How does the business or engineering field value a degree from one of the academies?

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by dickerwin, Mar 1, 2010.

  1. dickerwin

    dickerwin New Member

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    My son is in the process of applying for the usna and the usafa. His main interest is engineering. I would appreciate any feedback from anyone with personal knowledge on how the business world and engineering world values a degree from an academy verses a four year state college.
     
  2. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    I received my degree from USAFA. I studied Mechanical Engineering. After USAFA I became a pilot.

    I received a Masters in Business from the Univ of NoDak...and kept flying.

    I left active duty for the AF Reserve...and couldn't find a flying job (nobody was hiring).

    I was hired, first, by an international computer company as a QA manager, then Director of Gov't Sales. I had done neither in my career. I was told by the CEO that they hired me because I was an AF officer and had attended the AFA.

    I was later hired as a Staff Electrical Engineer by Motorola. I am not an EE. Again, I was told "You have an engineering degree from the AF Academy...you'll have NO trouble picking this up and doing well!"

    And they were correct.

    I can't say how "industry" views a specific degree from any academy, however I can say from MY experience, it was a HUGE positive!

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  3. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    First, all SA's are on par with IVIES regarding the level of education. That alone should tell you graduates are sought after when they leave the military. Secondly, many more doors will open due to their military experience. Raytheon would much rather have a project manager (business degree) that has military experience than someone without military experience. Thus, not only will the doors to IBM open because of the SA degree conferred upon him, but defense companies will too. Third, he should start trying to complete his Masters as soon as possible. Realistically, pilots will have to wait for a couple of yrs because they will still be in "school" mode and it is not smart to burn at both candles, but by yr 4 of AD they should have enough time to start to get it done on the military's dime. This will open even more doors for them if they decide to leave at their first option.

    Good luck.
     
  4. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    It is huge. The service academy network is pretty tight. There are plenty of examples of Academy grads doing very well in the business world.
    These days - most people go to grad school. Even in engineering it can be difficult to get your professional license without grad school. The SA education is a great preparation for that.
    In the business world - you don't need a business degree for an MBA. Companies want leaders and Academy grads bring that to the table.
    One now famous example is Joe DiPinto - West Point grad; CEO of 7-11 and "Undercover Boss".
     
  5. Zaphod

    Zaphod Founding Member

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    It's worth a lot, but unless you are going to transfer into a truly technical field, your leadership experience post-USxA will actually be worth more.

    Either way, you can't lose. :thumb:
     
  6. TN Mom

    TN Mom Member

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    Were you encouraged to pursue professional designations while in the AF? EIT, PE, etc.
     
  7. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    I was not, but remember, I was and "am" a pilot!

    However once I was at Motorola, I was encouraged to get my PMP (Project Management Professional) certification (I did, as well as a Masters Certificate from GWUniv), and if I became eligible, my PE (I didn't do that).

    I know an engineer in the AF and he's gotten his PMP and PE while serving and his commander was all for it!

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  8. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I don't think the SA network really brings that much to the table when job hunting. The SA degree does, but I do not know of anyone that got an interview because they were a ring knocker. FYI, we know over 12 people this past 18 months that retired, @5 were ring knockers, and not one of them used the SA network for job hunting, they used their military connections. Not one of those ring knockers were offered jobs by other ring knockers.

    The majority get their jobs because of what they did in the military and those connections. For example, a pilot leaves the squadron to fly airlines, a few yrs later, you leave. You don't call a ring knocker who graduated from the SA to write a rec or pull you in, you call the pilot that you flew with to do that.
    Bullet went defense, the guy who recruited him a yr before he placed his papers in was a ring knocker. Bullet was not. Bullet did not seek him out, he sought Bullet out. It had absolutely nothing to do with the SA degree, everything to do with the fact of real military networking.

    The further you get away from the degree the less it will mean regarding employment. Your resume will show your degree, but at the point you are 1st able to leave, which is 5 yrs., they will be looking at what you did during those 5 yr not your university. You will not be asking for an entry level job, you will be looking for mid-level. You can have an Ivy degree and lose out to a state university grad because during that time they transitioned from student to worker in a better form.

    Most military members are sought after for multiple reasons. Look at a Lt. in the Army, they could have 200 enlisted members working under them, they will be more desired for that one thing than their degree. Look at the Captain working A &F, they are in charge of millions of dollars flowing in and out of any base/post, that experience is enormous, add on a Masters degree and they are shining to any CFO interviewing a candidate.

    THE THING THAT WILL REALLY GET YOU A JOB...SECURITY CLEARANCE AND RATINGS. Companies that hire ex-military are mostly defense and that clearance is a golden ticket since it saves them tens of thousands of dollars and also allows you to really start working much earlier. Ratings are in regards to pilots.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2010
  9. Chockstock

    Chockstock "Forever One Team"

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    Pima, could you explain what a "security clearance" is and how its related to getting a job?
     
  10. Bullet

    Bullet Member

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    Chockstock,

    I'll do you one better: I'll explain how a security clearance can get you a job.

