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I started out going to a non-target state university for finance, graduating with a 3.2 and a commission in the US Army (thanks to ROTC I had a four year scholarship and zero school debt).

The next four years I had a reasonably good time in the military, deployed once, and got out as a captain. My branch was Ordnance which led me into a lot of logistics work in the last year and a half of my service. I had made up my mind from early on that I didn't want retire from the Army and business had always been something that interested me.

A couple of short months after leaving active duty I moved to Chicago with a couple of goals in mind: Find a FT job and after doing it for a couple years get my MBA from Booth or Kellogg. I chose Chicago because of it's mix of financial industry and close proximity of those two excellent grad schools. I had never been here, didn't know anyone from here, and thus had to build my network from the ground up.

This is where my luck began. It turned out that I had a second cousin once or twice removed who works at WF and that was my doorway into the banking network. Through him I met a gentleman who works in PWM and became the biggest driving force in my job search. He had enlisted in the army many years ago and so he had a soft spot for a recently separated veteran like myself. Through him I was introduced to one or more people throughout Comm banking, Big 4, VC, PE, Law firms, boutique consultancies, etc.

I interviewed with a WF advisors but due to my lack of personal contacts I wasn't taken on. I interviewed with a boutique MC firm, but they were looking for someone more advanced in the technical side of the house. After awhile I even cast my job search net wider than finance and looked for logistics positions... a fraternity contact helped me get an interview, but they honestly told me it seemed like I was more interested in doing finance than logistics work.

Finally in November (13.5 months after moving to Chicago), I networked my way into a superday at a Big 4 for their risk advisory business line. Remembering the lessons I had learned from the MC interview, I did well enough to get an offer four days later.

I am very excited to begin my new career and can't wait to see what opportunities open up down the road. If I can help anyone out with more specific details I will gladly do so.

Comments (14)

  • beautysuze's picture
  • QuickQuestion90's picture

    Congrats man! Keep an open mind and help others as well. Awesome.

  • happypantsmcgee's picture

    Combat Service Support isn't a bad thing, just not a good thing.

    Only kidding brother, congrats.

    If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

  • In reply to happypantsmcgee
    DaveWinkler's picture

    happypantsmcgee wrote:
    Combat Service Support isn't a bad thing, just not a good thing.

    Only kidding brother, congrats.

    My job overseas was as a recovery team leader. It was always VERY satisfying when we were called out on a mission to go help the infantry guys get their vehicles unstuck out of a farmers muddy field or pull their rolled over trucks out of a ditch... they were always sooooo happy to be "rescued" by a bunch of lowly mechanics. :D

    and thanks HPMcgee!

    Suffer no fools

  • weezerdog's picture

    Congratulations, dude. The undergrad/ROTC to O-3 Captain to finance path is not an easy one, especially in cities that do not have a strong military presence or community. If there are professional military network groups within your company or in the greater Chicago area, I would recommend finding a good one and becoming an active, contributing member. I have found these groups to be small but very well connected. Granted, most of them are west pointers or other service academy grads, but every now and again you find a highly successful ROTC or prior enlisted dude that is willing to lend you a hand.

    Again, congratulations. Good luck to ya.

    P.S. -- HPMcgee is correct - combat arms or nothing!

  • mongoose's picture

    Question: Why did you directly not apply to B-School? I assume as a O3 you would be competitive for any B School.

    And one more question about branching. Does what branch you are in the Army affect your chances of getting into BSchool. I mean of course a Captain from combat arms would be more competitive at HBS, but would someone who did 4 years as a Logistics Officer in the Navy have no chance at all?

  • Ambition's picture

    Hey man that is amazing! Gl to you! Chicago is a great city, nice midwestern peps :D

    I want a lady on the street, but a freak in the bed,

    Go Bucks!!

  • In reply to mongoose
    DaveWinkler's picture

    JamesHetfield wrote:
    Question: Why did you directly not apply to B-School? I assume as a O3 you would be competitive for any B School.

    And one more question about branching. Does what branch you are in the Army affect your chances of getting into BSchool. I mean of course a Captain from combat arms would be more competitive at HBS, but would someone who did 4 years as a Logistics Officer in the Navy have no chance at all?

    To the first question, I felt that my level of schooling would not match up with my applicable work experience if I were to get my MBA straight out of Military. I.E. I would be too qualified for an entry level job regarding my degrees but under qualified for an associate level job regarding my lack of experience. This sentiment was shared by some of the people I networked with. In addition, my grades out of my non target school weren't good, so I figure pumping up my resume with a good employer (in addition to the Army) will help me get into the B schools I want.

    To the second question. As much as these guys joke about Combat arms > Service Support, the civilian schools/employers don't know or give a crap about what you actually did in the military, they just care that you served. I would venture to guess the main differentiating factor that B schools might consider is if you went to a military academy or not (west point, USNA, USAFA). With those applicants being placed higher on the totem pole than an ROTC/OCS graduate. But again, this is just speculation on my part.

    I also can't speak for HBS admission standards, but you're probably not in too bad a shape if you can show them four years of solid leadership experience, some fancy awards/recognition, and the praise of your superiors.

    Suffer no fools

  • happypantsmcgee's picture

    I saw the branch breakdown for HBS in 2010 awhile back (Ill see if I can find it) and it was basically

    Combat Arms: 20%
    Combat Support: 15%
    Combat Service Support 65%

    I'm sure there is a huge amount of bias in that ie what percentage of applicants from the military came from each category, etc. but that shows you that they really don't care about your branch.

    For what its worth, some finance officers have had some awesome luck getting into top 10s

    If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

  • DaveWinkler's picture

    I just give my (un)biased opinion... HappyPants comes in with the facts and figures to make me not a liar.

    Suffer no fools

  • upod01's picture

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  • ekimlacks's picture

    I think that we are all clinging to a great many piano tops...

  • In reply to ekimlacks
    DaveWinkler's picture

    Suffer no fools