A Guide to Pursuing an MBA

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veteran student

By Ron Kness

Whether going to school or working for a company, an important component to success is fitting in and 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 if that veteran friendliness is lacking.

Is Your MBA program military friendly?

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 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:

Does the school have a veterans’ association chapter on campus?

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.

Is the MBA program also offered online?

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 an 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 with the same curriculum.

Is the school part of the Yellow Ribbon Program?

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.

Is the MBA cost-effective?

While cost won’t be 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’s 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 a route that will get you the best education that you can use to reach your career goals.

Does the school have an accreditation that is recognized by the career field?

Some of the for-profit schools were in the news lately where graduates discovered their school’s accreditation wasn’t recognized by their chosen career field. Not only was it costly to get their degree but not any of it was of value in getting the job they wanted.

Funding MBA Programs for Veterans

Post 9/11 GI Bill

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 the 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 classes on campus. A 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 online) to get the increased housing amount.

Yellow Ribbon Program

To be eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program, students must use the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Under this program, the school declares to the VA how much they will waive in tuition as well as 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 you can visit the VA’s Yellow Ribbon School website to search by school.

Source: affordablecollegesonline.org

Make Your Next Job Fair Be Your Last

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veteran standing outside convention center wearing a suit carrying a briefcase

Job fairs are a great opportunity to network and be proactive in the employment process. In order to make the most of these opportunities, set realistic expectations for what you hope to achieve.

Prepare for the job fair like you would for an interview, have a plan for when you arrive, make a good impression with the recruiters, and be sure to follow up with any connections you make.

Here are some other ways to make the most of your next job fair:

•    Research: The week prior to a job fair, find out which companies are participating and learn more about them. What are some interesting things the company is currently working on? Does the company have new leadership or a new product? These tidbits can be used as conversation starters that will impress a recruiter and possibly open the door to a new opportunity for you.

•    Dress for an interview: Job fairs typically involve on-the-spot interviews, so present yourself as you would for any other kind of interview. A suit is most appropriate, even if you’re applying for a technical job. It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed.

•    Prepare: For your top employment choices, consider preparing folders that include your resume, cover letter, recommendations and appropriate work samples.

•    Carry plenty of business cards: Give the business cards to recruiters and other job seekers you meet. They need not be expensive or fancy. A simple design will do. Make sure they contain your name and contact information: phone number, email and address.

•    Organize: You may want to carry a portfolio or clipboard to easily manage and collect information. Be sure to have a pen for taking notes.

•    Relax, breathe and smile: Do your best to make a strong first impression.

•    Walk around: Get the lay of the land, see where your top companies are located and plan your connection strategy.

•    Network: Talk to other job seekers and ask questions. Find out what types of positions they’re seeking, and tell them a little about yourself. You never know who they might know, or if you might be able to help them with an introduction. Don’t hesitate to exchange information if you make a connection.

•    Visit booths: You may want to start by practicing your personal pitch with recruiters who represent companies that may not be your top choice. Have a list of companies you really want to visit and check them off as you go. This will keep you from introducing yourself to the same recruiter twice by accident. Listen to the “interviews” in front of you to get an idea what to expect and develop questions based on what you hear.

Speaking to recruiters
•    Connect: Make eye contact, smile, state your name and shake her or his hand. Use a prepared elevator speech—a 10-second summary of your bio, your skills and your achievements. Make sure to rehearse the speech until it becomes comfortable.

•    Listen: Pay attention, respond to questions and ask for more information. When appropriate, hand your resume to the recruiter and pause for them to do a quick review. Be prepared for questions about specific examples of your experience.

•    Keep it brief: Recruiters are typically swamped, so be mindful that your conversation may be limited to a few minutes. If appropriate, ask questions about next steps, applicant qualifications or any suggestions they may have for you.

•    Get recruiter contact information: Request a business card, and if one is not available, ask the recruiter for their email address. Conclude the conversation by thanking them for their time.

•    Step aside: Make time to write conversation notes before you move on to the next recruiter. If the previous recruiter mentioned she went to Florida State, capture that information. If she told you the company will hire for your desired position soon, write it down. Summarize your job fair experiences immediately in order to take full advantage of the event.

•    Call or email: After a few days, call or send an email, thanking the recruiters for their time and the information they provided. If you send an email to the recruiter who mentioned she went to Florida State, it is appropriate to write, “I’m the administrative assistant at the job fair who discussed Florida State with you.” That reminder could help her recall the conversation. Just taking the time to follow up will separate you from many job fair attendees.

