the news lately where graduates found out their school’s accreditation was not recognized by their chosen career field. Not only did it cost a lot of money to get their degree, but it was not of any value as far as getting the job they wanted. Generally speaking, regional accreditations are more widely recognized that national ones.
Periodically organizations such as G.I.Jobs.com rate schools according to how they treat their veteran students. Does the school you are looking at have any military-friendly distinctions, honors or awards?
For veterans having entitlement left from their Post 9/11 GI Bill, this can be a major source of MBA funding. When shopping for schools, check the Weam’s School Search to see if the MBA program is in the school’s list of programs; double check by asking the question when visiting the school.
With this GI Bill, the VA pays the school directly up to the resident tuition cost and eligible fees. Monthly, students receive a housing allowance determined by the zip code of the school and number of credits taken. Also students receive up to $1,000 per academic year in a book stipend.
One housing allowance difference to be aware of is for students taking all online courses. In this case, students are limited to about half of what they would get if attending on campus classes. One loophole that still exists is to take one class per semester that can be applied to your degree plan (and the rest of your credits that semester can be all online) and get the increased housing amount.
To be eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program, students must use the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Under this program, the school declares in an agreement with the VA how much they will waiver in tuition. Also in that agreement, they declare how many students they will accept into their YRP each year, the degree levels covered and the maximum contribution per student. The VA pledges to pay an equal contributed amount.
The Weam’s School Search shows on the first page if the school is a Yellow Ribbon School or not, or go to the VA’s Yellow Ribbon School website and search out the school in question for the information, such as how many students they accept, maximum student contribution and degree levels covered.
Even though students may use the GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program, it may not be enough to fully pay school costs. In many cases, scholarships fill in some of the difference. Note there are two types of scholarships – ones that have to be applied towards tuition and others that do not. While all scholarships can be blessings, ones that have to be applied towards tuition don’t increase the amount of money to spend if using the Post 9/11 GI Bill; because the VA is the last payer when other sources of financial aid are concerned, it just reduces the amount the VA has to pay on your behalf, but doesn’t lower the amount of entitlement used. However, scholarships that can be used for anything don’t affect the VA payment. Many schools offer their own tuition assistance, which is usually, applied to the tuition costs, however some schools put the amount into an account for the student to use on campus to buy books, food, etc.
A list of potential resources that provide scholarships and grants for business students at various degree levels.Expartus
A consulting firm prepping MBA candidates for the application process.Factors to Consider When Choosing a School
The VA’s comprehensive guide on information prospective students should know before committing their GI Bill benefits to a degree program.Free Application for Federal Student Aid
FAFSA is the place to start in many cases when searching for education student aid. Submitting an application returns a list of student aid available.GI Bill Benefits Comparison Tool
A new tool from the VA that helps show what a student can expect the Post 9/11 GI Bill to pay in tuition, housing and book stipend.GI Bill Resident Rate Requirements
Updated information on the Choice Act, as far as schools giving non-resident veterans (and dependents using GI Bill benefits) within three years of discharge the resident tuition rate.Graduate Admissions Checklist for Berkeley College
A list of good information as far as what this college requires to apply to graduate school. Most schools will have similar requirements.How Do I Pay for Business School?
A tool from GMAT that shows prospective MBA students how past students paid for their MBA degree.How to Pay for Your MBA
A guide to help find and access resources to help fund an MBA degree.MBA for Veterans
Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University and why it is a great degree program for veterans.MBA Resources for Your Post-Military Career
A list of tips on what to do before and during the application process to make applying for an MBA program easier and more efficient.Military to MBA
An article with tips to make the transition from soldier to student easier.Military MBA
An information resource that helps veterans choose the right MBA program and school.Online Master’s Degree in Business Administration
A guide to the best online MBA programs available.Question to Ask When Choosing a College
From the Federal Trade Commission, a guide to better help students choose schools with a special section for veterans.Student Veterans of America
A list of the current chapters and where they are located. Useful to know if a school has a chapter or not as it can be a great source of support.University of Miami School of Business Administration
An MBS comparison chart allowing prospective students to compare all of the different options and make the right choice.University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business
An explanation of Ross’ MBA program, their ranking and some interesting facts about MBA program graduates.
