Fridays from the Frontline: Veterans Pivot Career Paths at NYU Stern
In this edition of Fridays from the Frontline, NYU Stern Military Veterans Club Co-presidents Thomas Dunn (MBA ‘23) and Constantine Filipos (MBA ‘23) reflect on their transition from the Military to Stern.
From the Corps to Consulting
Constantine: I served seven years on active duty as a Marine Corps Infantry Officer. I spent the first half of this time as a platoon commander leading a team of 45 Marines and Sailors, and the second half as an instructor and advisor teaching military planning to senior U.S. Naval Officers and to partner nation militaries in South America. I realized the things I enjoyed most about the Marines were leading diverse teams, solving complex problems, and helping organizations to reach their full potential. I recognized a lot of parallels between these aspects of the military and management consulting, but knew that I needed to build my foundational business skills to make a pivot to the industry.
Change: Launch it!
Constantine: Leaving the military was a huge decision with life altering repercussions, so I wanted to ensure that I chose the right MBA program for my goals. The qualities that I valued most were academic excellence, access to career opportunities, and a strong culture. As I looked into various programs, NYU Stern stood out to me because it not only met, but exceeded my criteria. Additionally, when I contacted the Stern Military Veterans Club (MVC), I received an overwhelmingly positive and warm reception. The passion that MVC members had for Stern and their willingness to assist me with my transition spoke volumes about the culture of the school and demonstrated that students possessed both IQ + EQ.
Stern made the transition easier than I could have imagined through the Fertitta Veterans Program, named for alumnus Lorenzo Fertitta (MBA ’93) and his brother Frank J. Fertitta III thanks to their transformative gift to Stern. This Program allows first-year Veterans to start in July, where they take core classes while receiving tailored career coaching and early networking opportunities with target firms from various industries. This early start allowed me to feel confident and well prepared when the rest of my class arrived on campus for LAUNCH (Stern’s full-time MBA orientation), and consulting recruiting which kicked off a few weeks later. Reflecting on my transition, Stern is the best decision I could have made, not only because it has allowed me to achieve my career goals, but also because I know that when I graduate in May 2023, I will do so with a group of lifelong friends.
Tommy: I grew up on a farm in rural North Dakota. After high school, my two older brothers and I attended West Point. Upon graduation, I spent the next eight years in various roles around the world as an Army Officer. The Army was never boring. I beat my alarm clock out of bed most mornings because every day presented a new set of challenges. As the commanding officer of an Airborne Artillery Battery forward stationed in Germany, I found a career I loved and one that provided a strong sense of purpose. When I decided to pivot careers I discovered that many of the aspects I loved about my career in the Army also applied to management consulting. Both careers require solving problems with no clear solution, and both careers present a revolving set of challenges. Admittedly, consulting doesn’t provide the same adrenaline rush as jumping out of airplanes, but I was prepared to make that concession!
Change: Be It!
When I decided to leave the Army, I knew I was leaving a tight-knit community that would be difficult to replace. I saw an MBA as the best way to pivot career paths, but I was also looking for a similar sense of community as I started a new chapter of life. The culture at Stern exceeded all expectations I held of business school. Since day one, our cohort had each other’s back as we navigated the stressful days of recruitment and academic rigors of class. At Stern, I have continued to grow as a leader alongside my classmates as we develop a network that builds each other up and will give back for the rest of our lives.