•    Stay in contact: If the recruiter responds back to you, stay in contact. Keep an eye open for articles about their organization or industry and don’t hesitate to forward them on with a note. If you see the perfect job for you in their organization, and you’re qualified, apply for the position and then email the recruiter and let him or her know you applied.

•    Build your network: If you connected with other job seekers and traded contact information, you should follow up with them as well. You never know when they might have a job prospect for you, or vice versa.

If you need information or personalized assistance with your employment search, or have questions about education opportunities, visit the Military OneSource SECO page, or call 800-342-9647 to talk with a career coach.

From One Battlefield to Another: 3 graduate programs for vets interested in politics

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Syracuse University

By Tom McGuin
ClearanceJobs.com

Thinking about running for office? There’s no better way to “put your money where your mouth is” than by throwing your hat in the ring.

Military service has always been a good starting point for entry into politics in America. Americans traditionally love war heroes, however broad the definition of that term might be. From George Washington, who was not only the commander of the Continental Army but a veteran of the French-Indian War, to George W. Bush, a Texas Air National Guard pilot. Thirty-two of the 44 men who have held the presidency served in uniform at some point, with 12 of them as general officers.

One of the high-water marks for veteran political activity was the election of 1946, the first held after the end of World War II. Seventy war veterans were elected to Congress that year, including three future presidents: John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon, and Gerald R. Ford.

There are currently 96 veterans of all stripes serving in Congress—77 in the House and 19 in the Senate—but only 19 are freshmen. I believe we need to raise that number.

If you’re a veteran who wants to make a difference in politics, whether at the local, state, or national level, there are several programs where you can put your Post-9/11 G.I Bill benefits to use.

These programs give you the technical knowledge necessary to get a head start on your potential opponents, whoever they may be.

Syracuse University Veterans in Politics Program

Syracuse University is the newest entry in this field. Banking giant JP Morgan Chase & Co. (where retired Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno is a senior advisor) provided a grant to Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs to begin the program.

Mike Haynie, executive director of Syracuse’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families and vice chancellor for its strategic initiatives and innovation, said, “We hope to create the opportunity to put the veterans who participate in the program on a path to enacting their aspiration for office.” Syracuse participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which covers the difference between Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits and the cost of tuition, and has a robust veteran services office.

University of San Francisco Masters in Public Leadership

In conjunction with the Veterans Campaign, a non-partisan organization dedicated to preparing veterans to hold political office, the University of San Francisco runs a hybrid program of online courses and weekend seminars. The program leads to a MFA degree in public leadership. It’s designed to prepare all students, but especially veterans, for political office as well as for careers in legislative affairs, campaign management, advocacy and civic leadership.

The seminars are available in both San Francisco and the Washington, D.C. area. Like many professional graduate programs, the faculty come more from professional life than academia—a must when discussing the nuts and bolts of getting elected. Prominent among the adjunct faculty is Patrick Murphy, the first Iraq veteran elected to Congress.

George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management

The George Washington University. The Graduate School of Political Management was the first of its kind in the country. It began in New York in 1987, branching out to Washington in 1991. It formally became part of GWU in 1995.

If you want to learn about politics from the people who actually practice and study it alongside people who are currently working in it, then GSPM is for you.

The program offers master of professional studies degrees in three areas: political management, legislative affairs, and strategic public relations. Political management would be the best choice for would-be candidates, while legislative affairs is geared towards those looking to work on Capitol Hill or as a lobbyist. Strategic public relations prepares students to advise senior political and corporate leaders on their engagements with the public.

Continue on to clearancejobs.com to read the complete article.

4 Questions about Yellow Ribbon Schools and Military Benefits

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Soldier dressed in fatiques looking at his laptop

Yellow Ribbon schools offer unmatched benefits to military veterans. In fact, they cover the entire cost of tuition. But while there is a lot to be gained, there is also some confusion about how the program exactly works.

Yellow Ribbon schools offer additional funding to help eligible veteran students pay for the balance that is left after their annual contribution from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been maxed out. To be eligible under the Yellow Ribbon program, students must be utilizing the Post 9/11 GI Bill (at the 100 percent level) and cannot be on active duty. Additionally, the Yellow Ribbon designation is not available to students whose active duty spouses transferred the Post 9/11 GI Bill to them.

We spoke to Vanessa Weber, assistant director of military and veteran education benefits (MVEB) at Azusa Pacific University, to learn more about what participating schools offer veterans and their families.

