Student Profile: Service Oriented
Jennifer Kasker '08
Major, U.S. Army
Co-leader, Veterans Club
Summer internship: Citigroup
When I was in the sixth grade my parents took me and my little brother to West Point to inspire him to go to there. But the place captured my imagination instead. I was drawn to the discipline and tradition, but even more to the idea of service. My mom likes to say the wrong child got inspired.
You could say I come from a military family. My father served in the Coast Guard for 30 years, mostly in the reserves. And my little brother is in the Special Forces ó he enlisted in the Army when his big sister went off to war. My husbandís also in the military. Weíre currently in a program where weíll go back to West Point to teach for three years. Iíll be teaching economics.
As part of the program, the Army pays for graduate school. I chose Yale SOM because of its mission to educate leaders for business and society. I am service oriented and it was important for me to find a school that shared in this and made it an objective for its students. I must admit coming here has been a bit of shock. Iím used to a regimented lifestyle, being up for physical training at 6:30 a.m. It can be difficult for veterans coming in, because whatís stressed in the military can be so different from the private sector. We come in with a lot of leadership skills, but we need to be taught how to market ourselves well. Iíve become involved in the Veterans Club, which has been an excellent resource for me. We've done a lot of "how to write your cover letters" and "how to do your resumé" pieces. I think itís a lot about helping each other along.
Iím military police. I spent three years in Germany and Italy, where I helped ferry troops to Albania during the Kosovo operations. Then I was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, for four years, but most of that time was spent in Iraq. I spent a lot of time in Tikrit, Samarra and Baghdad. We trained Iraqi police and we went out on a lot of missions. I had a platoon that patrolled the area between Falluja and Abu Ghraib. Another escorted fuel tankers through the Saladin province.
We worked very hard and it was challenging. You really had to keep people motivated. You'd try different ways to do it. You want your company to be the best, but most of all you want to keep your soldiers safe and you want to bring them home with you, the ones that you took over there with you.
I think it's a great responsibility, but I loved working with soldiers, because they're the ones that make you successful in the end. They're pretty amazing, when you think about it ó these eighteen year olds, straight out of high school, doing these amazing things. Overall, every little thing we did every day had some amount of impact.
Itís very different being back in school. But itís been really good. This summer Iíll be doing an investment banking internship at Citigroup. I think it's going to be a fantastic experience, because I'll be exposed to a lot of new things. And it will give me a good foundation of skills to bring back to the Army.
Interviewed on April 13, 2007.