Since I’ve been getting a lot of questions about JMO recruiting, I think it’s about time I shared my experiences working with Cameron Brooks.
The whole experience is a carefully scripted drama, they need you, you need them, they don’t want you to go to grad school, you are secretly applying to grad schools, etc. The bottom line is, firms like Cameron Brooks get paid (roughly $10,000 according to my sources) per candidate that they successfully source to Corporate America. So from purely an incentives point of view, they are financially incented to make sure that you go to one of the companies that recruit from them.
That being said, I still believe JMO recruiting companies provide significant value. Recently separated or transitioning veterans are no different from recent college grads, probably even worse. Recent college grads can afford to experiment with a few different jobs and career paths until they find the one they want. Transitioning veterans don’t have that luxury. That’s where the JMO recruiting companies come in. They point out a few books you should read and try to give you a general sense of what the major grouping of careers are like: sales, manufacturing, consulting, operations, etc.
In addition, as a veteran candidate, there are no other way you can possibly meet and interview with so many Fortune 500 (more often Fortune 100) companies within a 48 hour span. Companies like Cameron Brooks (CB) have been helping veterans get jobs for a long time and a lot of CB alumni come back to CB to hire other veterans. I really admire this business model as veteran candidates don’t have to actually pay for anything, besides the ticket and hotel to the hiring conference.
On the flip side, I don’t think most JMO recruiters can really articulate why you need or don’t need an MBA. Mostly, they just tell you not to do it for obvious reasons. In my opinion, getting an MBA (or other graduate degree) and getting a job through a JMO recruiter are equally good. It really depends on what you want to do. For example, if you want to get into finance (Wall Street finance, not Johnson and Johnson corporate finance), you definitely need to get a MBA from a top-10/15 business school. Also, some top companies don’t use JMO recruiters – like Amazon, Booz Allen Hamilton, Deloitte, etc. Some companies only hire MBAs – McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, etc. You would have to apply directly to them. However, if your ambitions do not lie in entrepreneurship, finance, or a specific company like Amazon or McKinsey, then I wouldn’t even say you really need an MBA.
If all goes well, you find out that you really like the company you are in and you really like the work you are doing, then you can start building a reputation and move up the ranks. You can do an Executive MBA later on in your career. Statistically speaking (or more accurately, anecdotally speaking), the veterans that I have spoken to generally dislike their companies and/or industries. I believe this issue is systemic, and the problem lies with the fact that JMOs typically get more leadership experiences than a typical 25-30 year old would get, and there are few, if any, civilian jobs that can replicate that. Every JMO I have met, MBA or not, have complained about the decrease in executive leadership power. That is because true executive power lies more down the road, in higher positions.
The true issue at hand is veterans not acknowledging the gap between in their capabilities and the lack of jobs that require such capabilities post separation.
In conclusion, going with a JMO recruiter vs. a MBA post-MBA isn’t going to materially alter your ultimate long-term plan. If anything, you can get a MBA after getting 1-2 years of experience, although this will probably lead into a discussion on how business schools view veterans with corporate experience. The hardest part of the whole transition process is figuring out what you really want to do in life. I’ve been out of the Army for 18 months and I’m still struggling with the “right” answer and my answer is that I think you should get away from it all for a month and do some serious self-reflection. The major issue with the increased op-tempo due to war is that company, battalion, and brigade commanders don’t have enough time to reflect upon what they did well and what they could improve on. Most veterans jump straight into an MBA or a corporate job after separation. I think it takes time to process what you have gone through, to figure out where you want to go, and how to get there.