With an MBA in hand, it’s time to start looking for a job. Not only is a degree valuable, but so are the skills learned while serving. Employers know what veterans bring to the table and that gives them a leg-up on other recent MBA graduates not having the military experience and training.
As you begin your job search, think about what employees want in a company. Most likely they want to work for a company that will use their education and training not only to their benefit, but the employees too. One good place to start looking is the list of 2016 Military Friendly Employers. Why do these companies make the list? There are several reason, but here are six most veterans consider important when looking for a job at a military-friendly company.
Truly military friendly companies hire a lot of veterans. They know the value of hiring a military professional with the training and experience in the “soft skills” like organization, leadership, managing, attention-to-detail and teamwork. Veterans assimilate into a new work environment better when they are around other veterans. Many of these companies have veterans at the top of the company.
The top military-friendly companies have recruiting strategies in place that take them where the people are that are looking for jobs, namely job fairs on military installations and college campuses. And while many of those companies also use job boards, such as HireVetsFirst.gov, and social media like LinkedIn, that initial face-to-face meeting can result in a better job faster.
Find out if the company supports any veteran or military causes (without all the fanfare). Companies that are true military supporters quietly identify with and support a few key veteran or military causes without expecting anything in return.
Companies that are military friendly know the value of a veteran and the skills they bring to the table. Good companies will take advantage of leadership and team building skills when looking at job placement. They are not going to put a talented employee behind a machine doing the same thing day after day.
Hiring a large number of veterans is one thing, but keeping them can be another. Another indicator is what percentage of veteran new hires stay more than one year. If that percentage is low, it is an indicator that the company may not be as military friendly as it touts itself to be. Ask to talk to other seasoned veterans in the company and ask what they like (and dislike) working there.
Do you remember the first day at Basic Training? Getting off the bus and not knowing anyone else? A veteran-friendly company doesn’t let that happen. Most veteran-friendly companies’ pair new veteran hires with seasoned employees who happen to also be veterans. Having that mentorship makes the transition go much smoother and tends to lend a “family” feeling to the company.
Veterans with MBAs tend to go into certain areas within the career sector. Besides business, many gravitate toward technology and finance.
Because of the complexity of today’s military equipment, veterans are coming out of the military with technology training that would otherwise cost a company thousands of dollars if they had to train that individual. High growth Internet Technology (IT) jobs like consulting or program management are good fits for veterans with MBAs.
Businesses like Citi, Barclay and JP Morgan all scramble to hire veterans with MBAs in the finance industry. Veterans can be trusted to make ethical decisions and have a knack of building trust with customers, let alone their impeccable appearance.
Hamilton has been serving military clients since they first began in 1940. They are one of the few companies to employ a full-time recruiting staff taking their message to job fairs, webinars and working LinkedIn for potential hires.
As a government contractor, this company provides tools and training to defense and intelligence customers and in many cases work side-by-side with active duty personnel. They currently employ 3,984 veterans and started the Veteran Support, Diversity and Inclusion (VSI) office to develop training programs to connect newly-hired veterans and the rest of the company.
Ranked as #1 on the 2015 Top 100 Military Friendly Employer list, Combined provides a holistic support through military-focused hiring, training, development, leadership, mentoring and community involvement. Thirty-nine percent of their new hires are veterans.
This long-term financial advisory company has a goal of hiring 20,000 veterans as financial advisors by 2020. They also have a first-of-its-kind training and mentoring program for veteran hires.
GE consistently shows up on the G.I. Jobs Top 100 Military Friendly Employer lists. Currently employing over 10,000 veterans, they also host a transition assistance workshop to help veterans translate military skills to the civilian workplace.
Recipient of the 2014 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, PNC works internally to support veteran employees with its Military Employee Business Resource Group (MEBRG) and externally through strategic partnerships like Soldier for Life.
With over 50% of their new hires in the last five years being veterans, they know what former military personnel bring to the table – technical experience, discipline and a work ethic seldom found in the civilian world. As a contractor, they depend on veteran hires to staff their aerospace and other government contract or assignments that require technical expertise.
