Getting Started: Mentorship
Today we host part 1 of a 3-part series that distills the best military-to-business transition resources into one comprehensive guide. The author of this piece is an HBS admit who prefers to remain anonymous. His insights are invaluable for those looking to transition out of the military into a business related occupation!
For those who are considering transitioning or have already decided to transition, but are unsure of which industry or function to enter, these articles will help. They build upon the “Military Career Path Decisions” series by aggregating information about programs that will allow you to better understand different industries and business functions.
For those who have already decided to transition to business, but will do so via an MBA, these articles will also assist with your process. Information about mentorship and company or sector exposure can help you craft your narrative and focus your efforts during school. They also build upon the “Transitioning to a Top Tier MBA” series by explaining the various support and scholarship opportunities available to aspiring MBAs.
This series focuses on understanding and exploring the corporate world, and does not specifically cover entrepreneurship. However, you can leverage some of the resources contained in this guide to help with entrepreneurial endeavors.
- Getting Started: Mentorship
- Why Mentorship?
- What Is American Corporate Partners (ACP)?
- How Does ACP Work?
- What Can You Discuss During Calls?
- Who Is Eligible To Participate?
- How Do I Get The Most Out Of The Mentorship Experience?
- Where Should I Begin With The Resume And Cover Letter Review?
- Gaining Exposure: Company and Sector Programs
- Other Resources
- Leveraging MBA Application and Scholarship Programs:
- Veteran-Specific Programs
- Other Programs
Have you decided to transition from the military and pursue a career in business, but have no idea of where to begin?
Your predicament is completely understandable: military folks are rarely exposed to the business world during day-to-day operations. While you could start to learn more about this vast subject by poring over books, articles, and other media, you may find this approach difficult given the varying quality and applicability of information out there.
Instead, seeking out mentorship will allow you to focus your efforts and provide some structure to the daunting task of transitioning to corporate America. Mentorship provides far more pertinent and actionable advice than simply consuming random information.
Meeting a mentor can be hard, especially if you don’t know anyone in industry. Fortunately, American Corporate Partners (ACP) is the perfect resource for you (and your spouse) to find a mentor who can help guide your exploration of the business world.
What Is ACP?
In their own words, ACP “is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting U.S. Veterans in their transition from the armed services to the civilian workforce. With the help of business professionals nationwide, ACP offers free mentorships for long-term career development to the veteran community.”
From our perspective, ACP is the ideal starting point for anyone who is transitioning to business, either directly into corporate America or via an MBA. You can use the insight gained during ACP to focus your recruiting efforts, inform your MBA application narrative, or improve a host of other skills.
Furthermore, this program also complements employment interests profilers (such as the My Next Move Interest Profiler) by allowing you to explore some of the recommended industries and functions in a low-threat environment.
How Does ACP Work?
Service members, service member spouses, and veterans are paired with a mentor for a year. During this year, the mentee and mentor are expected to engage with each other on a regular basis to discuss topics of interest to the mentee. Mentors come from a variety of industries and business functions at all levels of management, and applicants can request a specific industry, function, or seniority level when stating preferences of mentor.
ACP works with some of the largest American and multinational corporations in the world to bring veterans the best insight from leading companies. You can sign up for this phenomenal program here.
We recommend that participants request a mentor from a company in an industry or business function that they are curious to learn more about. If you are split between two industries or business functions, you can discuss your considerations and interests with the ACP personnel who will match you with your mentor for their advice.
Pairing applicants and mentors also depends on the availability of mentors, but ACP strives to match applicants with mentors who meet their desired criteria.
Some of the specific companies include the following:
For the full list of corporate sponsors, please click here.
What Can You Discuss During Calls?
From our experience, topics between mentees and mentors include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Career exploration
- Industry exploration
- Resumé writing
- Interview preparation
- Communication skills
The ACP site mentions these topics:
We recommend that mentees come prepared to each session by having list of topics or areas that they would like to discuss with their mentors. This provides some structure around the session and allows mentors to provide advice that mentees can apply during their search. Being prepared also means both mentees and mentors get the most out of each session.
Who Is Eligible To Participate?
ACP lists the following categories as those who can receive mentorship:
How Do I Get The Most Out Of The Mentorship Experience?
- Build a plan for the 12-month program. Planning will allow you to cover a wide range of topics and stay on-track to exploring the most relevant facets of Corporate America. Remember to incorporate flexibility into your plan so you can spend additional time where you need it most.
- Come well-prepared to each session. Having a list of thought-out questions for you and your mentor to discussion will allow you to achieve your 12-month plan. This is also good practice for future networking events.
- Conduct a resumé and/or cover letter review. Reviewing your material will help ensure that you’re on the right track for highlighting relevant experience and skills while avoiding jargon or technical language. You’ll need to submit resume for job and MBA applications regardless, so having your mentor take a look will assist either process.
Where Should I Begin With The Resume And Cover Letter Review?
Your resumé gives you an opportunity to showcase your skills and experiences relevant to working in the corporate world. Employers and business schools are looking for applicants to demonstrate their intellectual horsepower, work ethic, teamwork, and leadership abilities. However, if you’ve never written a civilian-style resume before, then you may wonder where to begin. “Transitioning To a Top Tier MBA: A Wharton Admit’s Guide to Veteran MBA Applications Part 3” lists several great resources for resume writing and we highly recommend all of them. These resources grant access to others who can critique your resume and guide your writing.
However, for starting out from scratch, the most comprehensive (and most cost effective) guide to writing a resume is contained in Victor Cheng’s Case Interview Military Thank You Gift. This guide costs $0.00 for service members and veterans. His advice is applicable for those going straight to corporate America or those applying to MBA programs.
Victor Cheng is known as the father of consulting case interview preparation, and as a former McKinsey consultant, he was deeply involved in his firm’s hiring process (so he knows a thing or two about resumés). He wrote comprehensive resumé and cover letter guides that can assist anyone transitioning from the military to business, regardless of the target industry. Victor Cheng’s example resumés even include a former Army officer’s resume with top-notch translation of that officer’s military experience into something understandable by hiring personnel.
Follow the steps in the link to access the resume and cover letter guides (along with case interview preparation and networking information). Normally, these products cost hundreds of dollars. Victor Cheng wants to thank veterans for their service and provides the products to us for free. Please be respectful of this great gift and only use the products for your own personal use.
It’s also worth mentioning that Harvard Business Review provides some good high-level advice here.
Tune in for parts 2 and 3 in the coming weeks!
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