Military to MBA: veterans bring their talents to the business world
By Dushinka Malhotra
Starting an MBA program is a new experience for any student, but transitioning from the military to business school brings its own set of challenges and rewards.
Below, veterans and Gabelli School MBA students Douglas Quimby, Joshua Roden, Nicolas Fassieux, and Michael Tanner, all MBA ’19, reflect on their first semester as they gear up for the next.
What has been the most rewarding part of your first semester here at the Gabelli School?
Michael Tanner: For me, it’s the class structure. It’s a smaller class, and it’s filled with such diversity that you get to learn a lot of different perspectives from different cultures and different business experiences.
Nicolas Fassieux: I’ve been out of academia and in the military for eight years, and there was a degree of uncertainty [about] how it would be to go back to doing tests, essays, readings, and homework. Just the validation that you’re capable of this was rewarding.
Joshua Roden: I also appreciated the month-long orientation. Going to Argentina really kick-started getting us into the business mindset even without much of the background.
Is there anything different about business school from what you expected?
Douglas Quimby: I had a really strong undergrad [experience] here at Fordham, and then I decided to continue in the Fordham family and go to business school here. I wanted to know what my competition looks like. What’s my class like? Are they going to be older? Do they have eight years of work experience?
But we have a wide breadth of people: people with lots of experience, and then people with [less], and I fall somewhere in the middle, where I have this great military experience.
JR: I didn’t expect to juggle five or six things almost every day. I read about having to go to school, network, and look for a job, but didn’t think networking was such a big part of it.
NF: I like that Fordham has much more of a holistic approach to developing us as students and as MBA candidates. It’s not just academics: It’s how to network, how to interview, how to write your résumé right. So I think it was a welcomed surprise.
DQ: Another point to bring up is that the veteran community here at Fordham is strong compared to when I talked to [students at other New York City schools]. Matt Butler, Fordham’s director of military and veterans’ services, has done amazing things for the program. The veteran community in New York is so strong, but it is very segmented. He’s trying to bring everyone to the table—and they don’t have that at other schools.
NF: You’re absolutely right. I’ve been really impressed with what Matt Butler has done here, and it’s a great way for us as vets to get our foot in the door. We don’t have any civilian job experience, and it’s just a good transition out of pure military to school.
What are you looking forward to next semester?
MT: I’m actually looking forward to the spring consulting project. Being assigned this consulting project to make a real-life difference in an NGO or organization—I’m really looking forward to that and putting my name on something that could help a lot of people.
NF: I think this semester has been great at establishing a foundation for business school. Next semester, we start to branch out into our concentrations with classes that might be more niche.
DQ: Benjamin Cole, the MBA faculty program director, is offering the Blockchain course, which is revolutionary. We went to the Digital Evolution panel discussion on blockchain together and that was great, and I’m really excited to see where blockchain goes—and I’m really excited for that class.