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How can a veteran get a position (paid or unpaid) in an investment banking or large media firm without all of the qualifications?


Ja'sean Sanderson New York, NY

Some people's upbringings didn't position them for corporate success in early adulthood. Serving in the military and being from disadvataged backgrounds can put you behind the curve. By the time you realize the opportunities the world possesses and interests that you were never introduced to, it seems like you are in a hole and corporate success is on the outside.

30 July 2020 4 replies Career Advancement



Jeff Martin Ashburn, VA

I’d suggest that you network at the target company or industry. Use LinkedIn to find people already working there and reach out to them. Ask them the process they used to get hired and ask them to help you navigate the hiring process and if they are willing, ask them to submit you as a referral. These activities require much more time on your part but in my opinion would greatly increase your chances for success. Good luck!


Matt Johnson Chicago, IL

I read your profile and I feel for you since I had a liberal arts undergrad and realized in retrospect that it wasn't what I needed to pursue my passions outside of the military. However, you're not too late and you're not out of the fight. Being 28, you're actually younger than a lot of vets applying to B-school. Having 4 years of service also gives you the GI Bill, which is a huge monetary advantage. Here's some next steps:

Develop a job search strategy based on your interests. I recommend going to and downloading all their free career primers. Read through and develop a target list of companies by researching the competitive landscape, major players, responsibilities, benefits, hierarchy, etc.

Echo Gerald and Kiley - networking is key. On a tactical level, that means going on LinkedIn (Hopefully you're using the free year of LinkedIn premium for vets) and doing searches for people at your target companies. Search by past companies and add US Army, US Navy, US Air Force, US Marine Corps as well as graduates from your alma mater. Ask those folks for 20 minutes to discuss their roles and pathways into the company - they may be your advocates, help you connect with hiring managers, or help you cross the company off your list.

- I would also look into the Hire Our Heroes Congressional Fellowship - they offer paid internships at Blue Chip companies which is a nice value add for your resume.

You were already an NCO, so I don't think you need to be competing against undergrads with no job experience going after an analyst role. They're probably looking mostly at grades and school pedigree at that point anyway. However, there are pre-MBA internships for Guggenheim, GS, Wells Fargo, and a host of others - so why not try your shot at B-school? At least a third of applicants have humanities backgrounds and veterans are well represented at many top programs. Consider preparing an application for a Top 25 MBA program and shoot for an investment banking associate role. I say Top 25 because employers aren't necessarily recruiting from the rest and you want a quality brand behind your name.

The post 9/11 GI Bill (and Yellow Ribbon Program if you rate 100% GI Bill) can significantly reduce the burden of tuition and provide BAH at the E-5 with dependents level while you're in school. Chicago Booth and Yale SOM pay 100% of Tuition for qualified veterans. I believe Michigan (Ross), UC-Berkeley (Haas), Virginia (Darden), UCLA (Anderson), Texas (McCombs), and UNC (Kenan-Flager) have no tuition costs for in-state veterans either.

There's also plenty of options to finance your degree without debt even if you don't have 100% GI Bill or have limited GI Bill left.

Feel free to email me at and we can discuss this further. I know a few veterans in IB from my MBA program who can tell you about their experiences as well.


Kiley Pontrelli Morrisville, NC

Hi Ja'sean -

I echo what Gerald says. You can and you WILL make it happen!

Many investment banks, and corporate institutions in general, have a dedicated rotational program or internship for veterans to help the transition (teach the background and products of the company, help you network across the company and find what your interests/passions are). Check out Veterans on Wall Street.

I'd also recommend leveraging any/all resources you have access to - meeting people via ACP, USO Pathfinder Program, RecruitMilitary job fairs, LinkedIn, reaching out to the Veterans Networks of companies that you are interested in. Networking is SO CRITICAL!

Be willing to take opportunities/offers that aren't exactly what you might want to do long term, but that will get you a foot in the door, allow you to learn the structure of the company and network with people who can get you to where you want to be.

Wishing you all the best!


Gerald Mannikarote Houston, TX

This is understandably a challenging situation, but not something you can't handle. There are several things you can do. There are many companies that are proud to employ veterans. You just need to let them know your interest.
- Update your resume to include and highlight projects you have worked on in the military, not just your education.
-Update your LinkedIn to reflect the projects
- If you have any certifications, be sure to highlight those
- There are many LinkedIn, Google certifications you could consider completing to augument your education and make your education look more attractive
- NETWORK. Join a local Toastmasters, local church group, local veterans group, local whatever and get your name out there. Networking is the best way to meet people that know about job openings and get you connected. Leverage LinkedIn to network as well
- Volunteer your services- at church, local neighborhood, etc to create new experience. If you do a project related to your field of knowledge at a church, school, neighborhood association, you can put that down as experience.

I hope this helps. Wishing you success.
Warm regards,

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