Joining the Navy as an Officer after 2.5 years in banking - plans to get MBA after - Terrible idea?

I'm mid/late 20s and did the 2 year analyst stint right after college at an no-name capmarkets i-bank and less than a year into my associate stint at another no-name capmarkets i-bank. There has to be more to life than raising $10-$25M for micro-cap biotech and pharmaceutical companies. I've been giving the heads up I'm being let go. I've been here less than a year so I cannot lateral to another bank and also I don't want to be stuck at no-name capmarket banks forever. It looks like the end of the road for me.

What if I walked down to the Time Square Armed Forces Booth and signed up as an officer in the Navy? 4 years commitment (4 years reserves after) then try to get into a top MBA program? I've read articles that MBAs love ex-officers because they add so much to their class. I'll probably be 30/31 or even 32 and so 33/34 by the time I get out of b-school. Is that too old to be an ibank associate?

There are some specialisations in the Navy that seem very interesting - foreign area service officer (military attaches to foreign countries) and if accepted the Navy sends you to the Defence Language School to learn a critical language then dumps you in another country. Or Navy intelligence which require analytical skills. My end goal is still to come back to Wall Street in NYC or London as an Associate at a top bank.

I don't know the logistics of studying for the GMAT while on Active Duty or applying while on a ship for 6 months but is this idea crazy? Listen it'll be hard to give up living in NYC in my 20s but for a chance to really grow self-discipline, focus, and fortitude and go to a top MBA than hopefully top bank - aka. a second chance at life after I screwed up ... ? I'm seriously considering this. I'll run out of money to stay at my LES Manhattan apartment in about 7-10 months anyway.

The only thing is I would really prefer to get an MBA abroad at LBS or INSEAD. Could I do that if I'm in the reserves after 4 years? Take a break maybe?

I'm a desperate guy in a terrible situation. Life could have been different but I screwed up. What do you think?

Comments (29)

Jan 19, 2016

Its not common but it happens a fair amount. My boss was on the hill for 3 years, went Force recon then did a top 20 MBA. Its doable but go into the Navy because you want to be in the Navy, not because you want X job in the Navy. You have some control over your job but not total control so make sure you want to be a servicemember first and whatever job second.

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

Funniest
Jan 19, 2016

Trading models'n'bottles for a life of making models of ships in bottles?

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Jan 19, 2016

I also think you are severely underestimating the difficulty of getting an OCS slot right now. At one point like 2 years ago even the fucking Guard was at 2X strength for officers. Something to consider.

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

Jan 19, 2016

The process can take awhile (almost a year)...

Jan 19, 2016

Oh well I guess I'm just screwed then.

Jan 19, 2016

Why? You can find another job and parallel path that with your OCS stuff. Its not impossible...I don't understand the defeatist attitude. If you were using the Navy as a 'fuck gotta find something' then you shouldn't do it. You'll be fine. Network and grind. Thats all it takes.

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

Jan 19, 2016

I can find another job but you said Navy is not really handing out OCS offers right now.

Jan 19, 2016

Yea but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. Hell, you'll need another job anyway as the process takes awhile.

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

Jan 19, 2016

Get another job, pursue the lengthy process of getting a commission, which is mostly just having all of your paperwork submitted and then decided if/when you get an offer for a commission. It's not a 'bad' route, but I wouldn't make a major life decision when the news of being let go is still fresh in your mind... Everyone feels depressed after something like that.

Jan 19, 2016

Is your firm downsizing or are they not happy with you personally? Why not find a new job and do the MBA now? Kill the GMAT and spin your experience as niche experience you sought out for interest reasons.

I had three jobs and 3 years exp before I applied due to the second company being sold (so I jumped in the middle of the process) and was able to secure 2 M7 admits. If your company is just downsizing you can explain that away the way I did. And see if you can get your boss to write you a good rec.

Jan 19, 2016
AllDay_028:

Is your firm downsizing or are they not happy with you personally? Why not find a new job and do the MBA now? Kill the GMAT and spin your experience as niche experience you sought out for interest reasons.

I had three jobs and 3 years exp before I applied due to the second company being sold (so I jumped in the middle of the process) and was able to secure 2 M7 admits. If your company is just downsizing you can explain that away the way I did. And see if you can get your boss to write you a good rec.

