From the Military to the Marketplace post #2

Following Will

Post #2 covers:

  • How the road reports happen
  • Will’s education choice
  • Introducing transition guides

Will Coulter is in the driver’s seat of his post military life story. Every two weeks we also find him in his vehicle where he reports on his personal experience in his transition from active military duty to civilian life.

Will Coulter reports in from his road to civilian work and study success

Will Coulter family man, student, business owner

He’s allowed Military Success Network to ‘shadow’ him for the past 11 weeks since our first “meeting” on the phone to talk about how this series we call FOLLOWING WILL, might help others. Will and I speak every two weeks. Our posts may slide back and forth in time depending on what we end up talking about. (Read our introductory post)

It’s a kind of pulse check on his motivation, study and work choices and hallelujah, his steady progress in the business he now runs.

Our conversations takes place along the highway between his home base in Tennessee and Huntsville, Alabama. That’s the location of the intensive weekend courses offered by the Manderson Graduate School of Business where Will studies to achieve his MBA.

In Will’s reports from the road I can hear his growing strength in adapting the new language and formulas in business school and in the daily building of his business. Our conversation line stretches from that highway all the way to the west coast where I take notes and sometimes record our calls. We hope to share audio clips of some calls in future posts (delayed by this writer’s tech ability).

Techno blips cut our phone reception in pretty much the same geographic spots each week, but never our connection.

Will weighs in on his weeks’ work and studies. And, although he’s never actually asked for it, he gets gratuitous marketing advice and feedback, from me. It just bubbles up naturally when I listen to his journey and want to share bits of my own entrepreneurial experience and continuing education.

After all, we’re in this together

Will’s pursuit of his MBA follows on earlier interest in Financial Management, a course he began while serving in Afghanistan. Education at that distance and in that environment proved a challenge and will has chosen this in person course now to complete, stateside.

He investigated colleges programs that were “veteran friendly” and that he could swing financially. “I was looking for the education but I also knew I was signing up for big debt so the right fit was important to me, as was the potential payoff or my success afterwards.”

The time crunch on his new, multi faceted life was also critical.

“Deployment was clear cut. You were away and you worked in the role you had in the military system. Work life balance in civilian life is a challenge.”

Will Coulter enjoying civilian life in the heart of his family

Coulter Family

Finally, home from duty, finding real time to spend with his family, Will also needed to find time for all the bits needed to rebuild life that included: retraining, networking for information and opportunity and the immediate need to support himself and his wife and child. Practical access to studies was mandatory in this mix.

“In 2009, 2010, I started to look at the GMAT, the Graduate Management Admission Test . My undergrad degree was in Forensic Investigations, so I knew I’d have to update to continue with an Executive MBA.

I spent my own money taking the course. When I wrote my first practice test, I knew I wanted to aim for a better score to get me into the schools I wanted. More work was involved in getting to my goals.”

Will brushed up on Algebra, Geometry and other topics covered on the exam.

“Schools may say, ‘we’ll look at the whole individual’ as they process your application but I found the GMAT score was very important. Without a good score you weren’t even going to make the cut because ranking on the list is so competitive.

My advice to anyone is to pay attention to the standardized tests or entrance exams you’ll encounter. As an entrepreneur, I’m not going to be jockeying for a corporate job but I still had to get in to get the education I’m looking for. I want it to help me be successful in my business so I can in turn create jobs and look after my family.

The way the economy is, it is pretty competitive,” says Will of all the factors in his hunt for an academic partner in transition success.

“With graduate admissions they way they are, you’re going to probably be in heavy debt just for going to school for two years.

The application process can be pretty stressful. You have letters of recommendation and reference to submit. There are essays you have to write in a limited number of words where you are asked, for example, why you belong in the program.”

Will took the remedial classes, answered the questions, and filled out all the required paperwork. That and lots of left voice mails later, he secured his place as a student of business.

School started end of July 2012. It began with a kind of academic boot camp. First, accounting class covered every two weeks and with 3 weekends dedicated to each the course material.

“After Accounting, we took Statistics,” says Will. Permutations, formulae and probabilities entered his vocabulary.

By week #7, when we synced our conversations with his commutes, he was ready for the meatier MBA courses. His gateway to information on contemporary business models and best practices opened onto, surprise,  Calculus. Same pattern. Soon, he would add Marketing and Economics.

Next time: what a typical day looks like now for Will compared to his day in the military.

MilSuccessNet will post guides and expert blogs that support each step of a Veteran’s journey moving permanently from military to civilian milieus. Our first guide can be found here.

It’s based on pointers from job preparation experts involved with helping veterans move from the military and somewhat on Will’s experiences.

Comment below now and share what worked for you or what resources or strategy ideas you have, or would like to see to help fellow Vets get to the schools and jobs they need to succeed.

Got a story you want to share?  Let us know!




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