  1. How are military benefits similar to scholarships?

Weber noted that military benefits are similar to scholarships in that they do not have to be repaid as long as the student completes his or her classes and maintains a steady enrollment status (i.e. does not drop from full-time to part-time partway through a term).

  1. How are they different from scholarships?

Military benefits have a more rigorous approval process than scholarships. “Military benefits are very different than scholarships because they go through various approval channels,” explains Weber. The benefits must be approved by the university’s military benefits office, Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Defense, depending on the benefit type. Additionally, military benefits are earned through selfless service to the country. There is no competition or merit-based system that limits potential beneficiaries of the Yellow Ribbon program.

  1. What makes APU’s military benefits unique?

Azusa Pacific University offers a very generous Yellow Ribbon contribution. “Whereas other schools may offer Yellow Ribbon only to a set number of eligible students, APU provides for every student who qualifies,” says Weber.

APU has noted that it is committed to supporting every veteran and minimizing the sense of competition for financial and personal resources. The university’s benefits are not just limited to veterans; APU facilitates tuition assistance for active duty military members and their spouses.

  1. How does APU support military members and veterans?

In addition to the Military and Veteran Education Benefits office, APU also supports military members and veterans through the Military and Veteran Services (MVS) office. Whereas MVEB is involved solely in the processing of military benefits, MVS provides a number of services and resources—including the Veterans Club and events specifically designed for military-connected students.

Yellow Ribbon schools are committed to helping veterans graduate from college debt-free, regardless of their in-state status or whether the school is public or private. That expands educational opportunities beyond what the GI Bill provides, and it demonstrates a university’s commitment to veterans both inside and outside of the classroom.

Author-John Montesi

Source: Reprinted with permission from Azusa Pacific University

Comcast NBCUniversal Expands Military Hiring Goal

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group of diverse employees seated in a row of chairs talking amongst each other

Comcast NBCUniversal will hire an additional 11,000 veterans, military spouses, and National Guard and Reserve members, bringing its total to 21,000 military hires by the end of 2021.

Comcast’s previous commitment, made in 2015, was to hire 10,000 military community members by the end of 2017, which it exceeded.

“Comcast NBCUniversal has greatly benefitted since we began our focus on hiring members of the military community in 2010, and we are pleased with our progress. We now have thousands of military employees across the country who have translated their valuable experiences in the armed forces to our workforce,” said Dave Watson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Comcast Cable. “We are so thankful that these individuals chose to serve our country, and we are proud to call them teammates as they now help to serve our customers and make a meaningful difference in our company.”

Comcast NBCUniversal has an expansive program to support veterans who have recently transitioned into the workforce, including peer-to-peer mentorship with other veteran employees, digital and in-person professional development opportunities designed specifically for veteran and military spouse employees, and opportunities to stay engaged with the military through volunteering with local veteran-serving organizations. The company also has an 8,400-member strong VetNet employee resource group dedicated to supporting our military workforce.

“I’m incredibly proud that the entire Comcast NBCUniversal family embraced our commitment, showing our support for the military community through not only our hiring efforts, but also through support of veteran-serving non-profit organizations and work with veteran-owned businesses,” said Brigadier General (Ret.) Carol Eggert, Senior Vice President of Military and Veteran Affairs at Comcast NBCUniversal.

The company announced that its Internet Essentials program expanded eligibility to low-income veterans, nearly one million of whom live within the Comcast’s service area. The expansion will be furthered through new nationwide partnerships with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation and the PsychArmor Institute, two of America’s leading veteran-serving non-profit organizations that will help support the creation of veteran-specific digital skills training videos and supplementary materials, which will be made available online and delivered in classrooms at Comcast-sponsored computer labs in 10 markets. The goal is to connect more low-income veterans to Internet resources, including: online social support networks, health benefits, access to colleges and scholarship programs, digital and technical skills training programs, as well as news, games, and entertainment.

Additionally, this year, the company became a founding partner of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring 100,000 Military Spouses campaign, which is raising awareness of military spouse unemployment and encouraging employers to make military spouse hiring commitments, ultimately resulting in a combined 100,000 military spouses hired by the end of 2021. Military spouses are still unemployed at a rate of 16 percent, over four times the rate of their civilian counterparts, and Comcast NBCUniversal is committed to helping to close that gap and hiring these talented individuals who have already given so much to our country.

Source: Comcast Corporation

Military Background the Foundation for Success

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Soldire stands in uniform next to rock called The Rock

It is no secret that companies benefit from a diverse mix of employees, including those who have served our country. We at ON Semiconductor are fortunate to employ many of our active and retired service men and women across the country.

