It’s been three months since class first started in late August, and about one month since recruiting “officially” started. And in that time, I’ve been overwhelmed by how much this “transformational experience” has exceeded my wildest dreams.

Harvard Business School has developed a “passion safe” environment, and that extends to the post-MBA landscape. I am amazed by not only the assistance from MBA Support Services and Career & Professional Development, but also by the encouragement from the companies that visit campus.

As a career switcher, having spent the last nine years in the military, I feel like I’m starting from “behind” my classmates who come from the business world. And I often questioned if my skills would directly translate into those skills needed to contribute in “Corporate America”. Though examples of veterans in the business world such as Timothy Day, Bob Lutz, Bob Parsons, Kevin Sharer, Fred Smith, and George Shultz serve as encouraging reminders of a veteran’s ability to contribute, I still feel anxious about the first steps in the journey towards a new career.

My classmates and professors have been generous helping me understand the current business landscape and ecosystem, and develop an understanding of various corporate structures / lifestyle including business “vocabulary”.

They’ve taught me that it’s not okay to tell my classmates to, Drop and give me 50! when they use the wrong risk free interest rate to calculate a discount rate.

And the Career & Professional Development Office has been a golden resource helping me frame and translate my experience and accomplishments.

Lastly, every company that’s visited campus has been enthusiastic about my, and other veterans’, military experience. They’ve matched our willingness to learn with a willingness to teach us the fundamentals of their business. The Marine Corps has a standing commitment to return better citizens back to communities across the Nation. While I was on Active Duty, we all strove to fulfill that commitment. Now that I’m entering the private sector, it’s easier to envision the benefits that will come from its fulfillment.

I believe in the private sector’s ability to enable positive change within our communities and in the veteran’s ability to contribute values that have enabled our military forces to succeed under immense pressure over the last 12 years. One quality that’s defined many a veteran’s service has been passion and it’s encouraging to see that many companies are embracing of, and willing to leverage, the passion of a Vet.

-Ahron Oddman, MBA 2015