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Leaving the Air Force for Something Other than the Airlines

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ClearedHot    1,161

Networking starts with what type of Bro you were on active duty.  I am FAR from perfect but always tried to take care of everyone around me and be a team player.  I mentored and helped people whether they were career types of one tour and out.  In short, I did my best not to be a douche.

When I dropped my papers I told a few folks who put the word out for me. 

My suggestion would be to call your friends, tell them you are getting out and ask for input.  You will be shocked at the positions that are out there and word of mouth and reputation drives the key jobs.

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I'll chime in with my thoughts although I think my specific experience is probably less relevant. I'm happy to give details on my career and path here but I can count on both hands the number of veterans I know in my entire industry so it might not be that helpful. 

That said I have some general thoughts on civilian life. First, I think it's worth saying that when it comes to the trade off between pay and work/life balance the airlines are really hard to beat. That doesn't make it the right answer but it is worth keeping in mind. All of my peers who make decent six figure paychecks work 10-12 hours a day and many either travel a lot or work weekends. If a company offers free breakfast and dinner as a perk it isn't because they are nice, it's because they expect you to be at the office before breakfast and still working after dinner. I chose money over balance but it was an explicut choice that I knew I was making up front.

If you are getting out after your commitment, not retiring at 20, both consulting and investment banking love military vets. They tend to hire young so I'm not sure they are viable options after a full career. Investment banking is a brutal grind but if you don't mind the hours it is pretty much a guarantee you'll make $300-$500k mid-career with the possibility of much more if you make Managing Director. The hiring cycle is fairly standardized and there are a number of groups/programs targeting vets. Vets on Wall Street is a good one, I also second whoever recommended ACP. I didn't get my job through them but they paired me with a great mentor who introduced me to lots of his contracts. Goldman Sachs has a veterans internship program each year and if you aren't a screwup you will get an offer for a fulltime job.

Consulting is good because it opens up options if you don't really know what you want to do. Most people who start at the big firms, McKinsey/Bain/BCG are the favorites, only stay for 3 or 4 years. After that you will have worked on 5 or 6 projects with different companies in different industries and you'll have a good idea what's out there. If the consulting lifestyle isn't for you it's very easy to transition to a management role at one of the companies you consulted with. If you have a family this is a tough path because consultants are the people keeping the airlines in business.  Normal month will have you on the road Mon-Thur 3 weeks a month.

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matmacwc    1,093

Even the Goldman Sachs Elevator (GSE, google it for hours of entertainment) guy makes a comment that late bloomers aren't really welcome, unless you were military. Specifically he says fighter pilot, but you get the idea.

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Flaco    94
On ‎9‎/‎10‎/‎2017 at 3:40 PM, matmacwc said:

Even the Goldman Sachs Elevator (GSE, google it for hours of entertainment) guy makes a comment that late bloomers aren't really welcome, unless you were military. Specifically he says fighter pilot, but you get the idea.

 

On ‎9‎/‎10‎/‎2017 at 8:20 PM, nsplayr said:

The book by the GSE Elevator guy is really hilarious, highly recommend.

Thanks for point out, I haven't laughed that hard in a while. I thought this was one of the best quotes:

"Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the obedience of fools."

He didn't credit the source, so I had to look it up. Go figure, a fighter pilot said it...

Sir Douglas Bader, a WWII RAF ace. It is also sometimes attributed to Harry Day, also of the RAF.

More importantly, I wish we had leaders who understood this quote.

 

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bfargin    33

It would take a little time and commitment to get your PhD but the life of an academic is pretty nice. I didn't have the option to do the airline gig when I got out of the AF and to be honest I wasn't sure what was in store for me. I ended up going to Vandy and getting my MBA and then working in industry for four years before I decided sitting in an office all day was not my cup of tea. I then decided to go to Pitt and get my PhD (business with emphasis in information systems and telecommunications) and haven't looked back. If accepted to a decent PhD program, you will receive free tuition and a living stipend. The stipend isn't much but is usually in the $1500 to $1800 a month range. If you have the GI bill available, it would probably be livable for the 3 to 4 years you are on campus.

If you choose a business discipline your pay will start minimally in the low 100,000 range, even at regional state universities. Most other disciplines (even engineering) pays lower than the main business disciplines of accounting, management, information systems(including analytics), economics, finance, marketing, etc. So, you won't become super wealthy, but the work life balance is outstanding and the pay is very livable. I chose to move back home to middle TN where the cost of living is pretty low and weather is mild. Even with the research requirements of academia there is little work related pressure (I am at a regional state school and not a top tier research university) and plenty of time to pursue outside interests. At a top research school there is more pressure to publish at top rated journals so the stress levels would be higher. If you are willing to spend the 4 years earning your PhD it is a great gig and while college students at times will drive you crazy, they also keep you challenged and motivated to not lag behind on current events and current technology.

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Kenny Powers    175

So what if you don't want to go to the airlines or get a PhD, want to be home every night, and don't want to work 16 hours a day? Fighter type with engineering degree/experience.

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HossHarris    525
53 minutes ago, Kenny Powers said:

So what if you don't want to go to the airlines or get a PhD, want to be home every night, and don't want to work 16 hours a day? Fighter type with engineering degree/experience.

Walmart greeter. 

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ihtfp06    291
So what if you don't want to go to the airlines or get a PhD, want to be home every night, and don't want to work 16 hours a day? Fighter type with engineering degree/experience.

Sim instructor

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JeremiahWeed    117
21 hours ago, Kenny Powers said:

So what if you don't want to go to the airlines or get a PhD, want to be home every night, and don't want to work 16 hours a day? Fighter type with engineering degree/experience.

ATAC adversary pilot?

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