One of these amazing individuals is retired Lieutenant Colonel Darren P. Hooks, based at our corporate headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona. Our diversity and inclusion initiative wanted to take some time to ask Lt. Col. Hooks about his time in the military and how it helped him transition to civilian life.

 

Diversity and Inclusion Initiative (D&I):

What branch of the military did you serve in and for how long?

Darren Hooks (DH): I was in the United States Air Force for over 24 years and retired as Lt. Col.

D&I: Why did you join?

DH: My love for structure, discipline and service motivated me to join. This originated from my passion and progression within the Boy Scouts of America.

D&I: Why did you choose the U.S. Air Force?

DH: The U.S. Air Force chose me. Starting with the Boy Scouts, I transitioned to Army Junior ROTC in high school where I eventually progressed to the highest rank of Battalion Commander. During enrollment in college, I also intended to continue participation in the Army ROTC. During freshman registration, outside on a hot and humid Alabama summer day, both Army and Air Force ROTC recruiters were set up side by side. Strategically, only the Air Force ROTC recruiters offered free hot dogs, sodas and chips. That is how the Air Force chose me.

D&I: Do you come from a military family?

DH: I am the first and only (within a family of 10) to join the U.S. military.

D&I: What was your job/assignment?

DH: Throughout my extensive military service, I served in multiple career fields that include civil engineering, communications, and command and control squadrons.

D&I: Where are some of the places you were deployed?

DH: Military deployments to Qatar, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.

Lt. Colonel Hooks poses in uniform in front of Helicopter

D&I: Once your service ended, what were your next steps? Did you work or go back to school?

DH: Following military retirement, I focused solely on my career with ON Semiconductor.

D&I: What led you to ON Semiconductor and what do you do now?

DH: Motorola recruited me right out of Tuskegee University. I started at Motorola Government Electronics Group before going to Intel Corporation for a period, before returning to ON Semiconductor (formerly Motorola) for a 16-year tenure as a project/program manager.

D&I: How did your military experience influence your career? Do you see connections between your time in the military and your time with ON Semiconductor?

DH: The military instilled within me structure, discipline and teamwork. I credit the military as the foundation of my success at ON Semiconductor. Our company and coworkers supported me tremendously during my multiple military deployments and made coming back to civilian life easier than it might have been otherwise.

D&I: Looking back on your military service, do you consider it to have had a positive impact on your life?

DH: Yes. The military has taught me immeasurable life lessons, and I would not change it for the world.

U.S. Department of Labor Announces Award of $48.1 Million In Grants for Workforce Reintegration of Homeless Veterans

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Homeless Veteran on the street in the cold

U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta today announced the awarding of 149 Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program (HVRP) grants totaling $48.1 million. This funding will provide workforce reintegration services for more than over 18,000 homeless veterans.

The Department will award funds on a competitive basis to state and local workforce investment boards, local public agencies and nonprofit organizations, tribal governments, and faith-based and community organizations. Homeless veterans may receive occupational skills, apprenticeship opportunities, and on-the-job training as well as job search and placement assistance.

This year’s HRVP awards provide 51 first-year grants totaling $16.9 million. Previous awardees will receive first- and second-option year grants totaling $31.2 million.

Grantees in the HVRP program will network and coordinate their efforts with other federal programs such as the Veterans Affairs Supportive Services for Veteran Families program, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development Continuum of Care program.

More information on the Department’s unemployment and re-employment programs for veterans is available at www.dol.gov/vets. For questions about these grant awards, please contact the Department’s Kia Mason at (202) 693-2606 and for more information about the Department’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) please visit www.veterans.gov or follow on twitter @VETS_DOL.

For a full list of HVRP grant recipients click here.

Successful Transition Begins with Backward Planning

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man thinking about his next career

By Mike Olivier

There are a few transitions in life that are inevitable; of that number there are fewer still where the day and time are certain. The transition from the military to civilian life is one of those transitions.

For those entering the civilian workforce, now is a good time. The military is heartily supported by all sectors of society, the economy is good, and unemployment is very low. That means getting a job is most likely not as difficult as it has been in the past. Nevertheless, there is no one standing outside the base gate handing out hundred dollars bills and employment contracts. Which means finding a good job is going to take work, and it is still going to require planning.