Not enough saved up for an MBA right now. I can get recs from both banks i've been at. But MBA costs money.

Jan 19, 2016
anybankeratall:

AllDay_028:Is your firm downsizing or are they not happy with you personally? Why not find a new job and do the MBA now? Kill the GMAT and spin your experience as niche experience you sought out for interest reasons.I had three jobs and 3 years exp before I applied due to the second company being sold (so I jumped in the middle of the process) and was able to secure 2 M7 admits. If your company is just downsizing you can explain that away the way I did. And see if you can get your boss to write you a good rec.

Not enough saved up for an MBA right now. I can get recs from both banks i've been at. But MBA costs money.

Like 70% of people take out some loans to do an MBA. The median debtload is close to 100k. If you plan to go back into banking, you can pay that off in two bonus cycles.

Jan 19, 2016

Terrible idea just to get into a top MBA - find another job

Jan 19, 2016

OP-

I think it is important to get more specific here: What exactly do you not like about your current job, and what do you hope to gain or experience by becoming a naval officer (other than a small leg up in MBA admissions)?

Jan 19, 2016

I admire that and would encourage you to pursue this path

Jan 19, 2016

No offense, but I question your motivation behind going into the Navy. The way your story sounds to me is "I've worked at some no-name banks, never moved or lateraled to better places(probably because I didn't do too well/didn't create the opportunity), and recently got fired. Because I don't have too many options I figure the military is a good cop out that will let me slide into a Top B school in 4 years."

My question is, if you were unhappy in banking why didn't you push for something better. Either for a better lifestyle or for a better bank so that you would have had more options.

If I were you I would find another job somewhere that leverages some of your banking experience, but gives you an easier lifestyle(Business Ops, Corp Finance, Corp Dev, etc) try and kill it for 2 more years, get some strong recs and then go for an MBA. You'll have 4.5-5 years of experience at matriculation and will probably have a good shot at a top 10-15 school. Don't do the Navy unless you have a real reason to do so.

Jan 19, 2016

I was never in the military and have the utmost respect for those who served, but really think this over. Like @ArcherVice said, don't make this type of decision when you're bummed because you're getting laid off. There was a good thread on here recently with someone asking the question if they should sign up and go for a commission after their analyst stint but their main motivation was a deep desire to serve. Not simply because they were a little lost and/or thought it was a good thing to put on an MBA app. There was a lot of good info on the thread about things like OCS, jobs you'd get in the military, MBA opps afterwards, etc.

I'm not saying you shouldn't do it but you should seriously contemplate what you're doing. That's not like applying to culinary school because you're having a quarter life crisis and coming to a what the fuck did I do conclusion half way through Johnson & Wales in Providence. Joining the armed forces is altering your life in probably the most extreme way you voluntarily could.

Jan 19, 2016

Why dont you think that youll find another job because youve been laid off?

Jan 19, 2016

Hey, I do have a desire to serve - I'm doing this for many reasons.

1) It will really enhance, improve, and instil self-discipline, focus, and diligence - all skills that will help me for life (I don't expect these to come automatically, I will be self-driven)
2) Serve my country in the finest Navy in the world
3) Learn additional skills (like a language at the DLI)
4) Save up money (no housing/rent expenses is something)
5) Get a leg up on MBA admission (banking experience + Naval Officer)

I know a girl from college that got into ridiculous shape and got her life together after college when she was in dead-end finance jobs by joining the Navy. I plan to come back to Wall Street with great more maturity focus and diligence than before.

I know many of you guys subscribe to the "if you don't have it now, you'll never have it so forget it" philosophy but I'm making a real effort at self-betterment here. I know the sacrifices I have to make on this path - I might fail. But if I have enough self-drive and diligence I think it could be a solid plan to get a second shot back at life.

Jan 19, 2016

Your number one reason for joining is what the Navy can do for you. All the rest, except for a broadly stated "serve my country", are all about YOU. I think you would be making a mistake by joining the military under your current auspices. I would re-think your current situation and find another opportunity.

Jan 19, 2016

Wow. I think my reasons are pretty much the same as anyone who signs up. Maybe I shouldn't be asking for advice on this forum.

