By Chris Miano, MBA ’17
Co-Founder, Memory Fox
Former Operations Officer, U.S. Military
The transition from military service member to student can be an imposing endeavor. You may be wondering how well you will fit in and whether or not you will be able to keep pace with students who are fresh out of undergraduate school or seasoned working professionals who have returned to university to further enhance their skills.
For me personally, struggling mightily with the GMAT was the first and most prominent obstacle that made me a bit nervous about going back to school. I realized very quickly while attempting to prepare for this test that my brain needed to be “untangled,” (as I like to say) before I would be fully up to speed for school. Conversely, I was nervous about the prospect of how other students and faculty would view me as a veteran and what sort of baggage that would carry with it. Luckily, the University at Buffalo full-time MBA program, the university as a whole and my fellow students were incredibly helpful in easing this transition.
First, UB's Veteran Services Office is fantastic. They have been with me every step of the way in making sure my GI Bill benefits (also known as the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act) go through and for any other needs I may have. The benefits as a part of this act (established after World War II) include college tuition assistance up to 100%, which is essential for helping veterans “catch up” a little when starting a new career path.
Maureen, Ed and Dan (you’ll get to know them on a first name basis) have been fantastic and I couldn’t have asked for anyone better. It is natural to be a little overwhelmed negotiating the Veterans Affairs entitlement programs, but with the help of the team at UB this will be much easier. All you have to do is fill out a single sheet of paper each semester and they take care of the rest. Make sure you take advantage of the great folks here at UB to help get it all figured out. If you ever have any questions, start with Ed Draper — he’ll steer you in the right direction.
The UB MBA program itself is very military friendly. Since it is a management-centered curriculum, you will spend a lot of time learning the science of leadership and organizational behavior. You will feel right at home with many of these concepts that exist behind a lot of the practical knowledge you intuitively learned during your military experience. We even watched some videos of military leaders like George Patton applying techniques like leading change in organizations and building a strong organizational culture. In addition to the curriculum, the program staff are fantastic. From professors to administration to the Assistant Dean Erin O’Brien, they have all been uniformly helpful in both their positivity and understanding of the military transition experience. Most importantly, they’re just fun to be around. As a service member, you no doubt know how important attitude is. The staff in the UB MBA program all have phenomenal attitudes, making the transition much easier.
Here are some tips that will help you get through the first semester:
If you are undecided about the program, I hope this helps build a case to choose UB for your MBA. No matter how frustrated I was with studying and trying to understand the material, I never once regretted choosing UB and this program.