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by Daniel Flatley, 2Y 2018

Transitioning out of active-duty military life can be challenging. Being in the military, and in my case the Marines, is far more than just a career choice and 9-to-5 job. It is a way of life and an identity wrapped into one, and so trying to elegantly disengage from that way of life, while keeping that identity, is stressful and confusing. Business school is an obvious choice for many – it “softens the blow” of the real world and gives you time to replace skills like hiking under heavy weight with skills that are slightly more appropriate for the “civilian” world.

The Kellogg School of Management has been instrumental in smoothing my transition out of the Marines. As a Marine Pilot, I was “in” for a long time, and wondered how that would affect my chances to start a new career in a completely new context. I learned early on that, while I had unique experiences to bring to Kellogg, Kellogg was really good at aggregating lots of unique experiences into a cohesive learning environment. I was amazed at the caliber of my classmates, quickly realizing that “cool stories” about flying planes was not going to get me through business analytics, and that I needed to work hard to not only succeed in the classroom but at this novel thing called “networking.”

Fortunately, Kellogg has world-class resources to help veterans, like me, through this process. The cadre of professors at Kellogg bring a powerful combination of expertise and approachability, as they casually mention how they are being asked to help Facebook, or the International Monetary Fund, when they are not dedicating themselves to our learning. Kellogg’s Career Management Center teaches us vets how to leverage those skills we honed in the past (maybe still not hiking, though) and apply them to our future interviews with Apple or Goldman Sachs. Finally, the Kellogg Veterans Association, a potent student club, ushers us along the well-worn path from uniform to internship to full-time employment with practiced ease.

Sometimes it is hard not to laugh at how much has changed in the past two years. I could not imagine on that day in August 2016, when I donned a bright orange shirt, became a Kellogg “Moose,” and struggled with introductory finance that I would graduating soon and heading to McKinsey & Company as an associate. Kellogg makes trading your green flight suit for a regular blue suit as easy as doing “Moose Chants,” and I would take that over hiking any day.