Most University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business Administration graduates do not end up piloting an Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon at more than 600 miles per hour while performing complex aerial maneuvers. But for Major Nick Krajicek ’00, the job of a lifetime presented itself due to hard work and lessons learned while attending the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
“I remember being pushed to be more confident when talking in front of my peers and I learned many leadership lessons,” said the West Point, Nebraska, native. “I became a much more confident public speaker, a tool I rely on daily as a representative of the U.S. Air Force.”
The desire to serve his country pulled Krajicek, who earned a degree in business administration, away from a career in business. He enlisted as an infantryman in the U.S. Army shortly after high school. After graduating from CBA, he attended Warrant Officer Candidacy School and began flying Army helicopters.
Eventually, he made the transition to the Air Force and began flying F-16s, serving tours in Italy and South Korea, taking part in airstrikes in Libya and deploying to Afghanistan. While in Italy, he became familiar with the Thunderbirds, and in 2015, he tried out and made the team.
“Being a Thunderbird is one of the most amazing jobs in the world. To be a part of this team is a humbling experience as we have the opportunity to represent the U.S. Air Force in a new location every week,” he said.
Krajicek pilots Thunderbird No. 4 and in the diamond formation, he tucks his F-16 directly behind the group’s lead jet. More than 280 million people in all 50 states and 57 countries watch their more than 3,500 performances annually.
While he left CBA long before “Start Something” became the official slogan of the college, Krajicek echoes the same mantra current CBA students follow to find success in their own lives and careers.
“Being a leader and a follower are essential to success in any organization. Teamwork is so important in a functional team solving a marketing rollout or a team like the Thunderbirds,” he said. “You have to be able to get along with everyone, participate and bring talents to the table to make the team prosper. In business and in the military, there are fewer spots the higher you go. Teamwork is essential to getting there.”