Since 2006, USAA has hired 8,700 veterans and military spouses. One technology tool they recently unveiled is the Employer Road Map. It provides a slew of best hiring practices for other companies to use with the end goal of bridging the gap between veterans and hiring managers. They take their slogan “We know what it means to serve.” very serious.
With a goal of hiring 200,000 veterans by 2020, Walmart is on track to hit the 100,000 mark this year. Of the career hires, over 8,000 have already been promoted within the company over the last two years.
This year Walmart and 14 other organizations created the Coalition for Veteran Owned Business to provide opportunities to connect veteran and military-family businesses with American supply chains.
Walt Disney started their Heroes Work Here (HWH) recruitment initiative in 2012 with a goal of hiring 1,000 veterans by 2015. As of March 2015, they have offered jobs to over 5,000 veterans. To take it one step further in 2014 they established the Disney Veterans Institute to train other companies how to hire veterans.
Operated by the Office of Personnel Management, this job search site helps veterans find jobs within the federal government. It also has a lot of good information on how the hiring process of the government works.Career One Stop
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, this site is much more than a job search site. It is loaded with information on writing resumes, networking, job search planning and more.Clearance Jobs
If you had a security clearance while serving, it may be reinstated within two years of getting out. This site has only jobs that require a security clearance. Companies like to hire security clearance holders because it saves them time and money of having to get an employee a clearance when needed.Feds Hire Vets
Another federal government employment site, but with great information on Veterans Preference, special hiring authorities and in general how the government hire process works.G.I. Jobs
On this job site, veterans can search according to location, job profile or military specialty.Hero2Hired
Directed toward National Guard and Reserve military members, it tries to match Reserve Component members with jobs. It is part of the White House Joining Forces job initiative for veterans.MBA Veterans Connect
This annual two-day conference connects MBA graduates looking for work directly with employers.Microsoft Veteran Training
For veterans with MBAs wanting to get into the technology field, Microsoft has a website where job seekers can attend a recruiting event online, talk with a recruiter, prepare for an interview and apply online.Military.com
Self-proclaimed as “the largest veteran job board in the world”, individuals can search for jobs, create and post resumes, and network with other veterans online.Military Hire
Sign up for this website, post a resume and search for jobs. It is that easy. Job search can be by U.S. or international locations along with a keyword.My Next Move
Search by keywords, career by industry or careers similar to your military job. The site uses ONET in returning search results.National Resource Directory
Another job search site within the eBenefits network. Just enter a keyword and desired location for a return listing of job openings.National Veterans Foundation
Search by keyword, state, category and work status to narrow down the list of job openings returned.Riley Guide
This is another job search site where you can enter in MBA into the What box and it will return a listing of jobs requiring an MBA.TA Online
While focused on military member transitioning out of the military to the civilian world, recent MBA graduates can also benefit from using this site.Troops to Teachers
Once some veterans have their MBS, they may choose to go into teaching. This DANTES managed site of the Department of Defense can help get you into the program.USA Jobs
A federal job search requiring a keyword(s) and location of the position. This site also has a great Resource section.VA for Vets
A website of the Veteran Employment Services Office (VESO) on how to get a job within Veteran Affairs. With a military skills translator, resume builder and federal job search function, it is a one-stop for VA jobs.Vet Launched
A site filled with information on how to start your own business. They also have business launch coaching packages that can be purchased to help get your business off of the ground.Veteran eMentor
This website connects veterans and their spouses with dynamic mentoring experiences that can help propel them forward in their job search efforts.Veteran Staffing Network
A non-profit whose mission is aimed at matching employers and job seekers with the best match.Veterans Fast Launch Initiative (SCORE)
If you plan to open your own business now that you have your MBA, you can network and get free advice from expert business mentors.Veterans Job Bank
Another job site where not only an applicant can search for a job, but post a profile and resume, and use their Military Skills Translator to better position one for an interview.VetJobs
Supported by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, it is one of the older job sites for veterans.Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment
A Department of Veterans Affairs site with information on job training, resume development and job search coaching for veterans with service-connected disabilities.