Like many military spouses, I’ve struggled with unemployment and underemployment. I’ve worked in terrible offices, doing thankless work, with bosses who were less than stellar. My employment journey had been so rocky, I started to accept that ‘bottom of the barrel’ was my lot in this military life.
Then came a fortune cookie that changed everything: “Bide your time for success is near.”
And it was.
A few weeks later, I got a job offer that landed me here. Working for the National Military Family Association has been the best thing I’ve ever done. How often are military spouses fortunate enough to find and land a job that is portable, fulfilling, and that we love doing? The answer is barely ever.
If you’re a military spouse looking for a teleworking position, I have one tip: try to find a job in an office, rather than starting out at home from day one. It’s a risk, but I believe going to an office, forming relationships with coworkers, and being able to SHOW your worth as an employee in person is critical.
Of course, not every company or position will accommodate working remotely, so do your research before you apply. Do you know if the company has other remote employees? Does the job listing say they offer flexible schedules or telework days? If you aren’t sure, ask!
But what happens when you find a great job and get the go-ahead to work remotely when you PCS? Do the Pinterest fairies come during the night and give your home office a makeover worthy of HGTV? Umm… no.
For me, it took a few months to even get around to unpacking what would be my home office. I worked at my kitchen table quite a bit, and on other days, my motivation came flowing when I was bundled up in a blanket on the couch.
Teleworking takes discipline—and not just when it comes to checking off everything from your to-do list. Work and personal life are suddenly in the same space…literally and figuratively, and human interaction outside of your family becomes scarce. This is especially true if you’re PCSing to a place you’ve never been, or to an area where you don’t know anyone.
When my only interaction in a normal week was my husband, and the sandwich artist at Subway, I knew I needed to regroup. “But the sandwich artist is my friend!” I told my husband. I was delusional and in need of a good group of girlfriends to pull me out of my rut. I wondered if I was just one of those people who thrived in an office setting. I questioned whether I was still valuable to the Association, and ultimately, I asked myself, is teleworking really worth it?
Working from home can be the gold medal of military spouse careers, but it takes more than just waking up and walking into your office. Some days are so productive you think you can take over the world. Others seem like a win because you managed to change out of your pajamas before your spouse came home from work.
Don’t settle for ‘bottom of the barrel.’ If you love what you’re doing, set boundaries for yourself, and surround yourself with things (and people) outside of your house. Teleworking can be an awesome, rewarding experience for military spouses.