Veteran Voices: Opening Doors for a Former Navy Lieutenant

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Transitioning from the military into the business world may seem daunting, and we expect you have unique questions and concerns as you consider enrolling in an MBA program. And who better to hear from than our Evening MBA and Weekend MBA alumni who have made this transition themselves? 

We asked a series of questions to four of our Evening MBA and Weekend MBA Program alumni veterans, and we hope their experiences, insights, and advice will help as you explore your next educational and professional steps.

Name: Victor Perez, ’16, Weekend MBA Program
Military branch and position: former US Navy Lieutenant in the submarine force
Years served: 6
Current, post-MBA position: Credit Derivatives Trader at Wells Fargo Securities

Photo of Victor Perez Why was an MBA an important step in your post-military career?
I had no prior business experience. The MBA from Booth has expedited my career progression within the firm.

What attracted you to Booth’s Weekend MBA Program?
My last assignment in the military was as an assistant professor at the University of Notre Dame. My goal was to attend a top-five business school, so I really enjoyed the ease of getting to Chicago from South Bend. Furthermore, my interaction with the admissions staff throughout my application process led me to believe that Booth valued something more than grades and academics. In my opinion, the emphasis on people and leadership was apparent, and that resonated with me.

Tell us about the transition from military to private sector and how your MBA helped prepare you.
The transition from the military is not easy. You go from one way of life that you are used to, to corporate America where you have to relearn how to behave in a new environment. Going through Booth, I learned a lot simply from interacting with peers, especially in the Evening MBA and Weekend MBA Programs where everyone is a working professional. The lessons from the classroom were directly applicable on day one. Although I may not have recalled how to calculate modified duration for a bond right off the bat, once I saw the equation it all came back to me. Understanding concepts like that made it easy for me to pick up the more complex concepts of trading, and ultimately resulted in me getting fully licensed and trading on my own within six months (the norm is over a year). The MBA directly contributed to how fast I started trading.

Photo of Victor Perez Any advice for active duty service members or veterans considering an MBA?
Don’t close any doors. If you have no other plans, pursuing an MBA would only give you more options in the future. When I started my MBA, my intent was to stay in the Navy for a career, and I was using the MBA solely for my career progression. Through my interactions with peers and professors in and out of the classroom, I decided to venture out into finance. Pursuing an MBA, especially from a school like Booth, could be a life-changing event. Some of my greatest friends were my peers at Booth, just like some of my peers in the service. Be open minded. Take advantage of every opportunity you can.

Anything else you think a prospective student with a military background should know about Booth’s Evening MBA and Weekend MBA Programs?
I was on active duty when I started as a part-time student at Booth. Do not think for a second that it is impossible for you to do your military job and pursue a world-class education at a place like Booth. I’ll admit it was very exhausting, especially traveling to Chicago sometimes a few times a week. However, once it is over and done with, you will appreciate what you learned, who you met, and the experience as a whole. Good luck!

To learn more about Victor, listen to his interview on Beyond the Uniform, a podcast focused on the experience of veterans transitioning out of military service. Listen here

We thank Victor 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.