    First, what is a security clearance? Pretty simple, its the US Government telling you (and the world) that they trust you enough to view secret information dealing with National Security. Get a Secret Clearance, and you're allowed to look at secret information, such as technical specifications, troop details, stuff like that.

    Getting a Secret Clearance is pretty simple (and is offered to you during your attendance at an Academy because you have the opportunity to attend Secret Level briefings and events. Not sure if it is REQUIRED (all you current cadets and folks more in the know, help a brother out here!). To get one, you need to fill out a form detailing past history and circumstances (questions like, "have you ever been arrested? Ever done drugs? Ever have money problems?"), proving to the government you are trustworthy.

    Now, there are levels of security higher than SECRET, such as TOP SECRET (and stuff even higher). To get one of THOSE clearances, the Government will perform a background check on you beyond just looking at your survey responses. Government agents will actually ask you for REFERENCES they can interview, and they WILL interview them (so be careful who you put down. Coach or teacher? Good choice. Life long buddy who will spill the beans about the time you all went cow tipping and broke that farmer's fence, just because he still finds the story hilarious? I'd keep his name off the list. :) ) Your life history WILL be examined, thoroughly! I mean, were not gonna just hand you the keys to the alien saucer in Area 51 without making sure we could trust you, would we? Ooops, shouldn't have said that! :redface:

    Also, clearances are only good for a limited time. 10 years for SECRET. 5 years for higher. EACH time, to have to update and resubmit your form, and EACH time you have to go through an investigation.

    Now, how can having a clearance help you land a job? Well, there are lots of industries that work with the government on "classified" issues. From engineers who design new weapons and platforms, to guys building a new Nuclear sub, to folks who even are designated to taking out the classified trash! This companies NEED people who have security clearances. The higher the job security clearance required, the more they want you, because those high level clearances are hard for people to get, and cost a lot of money TO get (due to the amount of investigation involved).

    When I retired, i had a VERY high security clearance level. And my clearance had just been re-approved for 5 more years less than a year before I retired. Put that fact front and center, in boldface, on my resume. Can't tell you how many company HR people saw just THAT fact, and interviewed me for the job on the spot!

    Now, I work in the Pentagon on the F-35 as a Defense Contractor. And having a security clearance was a large factor in why I got the job. (My dashing good looks, strong masculine profile, wind swept hair, debonair - devil may care attitude, and bright shiny teeth helped a little as well! :biggrin: )
     
  11. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ Member

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    I bet you slay dragons, quell rebellions and rescue damsels in distress too, just like my retired naval aviator husband's business card says... Pima's eyes are probably so rolled back in her head it will take a few hours for them to make the full circuit around. We need an Extreme Rolleye Smilie for that.



    Excellent posts from a variety of view points. The SA network is a superb asset, but an officer from any commissioning source, with a proven performance record, security clearance and wide range of professional connections, can do equally well.

    It's just sometimes easier when everyone who graduates from your "college" all go to work for the same "company" after graduation - instant network, that if properly cultivated, will bear fruit for a long time. A couple of examples... A new executive at a well-known tire company is an SA grad, put out the word to the HR department to start actively recruiting SA grads, as well as other JMOs (junior military officers) getting out at the 5-10 year point to put into manager/executive track. He knows exactly what he is getting, because of his own experience. A USNA '00 sponsor daughter heard of this JMO initiative through an alum who'd graduated in '98 who'd heard about it at a class gathering. She got the interview and the great job as a systems engineer, but she also had a proven track record of leadership and achievements. A sponsor son who did his SWO time and made the decision to get out, went down to FBI Academy at Quantico for initial interviews. Met a guy from his old company who'd graduated 2 years before, same club sports team, coming out of the men's room, back at the FBI Academy for a course. Instant re-bonding, lots of good intel passed on about how to prepare for hiring process, sponsor son got the nod for the FBI Academy. Again, he had impeccable performance record, clearances, etc. Funnily enough, this sponsor son immediately bonded with the 2 WP grads and 1 CG grad in the class, as folks who instantly got the whole thing about being plebes all over again during the six month course. Every JMO in that particular class got placed in the coveted Counter Terrorism division, because the FBI knew exactly what they were getting when they recruited JMOs.

    When I got to my first duty station, I knew absolutely NO ONE, because I went to OCS, and the odds I'd meet someone from the small OCS classes were low. An ROTC grad might know a few folks from his class, or run into a few more senior alumni from his school, at that first duty station or pipeline school. An SA grad is guaranteed to run into classmates, company mates, sports teammates from his/her own class year, as well as the 3 previous years before him/her, as well as be able to swap stories with more senior officers who graduated years before - in the training pipeline and at the destination duty station. The key will still be building good professional relationships with peers and seniors, coupled with a strong record of performance.

    EVERYONE eventually leaves the military, and staying in touch with those who have successfully transitioned to the civilian business world a few years ahead of you are part of the lifelong military connection.

    There are many good threads on here over the past year about how business values a JMO background, experience and clearance.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2010

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