Lieutenant Ernie Lietzan has been leading, managing, and aviating for a decade as a pilot for the U.S. Navy. Soon after returning to civilian life, the Navy veteran encountered challenges applying his experience to the demands of today's workforce. After discovering the Carlson School's commitment to supporting vets, the former pilot is now a Full-Time MBA student and is learning the language of business.
Lietzan applied his leadership skills and academic aptitude to excel in the Navy. Throughout his military career, he led teams in Iraq, the Persian Gulf, and Bahrain. He earned a bachelor of science degree in physics from the U.S. Naval Academy, then piloted the E2C Hawkeye, and performed operational tests on a new model of aircraft.
Following 10 years of military service, Lietzan made the transition to civilian life and sought a career in the private sector. But despite his impressive resume, the veteran experienced difficulty communicating his experience in a meaningful way.
"I didn't have a grasp of how my skills would be useful in the business world, I didn't speak that language," he says. "I didn't know what I didn't know."
An historic opportunity
Lietzan is one of 275,000 veterans and servicemen and women transitioning to civilian life each year. And many are looking to apply their military training to boost business. Recent estimates indicate 2,000-9,500 veterans may be seeking to enroll in MBA programs annually over the next five years.
The Carlson School MBA offers experiential learning opportunities that make the program a top choice for vets. Recently ranked in the top 15 percent of business schools for veterans nationwide by Military Friendly Schools, the school is dedicated to transitioning veterans and servicemen and women to careers commensurate with their experience and skills.
"I wanted to find a top institution to help me find those gaps in knowledge and fill them with the requisite knowledge to go out and succeed," says Lietzan.
Thanks to the Military Veterans Initiative, tested, talented and experienced vets have access to a nationally ranked, globally connected, and highly respected business education. The initiative provides financial support, internship opportunities, career coaching, and more to veterans and servicemen and women.
Translating leadership skills
Now in his second year of the Full-Time MBA program, Lietzan is filling the gaps he first identified upon returning to civilian life. His participation in the Consulting Enterprise is providing the experiential learning opportunities that will support his transition to the business world.
He is building a professional network, growing the Military Veterans Club to include vets from across the school, and interning with Polaris on the introduction of a new tire for militarized ATVs. He plans to reach out to the 15 vets who will join the MBA class this fall, up from seven in 2012.
"I'm the lone Navy pilot among six Army vets in my class. This year, there will be 15 new students from the Navy, Air Force, and Marines," he says. "I'm excited to help other veterans accelerate into the workforce here."