Tag Archives: employment

Being #MoreThanASpouse is More Than A Mantra

When we entered the world of military service, now, almost five years ago, I set aside my part-time career as an adjunct English instructor at my alma mater.


This was a job I enjoyed for almost eight years; a job for which I trained; a job for which I earned a Master’s degree; a job for which I strategically planned to coincide with motherhood; a job for which I spent many hours perfecting my craft and aiming to competitively stand out among my peers. This was a job where I made a difference in the lives of hundreds of college students on their path to a bright future, full of promise.

I felt fulfilled by and called to the profession of teaching. I enjoyed having my foot in the working world while my children were young. I felt validated earning a paycheck and contributing financially to our family’s future.

When my husband commissioned into the Army, I set aside my career with feelings of simultaneous willingness and disappointment. I was willing to do my part as a wide-eyed military spouse and yet, part of my heart was left in the classroom alongside the SMART Board, dry erase markers, and composition notebooks.

I consider myself a positive person, a supportive wife, and a woman who longs to make the world a better place. It was with this same bravado that I embraced my role as a chaplain spouse, cavalry wife, and dependent (as we spouses are so often namelessly called).

During those first three years at our inaugural duty station I poured the same amount of passion, work-ethic, and heart into my new role. I sincerely enjoyed my endeavors in unit leadership, chapel ministry, and the work of being the steady, always-available default parent and partner in our home. I wasn’t earning a paycheck, but my payment for this hard work came in the form of hugs, high-fives, ‘atta-girls,’ and certificates of completion for all manner of Army Family Team Building (AFTB), Key Caller, and Care Team trainings.

During that season, I know I was absolutely fulfilling the roles I was called to be filling. I served as president of a women’s ministry, homeschooled our three children, taught Sunday school and a Bible study, organized a LEGO camp, did some freelance writing for a local business, and I kept the home fires burning during my husband’s deployment to Afghanistan. I faithfully attended more than my share of spouse coffees and unit functions; all with a smile on my face, and all while wearing the appropriate pin and insignia over my honored and satisfied heart.

mtas-mantra-2As efficacious as those years were, there was also a complex sense of anonymity that I sensed. Sometimes among a roomful of people, I’d feel alone. One of the great disappointments of military life is that we don’t always really, truly, and deeply get to know those we are serving alongside.

As a life-long overachiever, I often wanted to make sure people around me knew that I was capable, trained, educated, smart, available, or as the National Military Family Association’s campaign suggests, #morethanaspouse. I have gifts, talents, and abilities of my own. I’m not just a wife, spouse, dependent, or sidekick to my soldier. See me! Notice me! Take advantage of my skills, my expertise, my competence and qualifications!

Unlike our beloved service members, I don’t wear my rank, experiences, or education on my sleeve or blouse. Whether you know my husband or not, you see part of who he is based on his visible Army flair. As a spouse, you may never know how awesome I am unless you get to know me and I share with you my credentials and personal narrative. That’s the world we live in as military spouses.

Most of the time, most of us are mostly okay with this arrangement. Most of us are resolved to being in the shadows and in the background. We’re mostly cool with being the wind beneath our soldier, seaman, or airman’s wings. Most of us are comfortable with setting aside our passions and dreams for the call of duty. We feel proud to support the missions of our spouse’s career, the military, and our great country!

Very recently, however, I experienced an unpredictable and long-suppressed sort of pride.

Our family is now onto our second duty station and in the midst of “savoring the lull” of a slower op-tempo. I applied for and accepted a part-time job that morphed into a full-time teaching gig. I’ve found myself holding class in the college classroom again and I’m overjoyed. Here are a few of the top reasons why:

I’m thrilled to have an employer who took a chance on me despite reading a vitae full of professional and volunteer experiences from three different states in less than four years. Tennessee, Georgia, and Texas endeavors all enumerate my resume and speak loudly and clearly to a life that won’t be settled in one place too long. (If you are a military spouse, you know this is a real crisis plaguing our employability as dependents.)

I’m ecstatic to be earning a paycheck that is commiserate with my education and experience. I’m not above taking a minimum wage job if necessary, but my pay should reflect my background, training, and work history. For the first time in a long time, I feel valued and motivated by financial success.

I’m delighted to be getting some personal, positive feedback from my students, inquiries about my successful methods and practices from my peers and colleagues, and occasional accolades from my superiors. I don’t work hard simply for the praise, but it’s nice to be complimented and recognized by others for a job well done.

And ultimately, I’m elated that for the moment, I know that I am #MoreThanASpouse. It’s not just a mantra I’m repeating in my head; it’s not just a cry of my heart. Presently, I am in a role where others see me, where I am flourishing, and where an actual paycheck validates that I am, indeed, more.

Reality tells me that this job, this duty-station, this wave of professional fulfillment isn’t permanent. I know that it is finite; it has an expiration date. I know we will be moving again before I know it. But for now, during this academic year (and possibly one more) I am Mrs. Wood.