The good news is that the transition date for your departure from military life is certain, and you have advance notice. For some, this transition is seamless—they will go to work in the family business, a few will change their military uniform for civilian clothes and go back to work at the same desk, and some will go to college. Most will venture into the unknown and look for work. It doesn’t matter if you’re going on to school, to work, or going back to the family farm—getting there successfully is going to require a degree of planning.

One thing that most likely rubbed off during your time in the military is an acknowledgement of the value of planning. There is not much in the military that is not the result of planning, good or bad; and knowing when you are released from active duty provides you the opportunity to plan your next step. This ability to backward plan is going to provide you with options, and it is going to give you a better chance of succeeding in your transition. The military now offers a number of transition classes, and there are countless programs and agencies that will help point you in the right direction. Taking advantage of these resources is about the most common-sense action one can take. Even if they are incomplete in some respect, these resources can provide you with options and direction.

Networking is successful quote

Before you can plan, you will need to identify a goal: even if this is a leap into the unknown, there has to be somewhere to land. In this process, the question is often framed as “What do you want to do?” It is good to think about this holistically; that is, where do you want to live, what do the others in your life want, and, practically, what do you need? The answer to these and other related questions may align with one another, or, more likely, the answers will point you in opposite directions. Nevertheless, it is important to understand that this is a discovery process, and that answers to these questions may only eliminate options, but that’s a good thing. As you narrow your options, the remaining few provide direction to your transition goal.

In terms of backward planning, the milestones in the plan are going to be set by the objective. If the goal is to go to school to gain skills or to complete a degree, then identifying and getting accepted into the school is going to take time. The planning elements are gathering up transcripts, completing forms and applications, and meeting deadlines. Applying for a job also takes time as you determine what skills you need to be competitive, complete a resume, attend job fairs, and schedule meetings with recruiters. About 80 percent of people get a job through networking. If you have been in the military and out of the job market, out the network, you have to be proactive to establish your network. This is not a weekend task. You will need to establish your network by focusing on the industry. All industries have associations and events, and you create your industry-specific network by attending these events and meeting people. Volunteering at these events is another good way to get to know key people in the industry. If you want to be part of the successful 80 percent, you need to be known within the network.
Transition, for most, is stressful and challenging—it is a culture change, it is a risk. Improve your success and reduce risk and stress by backward planning. Knowing when you get out, where you want to end up, and the tasks to be completed are all elements of the plan. The most important point is don’t wait—start the plan and execute. When you get out, be where you want to be, not struggling to get there.

Practical Resume Advice for Military Veterans

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Man holding a sign that says "Sell Your Skills"

Switching careers takes courage. And veterans know a thing or two about courage. But when military personnel finish serving their country and look to re-enter civilian life, they need more than just strong nerves to make the transition to a new career. Finding a job demands practical strategies.

For veterans, the struggle is often aligning the skills and experiences they’ve gained in the military with the types of jobs that exist outside the military. On top of that, long-serving veterans don’t have a lot of experience with resume making.

Not to worry. This post is all about helping those that have served in the armed forces create resumes as they seek out civilian positions.

We love bringing insights from job recruiters into the products and resources we offer. So, after talking with recruiters about their experiences hiring veterans, we’ve focused this post on the following areas:

Keep in mind that there are plenty of other considerations when making a resume. So be sure to also see our guide on how to build a resume in 2019.

Best resume format for military veterans

There are three different resume formats that are typically used for resumes. For veterans, the most suitable choice is what is called a “functional” or “skills-based” resume format.

Why this? Well the logic behind the functional format is that it gives greater attention to the skills a person has developed. This stands in contrast to the “reverse chronological” resume format, which offers more space for a person to outline a long employment history in order to demonstrate career progression.

Many veterans have spent much of their working life in the military, so their employment history is really one employer – even if they have progressed through different roles or ranks.

That being the case, listing all the positions and responsibilities over a military career often isn’t the best strategy for persuading recruiters in the public or private sector.

This is because recruiters often aren’t familiar with the types of work military personnel undertake, and therefore may not see the applicability of military experience.

To avoid this problem, veterans should focus less on describing their former roles/responsibilities, and instead focus on highlighting the skills they have gained that are directly relevant to the position they are seeking.

Sample of a Military to Civilian Resume

military veteran resume example

Continue on to Novoresume.com to begin building your resume!

Husband & Wife – Both Military Vets – Launch #1 Mobile Flooring Brand Together

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Lorrie, Lewis Willey stand posing in front of their Floor Coverings van in Colorado Springs, CO

When you are thrown a few curveballs in your working career, you sometimes have to take control of your own destiny, and that’s just what Lewis and Lorrie Willey did when they each decided to leave their jobs and make the most of their new life in Colorado Springs by becoming franchisees with Floor Coverings International, whose representatives visit customers’ homes in a Mobile Flooring Showroom stocked with thousands of flooring samples from top manufacturers.

