On the first day of Pre-Term in August before our first semester began our cluster (about 220 students, there are four clusters in each class) was instructed to congregate by pre-MBA industry.
Having spent two years in finance after the Marine Corps, I consciously moved towards the finance group. This way I’ll stretch myself outside of my comfort zone and meet new people, I thought to myself. Big mistake. Nearly a year later, I still haven’t heard the end of it from the other veterans in my Cluster, despite counting them among my closest friends.
At Wharton, I’ve had so many opportunities to meet new people organically that I didn’t need to put forth that extra effort; the program is great at taking care of that for you. Further, I’ve encountered numerous fabled “stretch experiences” popularized at Wharton and thus, I didn’t need to purposely steer clear of my comfort zone.
You don’t want to spend your two years here encapsulated within a pre-existing comfort zone but during your transition to Wharton (for us veterans often compounded with the transition to civilian life) these aptly named comfort zones can be crucial.
Joining the Veterans Club
That is where the Veterans Club comes in. The Vets Club has been that place of comfort for me and the vast majority of the other veterans in my class during this new, exciting, yet sometimes anxious period of our lives. I truly believe it is the finest and closest Vets Club among business school programs. Whether sharing stories over a beer at the weekly MBA pub, or catching some laughs at our holiday party, my experiences with the vets community have brought nostalgia of the camaraderie I enjoyed in the Corps.
But the vets are much more than just a social group. Career switchers by default and eager to take the next step, the second years during my first year provided me with the professional mentorship and guidance I needed to effectively navigate the internship recruiting process.
Veterans at top-tier business schools typically comprise about 5 percent of each incoming class, and Wharton is no different. We have around 25 U.S. veterans in each class and a handful of veterans from other countries (e.g. Israel, Korea, Singapore). In my two years, I’ve met veterans from every service and our post–MBA pursuits are varied: consulting, banking, private equity, real estate, start-ups, health care, general management, the list goes on and on.
I think that’s what has been most helpful about being a veteran at Wharton–the fact that the program will prepare you to transition into whatever you want; there is no “mold” or defined career path for Wharton vets.
If you want to learn more about the Vets Club, check out our website.
Posted: March 18, 2015