Minnesota School of Business-Plymouth alumnus Chad Jakel spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy as a supervisor and manager on a unit of the Navy Dive Team. He graduated last December with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, and is now working for the Veterans Administration (VA) as a financial administrative specialist, helping fellow veterans resolve their debt. We recently caught up with him for a quick Q & A.
Question: Talk a little bit about your current job:
Jakel: I am a Financial Administrative Specialist with the Veterans Administration. Basically, I work in accounts receivable collecting debts owed to the VA.
Q: What’s your favorite part about your current job?
J: Talking to Veterans and helping them resolve their debts to the VA.
Q: How was the transition to civilian life after 20 years in the Navy?
Not hard at all. I was ready to do something new. Working a 40-hour week is like a vacation [compared] to the hours I used to work in the Navy.
Q: How did you wind up on the dive team? Was it something you had always wanted to do?
J: I used to love watching National Geographic shows with Jacques Cousteau diving all over the world and used to dream of doing it myself. I got the chance when I was in boot camp; they were looking for volunteers to be Navy Divers and I jumped at the opportunity!
Q: What kind of duties did you have for the dive team?
One of the biggest jobs I [often performed] was changing the propeller on submarines. My favorite job ever was diving on a sunken World War II tanker to drill into the hull and pump out the [remaining] oil before it deteriorated and leaked into the surrounding environment. The ship sat in 160 feet and the water was warm and clear. You could see the bottom of my ship from down below and there were tropical fish swimming around us as we worked; it was beautiful!
Q: What made you decide to go back to school? Did you get any credits under your belt while you were still serving?
J: I was always interested in accounting since high school and knew I wanted to pursue an accounting career when I left the military. I was able to earn an associate degree in the last few years of my career as online classes became available and made it easier for busy people to get their degree.
Q: What did you take from your career in the Navy to your current position?
J: Give 100% at all times, treat your coworkers with respect, be open-minded, have fun, be a team player, always look for ways to improve yourself in your job.
Q: Any advice for current students?
J: Earning your degree can seem overwhelming at times; just take it day by day, class by class, quarter by quarter and before you know it you will be graduating!