Both Lewis (U.S. Air Force) and Lorrie (U.S. Army) are veterans. Although the couple had spent many years living in Amarillo, Texas, Lewis had always said he would like to retire to Colorado Springs after having been stationed at the Air Force Academy and the couple frequently vacationed in the area. Working as a dialysis nurse, Lewis had the opportunity to relocate to Colorado Springs in 2017. They moved that fall and Lorrie had hoped to continue her executive career with a large insurance company by working remotely from Colorado Springs, but she “retired” after being unable to do so.

Complicating matters even more after their relocation, Lewis was asked to work at a clinic in Alamosa – a three-hour drive from Colorado Springs – several days each week. “He would drive down on Monday and drive back Wednesday or Thursday,” Lorrie said. “It was not what we had in mind when we moved to Colorado and it did not fit our lifestyle ideas. We started looking for other opportunities and got connected with a franchise broker. He showed us what a franchise could do for us in terms of working together to build a future in preparation for retirement down the road.”

Now the couple couldn’t be happier. Lewis had previous experience as a property claims adjuster and he’s been putting those skills to work as a Design Associate, visiting customers’ homes and advising them on appropriate flooring types for their needs. “His knowledge of housing materials, measuring and estimating made him a great fit for that role,” said Lorrie, who will be overseeing the office manager and project coordinator, as well as building community relationships and the Floor Coverings International brand.

In Floor Coverings International, the Willeys found a company that has tripled in size since 2005 by putting a laser focus on consumer buying habits and expressed desires, its impressive operating model, growth ability, marketing, advertising and merchandising. Floor Coverings International further separates itself from the competition through its customer experience, made up of several simple and integrated steps that exceed customers’ expectations. Floor Coverings International also has a very strong commitment to community involvement, led by CEO Tom Wood.

“We assessed six different business models and decided that Floor Coverings International had the best business model, the best match for us in terms of utilizing our existing skill sets, and enough moving parts to really challenge us,” Lorrie said. “We also identified closely with their moral code of ethics, their customer service model and their community involvement with Ronald McDonald House, Habitat for Humanity and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.”

ABOUT FLOOR COVERINGS INTERNATIONAL

Floor Coverings International is the #1 Mobile Flooring Franchise in North America. Utilizing a unique in-home experience, the mobile showroom comes directly to the customer’s door with more than 3,000 flooring choices. Floor Coverings International has 150-plus locations throughout the U.S. and Canada with plenty of opportunity for continued expansion in 2019. For franchise information, please visit flooring-franchise.com and to find your closest location, floorcoveringsinternational.com.

How Wharton’s EMBA Program Adds Value for Military Students

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Three uniformed U.S. soldiers standing outside Army helicopter

The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania helps students accelerate their careers, whether they are staying in the military, planning a future transition, or working in the private sector through its MBA Program for Executives.

The program delivers the “undiluted Wharton MBA to working professionals,” with programs in both Philadelphia and San Francisco that work around a full-time work schedule and offer many benefits for military and veteran students.

Application Fee Waiver and Financial Aid

As a small token of our appreciation, we waive the application fee for all U.S. military applicants. To request a waiver, contact the admissions team of the program to which you’re applying before submitting your application.

Also, if you qualify for all military financial aid programs, it is possible to bring your total out-of-pocket expenses for this program to less than $12,000. We’ve included some resources for additional information about financial aid below.

GI Bill

Both active duty service members and veterans are eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The GI Bill amount is $23,671.94 per year for the 2018–19 academic year. This amount generally increases by a small percentage every year so check the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website at gibill.va.gov for the most up-to-date information.

The VA defines the academic year as August 1–July 31. Because our program starts in May every year, our students qualify for three payments of up to $23,671.94 (up to $68,416), based on eligibility percentage as determined by the military.

Yellow Ribbon Program

In addition to the Post-9/11 GI Bill, veterans who are eligible for 100 percent of the GI Bill and retired at the start of the summer term can qualify for the Yellow Ribbon Program. Wharton has an unlimited number of Yellow Ribbon spots for the full-time and executive MBA Program. The Yellow Ribbon Program awards $12,500 per fall and spring semesters, for a total of $50,000.

