This is the single most important part of your business school application. As you write your essays, you will need to come up with compelling reasons/answers for: why an MBA, why this school, why now, what you bring to the table, and how this school will help you reach your career goals. This takes time and should be tailored to individual schools. This is easier with three or four stories that relate your transferrable skills and that your grandmother would understand. In writing these stories, you have to assume that the person reading you application has no understanding of what the military does, what your job was, and what you actually accomplished. They should probably not read like your evaluation reports and may be largely unrelated to it. Develop your personal “value proposition” (i.e. what makes your military leadership experience unique) and focus on highlighting aspects of your background that are “business school relevant.” All the while, be conscious of the commonly held stereotypes of military-style leadership (e.g. hierarchical, authoritative, etc).
As far as a career path goes, they need to know that you have put some thought into it. If asked in an interview, you need to be convincing. The admissions committee will be looking at your application through the eyes of potential employers – “Is this applicant someone we will be able to place?” That said you are not tied to that path once you are accepted. A lot of your classmates will use their MBA degrees to make a career transition. With a military background, consulting, operations, and general management roles seem to be the most common options, but there are many others to consider as well. Regardless of the path, it will be in your best interest to start networking early and talk to people who have followed career paths that potentially interest you. Finding a Veteran to speak with is preferred, as he or she has faced the similar challenge of transitioning and will likely be willing to offer another Veteran more candid advice. If your plan changes after submitting your application, it may be in your best interest to tailor the existing plan based on something new that you have discovers rather than propose a completely new idea.
As far as industries go and possible options, consider the following example. If you are a pilot, it means that you might have an advantage in the aerospace/defense industry. You would not have to go there when you are done with your degree, but it is an option. In some ways, it is potentially a safer path to follow in the event that nothing else works out. It is up to you to craft that path and an MBA can make it easier. But ask around. Arguably half of an MBA is what takes place outside of the classroom. You may be able to get the job that you want without getting an MBA and you would want to know that before investing two years of your life. For example, if you wanted to be an airline pilot, then an MBA may not do a lot of good. This is one of the reasons that starting the application process earlier is better. Your story will change the more you figure out and will likely get stronger through the process. Bottom line, you will need to identify transferrable skills that someone foreign to the military, i.e. the admissions staff or an interviewer, will understand. As you apply to Haas, consider how your narrative fits with the defining principles of the school: question the status quo, confidence without attitude, students always, and beyond yourself. I would not necessarily be explicit and call these out, but it would be wise for your narrative to be consistent with them.