BTU #53 – Ben Vickery: Marine Corps Sergeant to Google Finance

“I think that the biggest thing is don’t sell yourself short. I see too many people getting out – on both the officer and enlisted side – that look at these really simple programs. They’re great programs that may have transition assistance to get you into certain career fields, or take that first available job, or do something – if you’re working in logistics – to go right back into logistics. But all too often people do it because it’s convenient, rather than because it’s what they want to do. And I think that by really realizing that you’re capable of looking at a lot of different things, and that you’re capable of working at a lot of different places – figure out what you want to do rather than what’s easily available.”
– Ben Vickery

Ben Vickery works at Google as a Finance Associate. He is also pursuing his MBA at Berkeley while full time at Google. He started out as Sergeant in the Marine Corps and served for nearly five years, including time as an Afghan Pashto Cryptologic Linguist at 1st Radio Battalion. After the Marines, he went to Columbia University and then on to Google. He also works as an Associate Instructor at Four Block, an organization that equips high potential veterans to achieve great careers at our nation’s top companies.

The top reason to listen to today’s episode is:

  1. Rockstar – Ben was a Sergeant in the Marine Corps. Since transitioning out of the military he went to Columbia University, and landed a job at Google as a Finance Associate directly out of Columbia. As if that weren’t enough, he’s pursuing an MBA at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business WHILE at Google. He has a great story of how he got there and what he learned along the way.

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Show Notes

  • 1:37 – Ben’s background
  • 2:13 – Ben’s decision to transition from the Marine Corps to the civilian world
  • 2:53 – How Ben decided to go to college vs. directly to industry
  • 3:38 – Resources and advice that were helpful for Ben in applying to Columbia
  • 4:31 – The internships Ben pursued while at Columbia, and how this helped him narrow in on what he didn’t want to do
  • 8:02 – How Ben decided to apply to Google
  • 10:56 – Advice for veterans thinking of applying to Google
  • 12:04 – How Ben prepared for his interview at Google
  • 12:51 – An overview of Ben’s role as a Finance Associate at Google
  • 13:40 – What Ben’s life at Google looks like on a day-to-day basis
  • 14:55 – Common advice Ben gives to veterans who reach out to him about Google
  • 18:33 – Habits Ben has tried to maintain – and break – from the military
  • 21:12 – Indications that a veteran may like life as a Finance Associate at Google, and indications that it may not be a good fit for you
  • 22:58 – Advice Ben would give to himself when he first left the Marine Corps
  • 23:54 – The ways in which Ben has felt ahead and behind his civilian counterparts
  • 27:18 – How Ben thought about the Reserves
  • 27:50 – Advice to those on active duty about what they can do right now to prepare for their civilian career
  • 30:40 – Final words of wisdom