Applying for the Yellow Ribbon Program is not difficult—once accepted, students submit their certificate of eligibility to the Student Financial Services Office (executivemba.wharton.upenn.edu/emba-tuition-financial-aid/).

Basic Allowance for Housing

To calculate your estimated benefits, enter your own personal information using the GI Bill Comparison Tool at va.gov/gi-bill-comparison-tool/.

Additional Financial Aid Resources

Military students may qualify for additional scholarships, including the FRA Education Foundation and AT&T Veterans. Wharton’s EMBA program also awards a few merit-based scholarships each year. These scholarships are based on the individual applicant and the applicant pool. Consideration is automatic, and awards are granted as part of the admissions offer.

Wharton’s Military Network

We recognize that our military applicants are faced with unique circumstances and we welcome the opportunity to assist you in any way possible. We have a very tight network of military students, and we would be happy to connect you up with any of them so that they can share their personal perspectives and experiences.

Wharton Veterans Club

The Wharton Veterans Club is committed to assisting transitioning service members and veterans who are interested in pursuing an MBA. There are more than 80 veterans and active military members in the club, and they take great pride in their military service and are extremely proud to be a part of the Wharton community.

They host Wharton MBA military visit days throughout the year, provide support and mentorship through the application process, and connect applicants with military alumni.

Wharton Stories

Rebecca Bennett

Test Pilot, U.S. Navy

EMBA, 2019, Wharton Philadelphia campus

Prior education: Cornell University, B.S., chemical engineering

Military experience: “I joined the Navy in college to be part of something bigger than myself and to Rebecca Bennett standing next to army helicopterserve my country. I’ve always done things that challenge me because I believe you grow when you go outside your comfort zone, so I chose to become a pilot and headed to flight school. I opted to fly helicopters because I was passionate about the helicopter missions, which often involve hurricane relief and search and rescue, and I wanted to fly with a crew. I did a few deployments around the world, and then I was selected and attended the U.S Naval Test Pilot School. Now, I work as a test pilot where my job is to help develop and test new technology and equipment for Navy helicopters before those products are deployed to helicopter units around the world.”

Getting an MBA: “When my commitment to the military is up in the summer of 2019, I plan to separate from the military and get into business. I believe companies have incredible opportunities to tackle some of the problems facing society today, and I want to be on the leading-edge of the technologies being developed to solve those problems. I want an MBA to learn how to leverage my military background and gain new business knowledge to transition into the private sector.”

Military students: “One of the great things about this program is that it brings people with all sorts of backgrounds together. Even so, sometimes I find there can be a stark divide between veterans and civilians – we speak a different language and it’s sometimes hard for each side to understand what the other does for their job. This program has helped me bridge that divide. It has also allowed me to better understand my opportunities in the private sector as well as explain how my military background adds value.”

Value of Wharton for military students: “The Wharton network is an incredible benefit. I’ve sent cold emails to alumni with an almost 100% response rate. Alumni are willing to get on the phone and talk about their jobs, which is something I didn’t expect when I came here. I’ve also learned a lot from my fellow classmates. And, of course, the academics are phenomenal. I am getting the business knowledge necessary to make a smooth transition to the private sector.”

Military benefits: “I used the application fee waiver for military students and the GI Bill.”

Chris Robinson

F/A-18 Instructor Pilot, U.S. Marine Corps

Position after graduation: Investment Banker, Goldman Sachs

EMBA, 2019, Wharton San Francisco campus

Prior education: Boston College, B.A., economics and political science

Chris Robinson standing outside with his familyMilitary experience: “I joined the Marines as an undergraduate student to serve something greater than myself. I served on two deployments, including one to the Western Pacific and one to the Middle East. More recently, I’ve served as an instructor pilot teaching newly winged aviators to fly the F/A-18. This year, I’m transitioning off active duty to the Reserves and will continue to serve as a flight instructor.”

Getting an MBA: “I knew I would be transitioning out of the military to the private sector and getting an MBA was a way to accelerate that transition. I wanted to gain high-level, relevant knowledge about different facets of business and learn alongside an experienced cohort from different industries. I needed a program for executives because as a full-time active duty officer with four kids, going back to school full-time was not an option. I explored some other EMBA programs, but they didn’t compare to Wharton.”

Military students: “Coming from the military, I wasn’t aware of all of the opportunities the private sector has to offer or the paths to those careers. This program has a dedicated career director, who also has military experience, who provides one-on-one career coaching and is a great resource for students wanting to make a transition. After graduation, I will be joining Goldman Sachs.” [Wharton EMBA career directors are Steve Hernandez in San Francisco and Dr. Dawn Graham in Philadelphia.]

