Veteran Voices: From Navy Lieutenant to Tech Sales

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Navigating business school can be challenging, and it helps to have a community to support you along the way. This is how one former US Navy veteran and Evening MBA Program alumnae made the connection from military service to the corporate tech world.

We hope her experiences, insights, and advice will help as you explore your next educational and professional steps.

Name: Katie Easterly, ’12, Evening MBA Program

Your military branch and position: former US Navy Lieutenant
Years served: 6
Current, post-MBA career: tech sales

Why was an MBA an important step in your post-military career?
The Navy gave me an incredible opportunity to hone my leadership skills, but I knew I needed to up my game if I wanted to have continued success in the corporate world. While I did have a business undergraduate degree, Booth gave me the extra “above and beyond” to problem-solve effectively in a corporate environment.

What attracted you to Booth’s Evening MBA Program?
I appreciated the flexibility of the Evening MBA program. It allowed me to continue working my final shore duty tour while taking classes at night, and I believe it made my transition much easier. Additionally, I was so impressed with the camaraderie of the students in the Evening program and knew I wanted to be a part of the community. The networking opportunities are unbelievable and I still maintain many close friendships from my time at Booth.

Tell us about the transition from military to private sector and how your MBA helped prepare you.
After I completed my MBA, I went to work at ZipFit Denim, which is a startup owned by a Booth alumna. After a year with ZipFit, I took a procurement management position with GlaxoSmithKline. Most recently, I have been heavily involved with real estate sales and am transitioning once again to tech sales. I consider my Booth MBA to be a powerful “tool in my arsenal,” a degree that gives me versatility to pursue different opportunities in different fields.

Any advice for active duty service members or veterans considering an MBA?
Research your options and really understand your why for choosing Booth. This degree is a considerable investment, and it will not be an easy program, so you need to understand your true motivations for pursuing it. Those reasons will buoy you during the tough times (hello, final exams!). Finally, don’t doubt your perceived lack of civilian experience and how it will affect your time in grad school. Your unique experience as a veteran is so powerful and impactful. Don’t underestimate yourself.

Anything else you think a prospective student with a military background should know about Booth’s Evening MBA and Weekend MBA Programs?
The veteran community is strong at Booth— make those connections early and quickly, and make a concerted effort to build them throughout your time in school.

We thank Katie and our Evening MBA and Weekend MBA community of more than 260 veteran and active duty alumni and current students. If you are considering making the transition from the military to business school, please contact our Admissions staff to find out how a Chicago Booth Evening MBA or Weekend MBA can fit into your future plans.