Veteran Voices: Matching Military Experience with Business Knowledge

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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: Jim Tripiano, ’16, Weekend MBA Program
Military branch and position: Lieutenant Commander, US Navy Reserve
Years served: 8 years active (when he started coursework at Booth); 2.5+ years in the Navy Reserve.
Current, post-MBA position: vice president at Second Front Systems

Why was an MBA an important step in your post-military career?
Transitioning out of the military is a more daunting task than most people realize. I wanted an MBA to help me accelerate my learning curve as much as possible in order to quickly match my military experience with new business knowledge. I wanted to be a valuable part of whatever organization I happened to join.

What attracted you to Booth’s Weekend MBA Program?
Booth’s commitment to helping people from outside the Chicago area was attractive to me because I thought their commitment would extend into the classroom and into the Career Services department. I also really liked the flexibility of the program. I was able to take advantage of this by taking the classes that were most interesting and relevant to me, while also still taking classes with marquee professors that some might assume would not teach on Saturdays.

Tell us about the transition from military to private sector and how your MBA helped prepare you.
Functioning well in the business world is not rocket science; it just takes a willingness to learn and a willingness to make mistakes. Earning my MBA gave me a place to try out new things in an environment with low consequences. For example, practicing networking at Booth events had a significant impact on my career ambitions because I would explain to classmates the careers I thought I might pursue after I got out of the military. Then they would ask me follow up questions that I had never thought of before, and this allowed me to reflect on my plans.

Any advice for active duty service members or veterans considering an MBA?
Do it! The most important part of finding success is knowing what you want to do and why you want to do it. A Booth MBA will expose veterans to career options available to them, and will expose them to people that have worked in the industries they are going to enter. The opportunity to learn, experiment, and practice new skills – like pitching to a group of investors – cannot be found anywhere else.

Anything else you think a prospective student with a military background should know about Booth’s Evening MBA and Weekend MBA Programs?
Booth’s Evening and Weekend Programs provide the same level of opportunity as the Full-Time program, and you should apply for the program that is right for you. Do not apply for a program based on your own assumptions or based on other people’s perceptions of a program. Look beyond these assumptions and perceptions and learn about programs on your own so you can find the right fit. 

We thank Jim 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.