Navy veteran Michael Sanchez shares his transition story.
Michael Sanchez set a goal for himself: Upon transitioning from active duty aboard the most expensive submarine ever built back into civilian life as the assistant director for the Navy’s Wounded Warrior program, he challenged himself to gain admittance to one of the world’s top five business schools.
Sanchez’s goal would add another layer of difficulty to the already strenuous transition process, but with an impressive work ethic and guidance from FourBlock’s Career Readiness Program, Sanchez faced the challenge head-on. “I had to buckle down and work hard,” said Sanchez. “I put my life on hold for several months.”
Upon graduating from Florida State University, Sanchez earned his commission in the Navy through Officer Candidate School. He’d go on to study at the Navy’s Nuclear Power school and complete a three-year tour aboard the aforementioned fast-attack submarine, the USS Seawolf. Sanchez was then sent to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to be the assistant director for the Navy’s Wounded Warrior program, a job he describes as “very difficult and rewarding.”
Through this position, Sanchez would meet FourBlock Vice Chairman Chris Vasiliou, who introduced Sanchez to FourBlock’s Career Readiness Program, a course designed to equip transitioning veterans with the necessary tools to succeed in the workforce.
In an effort to attain his goal, Sanchez would go on to complete the program. He looks back on the course fondly, praising the amount of “self-reflection that is taught.” He added: “FourBlock empowers transitioning veterans with the confidence to speak with senior executives at its partner firms. In order for a transitioning veteran to gain the confidence to succeed in life after the military, that veteran must truly know what motivates him or her. I see FourBlock promoting this sort of thing a lot more than other organizations, and I think that it’s great.
“The other big thing about FourBlock’s curriculum that I have not seen anywhere else is the notion of building and marketing one’s own personal brand,” he said. “No one teaches this to transitioning veterans.”
However, there was one piece of advice Sanchez says stuck with him most: “I was having lunch with Chris Vasiliou to prepare for my business school interviews and he told me something that resonated with me. He said, ‘The WHATS and the HOWS are on your resume and essays. You need to tell them the WHY. Only when you can do this will your brand show and people will know that the answer you gave them is a Mike Sanchez answer.’”
He continued, “This is something that FourBlock teaches. ‘What really drives me? What really motivates me?’ Those may seem like trivial questions at first, but I challenge anyone to successfully answer those questions in a job interview or high-level networking event without having prepared. It takes some preparation and that is what FourBlock provides.”
Sanchez has since achieved his goal. He received invitations to interview at three elite business schools: the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, Harvard Business School, and The Wharton School. After some deliberation, he made his choice. “All of those schools are excellent,” he said, “but the community at Booth stood out to me the most. I was very impressed with how respectful and welcoming everyone at Booth was while I was on campus. My gut instinct was attracted to Booth. It just felt like home.”
Sanchez has already found success at Booth, recently being elected co-president of its Armed Forces Group. Additionally, after an arduous recruiting process for investment banking, Sanchez recently began work as a summer intern at Citigroup’s prestigious financial institutions group.
He leaves other transitioning veterans with this advice: “Continue to work hard. Just because you are a transitioning veteran, that doesn’t mean things will be handed to you. You may have done some great things in the military, but you are about to enter a new world. You can transition successfully, but it is going to require hard work and preparation. For me, that hard work and preparation involved hours upon hours of GMAT study, application preparation, essay writing, and mock interview practice for about 9 months straight. Start early and apply the same work ethic that made you successful in the military.”
Update (7/5/18): Michael graduated from Booth in June 2018 and quickly landed a job at Citi as an Investment Banking Associate.