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A Veteran’s Transition from the Army to an MBA Program

by Graham Burgess, 2Y 2020

A note from the Kellogg admissions team: If you’re a veteran or member of the military, we want to meet you! Register for Military Preview Day 2019, an event co-sponsored by the Kellogg Veteran’s Association, on May 10, 2019.

After I relinquished command of my 150-solider infantry company and began the process of transitioning out of the Army, I was really struck by the gap that now existed in my life. I no longer came to work every day and huddled with the company’s senior leaders before PT to set the day’s agenda, or grabbed lunch with my fellow commanders after a particularly brutal quarterly training brief, or had any of the small interactions with soldiers about their training, promotions or personal issues.kellogg-veterans-association

I had been preparing to leave the military for over a year, and was confident that an MBA at Kellogg was the right choice for me after talking to enrolled veterans and attending DAK I. But I hadn’t fully prepared for how big the transition from the military would be, and soon realized I would need a place with a strong support network to help manage the change.

Fortunately, Kellogg is exactly that place for transitioning veterans. From arriving on campus in mid-August and heading out on Family KWEST to northern Wisconsin, I immediately felt a part of the Kellogg community, even with people I barely knew, from all manner from backgrounds and experiences.

This community only grew stronger as we returned to campus and the CIM pre-term started and I met my section, the Big Dogs, who I’d be taking core courses with during the first year. In my section, I met an incredibly diverse set of people with a wide variety of interests and passions that they loved to share. I was able to develop meaningful relationships with my section-mates, whether it was through challenging group projects or our shared up and downs during the recruiting process. I was also able to leverage their experience with the civilian sector and discuss what they truly valued from their pre-MBA experiences, and what they are looking for in their post-MBA career. This gave me a vocabulary and context to frame my decisions and forced me to think about what matters most to me as I pursued internship opportunities and beyond.

The Kellogg Veterans Association was the other place I was able to instantly find a home and connect with my fellow classmates and veterans. From the second-years who were able to answer any questions about the coursework and internship search, to my fellow first-year support network, I was able to quickly connect to that support structure and feel the camaraderie I’d been missing since I left the Army. As a first-year cohort, we learned together and constantly practiced case interviews and other skills to fill a business acumen gap with terminology and concepts we didn’t have to know in the military. The KVA has been an unmatched professional and social organization and has helped make my Kellogg experience exactly what I was looking for.

From KWEST, to the Big Dogs, to the KVA, Kellogg has provided me the strong relationships and support network that I was looking to find in my post-military transition, and I believe that the people that are here make it an excellent home for any transitioning veteran.