After spending five years in military schools and seven years on active duty in the Navy, I was ready for a change and optimistic about the future. For the first time in my adult life, I was going to join the civilian workforce. I had my suit, briefcase (ok, just a backpack), company-issued laptop—the whole nine yards. I had a new career opportunity in financial services. On top of that, I was moving to a new state, and I was willing to dive headfirst into learning new skills in a new environment.
Transferrable Skills from the Navy
My previous career as a surface warfare officer—a job in which I navigated ships, led sailors, and recruited the next generation of Naval Officers—prepared me well. I could learn things quickly and was comfortable with the unknown and the ambiguous. Starting my second career in a rotational program at a large bank seemed like it would be a great fit. Multinational banks are big institutions with well-mapped hierarchical structures that can provide a secure and fulfilling career. All things that echo the Navy and appealed to me as I made my first big career jump.
However, I quickly realized that although I felt comfortable managing new jobs, people, and change, there were gaps in my knowledge that would have to be filled if I truly wanted to accelerate my career. Accounting, finance, corporate strategy… the list goes on. In my first year at the bank, I wanted to participate in bigger and more complex projects but needed additional knowledge to master the concepts I would read in briefs or hear in meetings. How on earth did these people determine which projects to undertake or the return on different institutional investments?
I wanted to be able to fully understand how the company I worked for operated and made important decisions. It did not take much research to figure out that the best place to gain the knowledge I required was business school. Because I wanted to continue garnering real-world experience, the Weekend Executive MBA program was a perfect fit. Before I knew it, I was sitting in class on day one—excited and eager to learn.
Building Business Acumen
In the Navy, I had little to no exposure to subjects like managerial accounting or financial management, but I am able to learn about them now at Fuqua. All while sitting in classes with 140+ other professionals who are filling the gaps in their own unique way and interested in accelerating their careers, just like I am.
After a long week at work, leaving to attend three days of classes on my weekend should feel daunting. There are months when I am not looking forward to the long drive to Durham on Thursday night for class Friday morning. Those feelings disappear once I’m on campus and reconnect with the people I am proud to call classmates. Team Fuqua may sound like just a catchphrase, but our cohort is truly a bonded team unlike any other. One that will have your back as you take on whatever challenge shows up next.
As an early to mid-career changer, the Weekend Executive program fits the bill in every possible way. Now I understand and can talk the language of corporate America. I can reach out to others in the extensive Duke network to research new and exciting fields. Best of all, I have truly made friends for life.
Fuqua has checked all those boxes for me in ways I could only have imagined a year ago. I could not be happier to call myself a Weekend Executive MBA student and a Blue Devil.