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Thursday, November 24, 2016 at 12pm

From Military Intelligence to the ESMT Berlin MBA

Kasey Alms talks about her military MBA transition wth ESMT Berlin

Working in military intelligence is exciting, constantly changing, challenging and fulfilling. During my many moves across the US and my deployment to Afghanistan, I had built a military family as well as a wide breadth of knowledge and soft skills, such as fast decision making, presentation skills and leading teams. However, with little to no knowledge of the civilian business world, I questioned if any of my experience would be valuable when leaving the military. The idea of leaving my secure position as an operations officer and starting a new career in the business sector was exciting, but most of all terrifying.

When I decided to take the plunge, I knew I had two options. I could either 1) dive head first into the unknown and try to work my way up in a company like I had in the military or 2) go back to school, educate myself in business principles, and learn how to apply the management knowledge and other soft skills I gained as a military leader to the business sector.

I did what I always did as a military intelligence analyst – I looked at all of the probabilities, weighed up my options and the assets I had available and, in the end, I decided the best option for me was to get my MBA. This was not only to figure out how to translate my experiences into attractive qualities for employers, but to help myself discover where I would fit into the civilian business world as I pursued an MBA career. This is a huge hurdle and one that is often overlooked when transitioning. For people like me, the military is all we have ever truly known, so where do we fit in once we leave?

Deciding on a school to help with this military MBA transition is critical. When making my decision, I considered key factors, as any other MBA student would, but I also looked for a school which stood out in a few specific areas that I found particularly important: Small, diverse candidate classes, internationally orientated with local roots and great career services.

I wanted a small class because I felt I would have a better opportunity to have contact with my professors while learning business fundamentals in which I had no background. Additionally, I wanted to know all of my classmates, learn from their experiences and build up a new network. Most of all, I wanted them to be from all corners of the world because I knew the importance of diversity from the time I was deployed to one of NATO’s headquarters. I also looked for a school with great MBA career services because I was looking to change all three aspects of my career – my location, industry and role. I needed to be educated on my opportunities and how to land that job of my dreams once I found it.

ESMT Berlin was a perfect fit for me. My class is made up of 65 amazing people from 40 different countries. The professors were open to helping every student and everyone was able to participate. We also had the opportunity to travel either by visiting companies around the world, or by attending classes held at other business schools that are part of the Global Network for Advanced Management. Plus, most of all, we were able to build a network with alumni from ESMT, including MBAs, EMBAs and MiMs [master’s in management students].

With only one month until our graduation, I am so happy with my decision and I am looking forward to my next steps. I have found an amazing job in a leadership program that I would have never believed I would have gotten prior to this MBA. Not only have I made some lifelong friends along the way, but I can move ahead feeling confident that I have built a great foundation for my post-MBA career in which I am surrounded by an incredible network and equipped with the necessary skills for my next battle.

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