Best Response
Jan 19, 2016

Your top post made it seem much more like you were desperate, at wit's end and that you thought the Navy would change your life (probably because "I'm a desperate guy in a terrible situation. Life could have been different but I screwed up.") and not because you wanted to serve. This is really going to date me and this will go over most people's heads other than @DickFuld and a few others on here but it sounded like something out of Private Benjamin or Stripes-the Navy would give you skills and let you travel the world and have a great time.

There is no doubt that a lot of people join the Armed Forces after graduating high school out of desperation-they don't have the money for college, they didn't get accepted to college, the alternative is flipping burgers/the thug life, etc-but you obviously went to college and have had a desirable job, so I wouldn't consider joining the Navy out of desperation. If you feel an overwhelming sense of duty, go for it. But don't make a such an enormous life decision because you're getting laid off or feeling bummed out.

I almost joined the Navy two years out of college not because I got laid off but it was probably what would be called the quarter life crisis today. Work was fine but it wasn't what everyone thinks the investment world is going to be when you're in college, being an excel and powerpoint jockey just didn't seem what life was supposed to be about and I always had that itch to serve but it wasn't all encompassing enough to have done (N)ROTC. It may or may not have been a good thing for me (I was 5 lbs over the weight limit when I went to talk to a recruiter, which was funny because I was rock solid but 6' and 206 lbs was over at the time) but a couple of years later we ended up in Afghanistan and Iraq and two guys I knew from college-one Army infantry and another a Marine-died in those wars. Like I said earlier, I have the utmost respect and gratitude for those who serve but before you sign up make sure you realize it's not just a way to spend 4 years, see the world, gain skills or get into a master program, but be sure that you're willing to sacrifice your life for your fellow soldiers/sailors/Marines and your country. If that's how you feel, then Godspeed and thank you.

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Jan 19, 2016
anybankeratall:

Hey, I do have a desire to serve - I'm doing this for many reasons.

1) It will really enhance, improve, and instil self-discipline, focus, and diligence - all skills that will help me for life (I don't expect these to come automatically, I will be self-driven)2) Serve my country in the finest Navy in the world3) Learn additional skills (like a language at the DLI)4) Save up money (no housing/rent expenses is something)5) Get a leg up on MBA admission (banking experience + Naval Officer)

I know a girl from college that got into ridiculous shape and got her life together after college when she was in dead-end finance jobs by joining the Navy. I plan to come back to Wall Street with great more maturity focus and diligence than before.

I know many of you guys subscribe to the "if you don't have it now, you'll never have it so forget it" philosophy but I'm making a real effort at self-betterment here. I know the sacrifices I have to make on this path - I might fail. But if I have enough self-drive and diligence I think it could be a solid plan to get a second shot back at life.

These are actually some pretty solid reasons to pursue a commission. I joined the military mostly for the leadership and professional development opportunities. It sounds like you are really looking for an opportunity to reset your life. There is nothing wrong with doing that through the military, as long as you have a grasp of what the military is all about.

Jan 20, 2016

PM'd you.

Jan 19, 2016

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. It is important that you publicly advocate for and support ours troops. The reason this is important is because you want others to volunteer to fight for your freedom and be proud they did so. In the struggle for power, your means are best served by making others feel they have accomplished something big in the universe, such as honor or pride, when in reality, they have been in your service.

There is no better example than the military of what you should publicly advocate for others to do and you should never do personally. You should glorify military service because it serves your interests (or at least, 'when' it serves your interests). You should never serve in the military......don't die for someone else's freedom. The exception to the rule of never joining the military is if you are in a high enough position where you will never see combat and you are only moving your pawns/bullet sponges around on the board (like most Presidents, who are technically the 'Commander in Chief', but are in less physical danger than the average San Franciscan in overseas conflicts).

I know I will get a ton of MS for this comment, but I am drunk enough to tell the unvarnished truth. Most of you won't believe me anyway.

I would never let my kids join the military. That's for the kids of someone else.

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Jan 20, 2016

I walked into the Time Square Recruiting Booth (I work a block away) but the Navy isn't there and the 2-3 people in there only do enlisted. Officer recruiting is apparently somewhere else.

Anyway I am going to apply for OCS. I do want to serve. I hope to get a lot out of it but also hope to give a lot back. Honestly if I get killed, which is unlikely, at least it was in service of a great country and in pursuit of my dreams.

Jan 21, 2016
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