Aaron Alexander Uses His MBA to Succeed in His Civilian Career

After spending 10 years in the nuclear Navy sector, Aaron Alexander, of Saratoga Springs, New York, decided to transition to the civilian sector. To do so, he knew he needed to pursue his higher education. His superior officers told him to “get it done” when it came to his education and to use his GI Bill® benefits to go back to school. With their encouragement, he decided to attend Excelsior College and earned his combined Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering Technology and Master of Business Administration in 2019.

Support System:
His wife
In His Free Time:
Studies Austrian economics
Secret Talent:
Making balloon animals

Alexander joined the Navy as an advanced engineman but after taking the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test and scoring high, his superiors recommended he go into the nuclear program. His background in nuclear technology allowed him to find a job in the civilian sector. He works for Global Foundries, a semiconductor manufacturing company, as a module section manager. In this position, he oversees a team of 22 technicians and engineers. He used to work 12–13-hour shifts, four days a week in the engineering department, but his job now is more manager-oriented. His main role is making sure everyone works together to get the job done. He says, “It’s bringing everything together to kind of accomplish one thing and keep production up.”

“I kind of want to see where else I can apply my skills and see what fits. I like figuring things out.” –Aaron Alexander

Pursuing an MBA with Excelsior helped Alexander as he transitioned into his new position. “I kind of picked up my skill set that I was learning in my MBA course and I became more appealing to the company as a manager,” he says, and adds he applies a lot of what he learned from Excelsior’s conflict management course to his supervisory role. BUS 311 Organizational Behavior also had an impact. “There were chapters in [the book] that weren’t even required reading. I read them anyway because they applied so heavily to what I was doing and leading people and understanding that aspect of the business.”

Alexander believes he is in a field that has a future full of possibilities. He believes nuclear power is misunderstood because people tend to think of disastrous events like Chernobyl and Three Mile Island. “We’ve come so far with our ability to control nuclear power safely, just in the past 10, 15, 20 years, that it’s got to be a part of our energy future,” he says.

Returning to school has allowed Alexander to thrive in his career and now he tells others, especially servicemembers, to go back to school, too. “Jump in and do it as soon as you can,” he says, adding that his only regret is that he waited longer than he should have to earn his degrees.

Alexander hopes to become a leader in the field one day and may add to his resume by pursuing Project Management Professional certification and taking the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam in the industrial and systems, mechanical, or other disciplines category. He isn’t ruling out going back to school or possibly becoming a teacher in the future either, because he likes to see what’s out there. “I kind of want to see where else I can apply my skills and see what fits. I like figuring things out,” he says.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at benefits.va.gov/gibill/.