Value of Wharton for military students: “Military students bring such intangible leadership qualities as having presence in a room and being able to cut through things quickly, which is valued in team settings. We also are good at time management. I’m always the guy who wants to begin meetings on time. On the other hand, we also tend to speak more bluntly. My peers have helped coach me about cultural norms in the private sector, which has served me well as I go through my transition process.”

Military benefits: “I used the application fee waiver for military students and the GI Bill. As I transition off active duty, I plan to use the Yellow Ribbon Program and the part of the GI Bill that provides a Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). I also received some scholarship funds from Wharton.”

Marty Pendleton

Management Consulting Manager, Accenture

Previously U.S. Navy Surface Warfare Officer

EMBA, 2020, Wharton Philadelphia campus

Prior education: Vanderbilt University, B.S., communication studies

Military experience: “After college, I served in the U.S. Navy for five years because I wanted to giveMarty Pendleton standing outside in full dress uniform back and do something service oriented. After getting out of the military, I wanted to continue working to support our defense and intelligence communities. I did that through consulting and joined Accenture’s federal practice. I work with law enforcement, intelligence and defense agencies to improve technology and processes. My service to the country is continuing, but I have a broader impact in this role and it is very rewarding.”

Getting an MBA: “I wanted to continue learning about business, and sometimes you have to step away from your day-to-day and learn in a classroom surrounded by people doing different things. I learn a lot from my classmates and the professors – more than I could learn on the job.”

Military students: “We bring a unique perspective to the classroom because we have led teams, often under life and death circumstances. Those high stakes teach a person how to filter out the noise in decision-making and how to focus on what really matters. One critical factor is building and empowering a team you trust.”

Value of Wharton for military students: “Military people have great leadership experience that makes us good generalists, but we tend to come out of the service with knowledge gaps. While we know how to lead teams, we may not know how to read a balance sheet or build a marketing plan. Wharton helps us develop these skills, while also broadening our network outside of the military.”

Military benefits: “I used the application fee waiver for military students, the Yellow Ribbon Program, and the GI Bill.”

Craig Replogle

Manager, Strategic Account Operations, Nike and Navy SEAL Commander, U.S. Navy Reserve

Previously U.S. Navy SEAL

EMBA, 2015, Wharton San Francisco campus

Prior education: U.S. Naval Academy, B.S., ocean engineering

Craig Replogle in uniform outside kneeling on one knoee holding his son with his two other children on either sideMilitary experience: “I grew up watching Top Gun and went to the Naval Academy to be a fighter pilot, but eventually discovered the SEAL Teams. During my senior year, 9/11 occurred and that had a big impact on my trajectory. I was fortunate to earn an opportunity to enter the Navy SEAL selection and training program and even more fortunate to make it through the arduous program. I then went on to spend the next decade as a SEAL officer, deploying overseas six times. I transitioned off active duty in the Wharton EMBA program and continue to serve in the Navy Reserves while growing my new career at Nike.”

Getting an MBA: “Towards the end of my time on active duty, I decided I wanted to be home more for my wife and kids. I decided to take advantage of the GI Bill to get my MBA and help transition to the private sector. In the Navy, the things that mattered most to me were the amazing people I worked with, the impact of culture on an organization, and the ability to maintain an active lifestyle. At Wharton, I explored possible career paths with those factors in mind. Wharton EMBA Career Director Steve Hernandez coached me as I narrowed my search to various sports and outdoor companies. When I dove into the deep end to pursue a career at Nike, both the veterans’ and Wharton networks were instrumental in helping me land a role at the Swoosh.”

Military students: “We bring a different leadership experience having led teams in high-risk critical situations. As a result, we know that every midterm and final is just one piece of the entire puzzle. It’s important, but no one’s life is on the line. We have a unique perspective on the big picture, which can be helpful for our classmates, because we know the stakes are less in the classroom than they are on the battlefield.”

Value of Wharton for military students: “This program helps shore up any lack of business experience for military students. The knowledge, brand, and network from Wharton are priceless. Employers know you have a solid business foundation and understanding of the levers that are pivotal to a company. Just as important, you learn from and how to work with your classmates who come from a variety of backgrounds outside of the military. They are your first and most important network you’ll grow outside of the military.”

Military benefits: “I used the application fee waiver for military students and the GI Bill. In my second year, I used the Yellow Ribbon Program and Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH).”

Source: executivemba.wharton.upenn.edu