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Fridays from the Frontline: Reflections from a First-Year MBA in NYU Stern’s Fertitta Veterans Program

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Military men and women develop skills that translate from the trenches of warfare to the boardroom and beyond. Due in part to fellowships like the Yellow Ribbon Program, veterans have become a growing presence at business schools across the country. At NYU Stern, the Fertitta Veterans Program is a unique scholarship that reduces the tuition of 20 incoming full-time two-year MBA students to just $30,000 per year.  With Veterans Day around the corner, we touched base with military veteran and first-year full-time MBA student, Natalie Ashbridge, to hear about her first months at NYU Stern and making the transition to business school.

Fridays from the Frontline: Reflections from a First-Year MBA in NYU Stern’s Fertitta Veterans Program

by Natalie Ashbridge, NYU Stern ’21

Leadership in the Marines

I’m second from the left; this is from an exercise we did with the UAE in 29 Palms, Dec 2014.

I joined the Marine Corps after graduating from college and spent four years as an active duty logistics officer stationed out in Twentynine Palms, CA. It was an incredibly formative time, and I grew up a lot in those four years. After my time in the Marine Corps came to an end, I worked for several years in operations/logistics-related roles before coming to business school.

The military was a unique experience because you lead and manage people at a very early stage in your career; responsibility is the norm and as a young officer, you’re in charge of millions of dollars’ worth of equipment and peoples’ lives. It is a privilege, and the opportunity to lead Marines was the highpoint of my career.

While I had this perspective, I wanted to learn more about business as a whole and expose myself to areas in which I had no previous experience, such as finance, marketing, and strategy. Hence my decision to go back to school. It feels great to be back in school and I am so grateful for this opportunity. Stern was my top choice immediately, and its Fertitta Veterans program, which supports military vets and active duty students in their transition to business school, is extraordinary.

Making the B-school Transition

Four veterans enjoy a New York City harbor cruise

When I applied to schools, I intentionally targeted schools that actively recruited veterans and attended several veteran summits throughout the application process. I only applied to schools that did events like these because a) it showed the school was committed to finding quality veterans and b) it gave me a sense of what my potential veteran classmates would be like.

I attended the Stern event and was very impressed by the school and the quality of the people I met. The Fertitta Veterans program was the icing on the cake; this program is one-of-a-kind, and I knew I would be hard-pressed to find a commensurate program at another business school.

The Fertitta Veterans program thus far has been an incredible experience. Not only did we finish two classes during the summer before the fall semester started, but we also learned about industries and companies through a series of treks every Friday. We visited Google, Mastercard, McKinsey, Citi Bank, JP Morgan, and others. Furthermore, starting in the summer helps ease the transition back into civilian and school life.

While I’ve been out of the military for several years, a few of my classmates were still on active duty when we started in July. The summer was instrumental in getting back into an academic mindset; it has been eight years since I’ve been in school, so it was nice to ease back into a classroom. It provided a lot of direction when it came time for on-campus recruiting and it sets you up for success when it comes to networking. The corporate visits provided a lot of context in terms of which track we would recruit for, and on a more tactical level, it gave us great networking practice prior to the onslaught of recruiting events. Most important, our group really bonded over the summer. The program is a great way to build our cohort. My classmates are great resources, especially since we are now in the throes of recruiting.

Jonathan Pfeffer
Jonathan Pfeffer joined the Clear Admit and MetroMBA teams in 2015 after spending several years as an arts/culture writer, editor, and radio producer. In addition to his role as Contributing Writer at MetroMBA and Contributing Editor at Clear Admit, he was also a co-founder of the Clear Admit MBA Admissions Podcast. He holds a BA in Film/Video, Ethnomusicology, and Media Studies from Oberlin College.