By Katelyn Powell
First Lieutenant Nicholas Schroeder secures a top consulting position after leveling up his business acumen and people management skills
Around 1a.m. in a massive military training ground on the hilly countryside of Southern Germany, First Lieutenant Nicholas Schroeder hopped into a HMMWV and drove into cell phone range. Once he received a signal, he logged into The 12-Week MBA session and joined the cohort of other veterans, teachers, rising leaders, and entrepreneurs. To many, this may have seemed like a big sacrifice of time and sleep. To Nick, it was just what he needed to transition out of the US Army into a career in consulting.
Nick’s career path had always been service-focused. After attending military college in Vermont, to United States Army Airborne School, ranger school, and being stationed in the 1-4 Infantry in Europe as Headquarters Company Executive Officer (HHC XO), Nick knew he wanted to make the civilian transition eventually. But he wasn’t sure what that looked like.
“I started as an officer, focused on logistics, maintenance, and supervision. Then I became a platoon leader with even more people management,” Nick said. “For about two years, I’ve known that transitioning is what I want to do. But the only job I knew was the military. I needed The 12-Week MBA to figure out my next step quickly, without the price point of a traditional program.”
Nick never felt like he had to shop around for business programs. He knew quickly The 12-Week MBA was the right fit for him because it reminded him a lot of what he had been trained for – skills and tactics.
He describes his current role in Germany as “the biggest game of laser tag you will ever see.” With set rules, troops from all over the world come to his base to practice their defense, survival, and approach tactics. The units are asked to stress their systems against a much more qualified force. From stolen food, intense weather, and sleep deprivation, troops leave the training prepared for real life.
“It’s as close to real life as possible for a reason, but we use blanks instead of ammunition,” he said. “And The 12-Week MBA is a lot like that. It’s real without the risk. And I was really intrigued by that, so I applied.”
Positioning Transferable Skills for Veterans
Within just a few days of starting The 12-Week MBA program, Nick found confidence in the transferable skills he gained from military service. From leadership and communication to strategy, he realized quickly many of those foundational skills could be applied to business.
“The experience I gained in the Army actually helped me excel in The 12-Week MBA,” he said. “Once you understand the basics of finance, you don’t have to be scared of numbers. I needed The 12-Week MBA’s strategic overview to give me confidence that I could enter the business world with the skills I need to succeed.”
In addition to gaining business acumen and financial literacy, Nick was exposed to a wide array of business careers through The 12-Week MBA. Utilizing the program’s simulations, he saw how different roles within the same fictional company functioned, and he realized consulting was a real, possible option for him after completing his service.
“The 12-Week MBA allowed me to experience different roles in the business world. I was able to practice people management, communication, and budgeting. At the end of the program’s Capstone, I presented my suggestions for optimization in a real-world problem. I realized at that moment I could be a consultant, and I could be really good at it,” he said.
Creating a Business Foundation
Nick believes the versatility and experiential learning of The 12-Week MBA makes it a great fit for veterans.
He said, “A lot of vets go into a traditional MBA program following their service. What The 12-Week MBA does, as an alternative, is gives you a solid foundation in business without the cost of a two-year program. It also gives you the chance to test drive business school. Not only does that improve your hire-ability, it provides you a glimpse into the corporate world to determine if that’s even the right path for you.”
Nick also acknowledges the challenges of veterans entering the workforce. Because the environment and pressures of military service look completely different than the world of business, he said it can be difficult to know how to act, lead, or communicate in the civilian world. He found the cohort-based nature of the program helpful as a “reintroduction to society,” and a chance to work on a team in a professional environment rather than a battlefield.
“The military is based on training and extremities. That’s not something you experience in the real world,” he said. “Vets are prepared for the workforce in terms of soft skills, but they really need the business and financial knowledge The 12-Week MBA provides.”
After conducting informational interviews with several other veterans on LinkedIn, Nick interviewed with a top tier consulting firm. Throughout the interview process, Nick relied on experiences from The 12-Week MBA, saying, “The 12-Week MBA gave me business experiences I could talk about as a veteran transitioning into a business role.”
After graduating from The 12-Week MBA program, Nick was offered a Senior Analyst role at Accenture.
Gaining Business Acumen in 12 Weeks
Nick encourages other veterans making the transition to civilian life, emphasizing the unique position of The 12-Week MBA in the market.
He said, “The 12-week time commitment provides the direction and knowledge you need in a shorter amount of time than any other program. I learned more in 12 weeks of this program than you could imagine. It gives you the tools you need for success.”
One of the biggest advantages to entering the workforce after military service is what Nick calls the “blank slate.” Coming from a culture of terminology and intense systems, he believes veterans are actually well-suited for business careers.
“The 12-Week MBA is a great fit for vets,” he said. “The program gave me the knowledge and confidence to successfully transition from the military into consulting.”