I am an English instructor. I am a teacher. I am an encourager. I am a leader. I am an influencer. I am a coach. I am a mentor. I am a preceptor to a group of nearly 140 college students. I am #MoreThanASpouse.

What’s your #MoreThanASpouse testimony? Share it with us!

claire-woodClaire Wood writes about her own struggles to make sense of military life at www.elizabethclairewood.com and she has recently released her faith-based book for military spouses, Mission Ready Marriage. She enjoys reading, early morning outdoor walks, trying out new recipes, and hosting friends and family in her home. Claire is married to Ryan, an Army Chaplain. They and their three children are stationed at Fort Gordon in Augusta, GA.

Network Your Way to a New Job!

Did you catch our Facebook party a few weeks ago? Our #MoreThanASpouse campaign was all about education, careers, networking, and empowerment for military spouses!


Over 1,200 military spouses hopped on to network in our Facebook party, and more than 4,000 were there live to watch the madness go down! It was clear that networking, even digitally, was one of the most important takeaways from the party. And rightfully so; networking can play a huge part in finding your next job, volunteer opportunity, or meeting new people.

So how do you leverage your network in the most powerful way?

Start with LinkedIn.
Create a profile, add your experience, whether it’s a job, volunteer position, or internship–LinkedIn is a great place to show everything you’ve done and gives potential employers a great snapshot of what you’re capable of!

Haven’t had a job in a while? No worries! Volunteer experience can be just as impressive when it comes to finding a job.

During our More Than A Spouse Facebook party, one military spouse shared, “VOLUNTEER! If there is one piece of advice I could give to any ‪#‎milspouse looking to advance your career, show your diversity in your resume through your volunteer work!”

linkedin volunteer sectin

Once you have updated any volunteer experience on your LinkedIn profile, take some time to also do the following:

  • Add any training/certifications. Even if they aren’t directly related to the job you are applying for.
  • Add any skills you have. They don’t have to be strictly work related, either! Do you have 4 kids whose schedules you manage? That, my friend, is time management in its finest form. Think outside of the box when it comes to your skills!
  • Make connections. Sometimes your friends and family may have a connection that neither of you thought could be helpful. Try to connect with as many people as possible.
  • Ask for recommendations. You can request recommendations from old work contacts, volunteer coordinators, or friends. Adding recommendations to your profile can increase credibility.
  • Join Groups! LinkedIn has groups for almost every interest, so you are bound to find a group that will be full of great connections. Once you are in the groups, add to the conversation, find new people to connect with, and ask questions.

Now it’s time for coffee.
One of the last things I want to mention is the benefit of coffee-dates, even virtual ones! Don’t be afraid to ask the new connection you made on LinkedIn for a chat session! Try Google hangouts, Facebook Messenger, or on the phone. Sometimes talking to someone for 15 minutes can create a great new connection, and also spark an idea for a job you had never even thought of!

LinkedIn may be one of my favorite tools, but there are a ton of other places for you to make connections, or find a job. We’ve compiled a list of some other great resources in our More Than A Spouse LinkedIn group, just request to join, check out the resources, and use some of these awesome tips to network your way to success!

What are your tips for networking online? Share them with us below! Happy Networking!

Jordan-BarrishPosted by Jordan Barrish, Public Relations Manager


I am More Than a Spouse…So are YOU!

I have a confession to make. The #MoreThanASpouse campaign is about me. Well, not just me. It’s about me, and my co-worker, and my best friend, and my next-door neighbor. It’s about all of us.


I’ve been a military spouse for 10 years. I am so proud of my husband and am honored to support him in his career. I am happy to follow him from one duty station to the next, because there isn’t any place I would rather be than with him. I am happy to support him as he studies for promotions, and volunteers his time, and leaves for TDYs and deployments. I am so proud of him.

His career is not mine though. It’s wonderful, and it’s something to be proud of, but it’s not me.

When we move to a new area, the most common first question I’m asked is, “What does your husband do?”

It’s rarely, “What do you do?”

Or even, “Tell me about yourself.”

It’s never really bothered me; it’s the nature of the beast. Military life means you move when they tell you, where they tell you. It means the mission comes first, and sometimes, that means there’s no one for you to rely on but yourself. It means leaving jobs, and being on call 100% of the time. It means doing what you must do rather than what you want to do.

The service member serves. The service member sacrifices. The service member follows orders. Sometimes it feels like the family only follows. But families serve, too; by keeping things quiet and stable at home, allowing the service member to do their job and focus on their mission. So many of us set aside our hopes and dreams to focus on the work at hand.

As we get older, and as the kids grow, I am realizing there is much more to me than just my role as a spouse.

I am so much more than a spouse.

There are things I want to do with my life: I want to be a leader. I want to make a difference. I want to change the world for the better. Yes, I want to support my spouse, but I want to do more. I can be more. These desires are not mutually exclusive.

pinterest-more-than-a-spouseFor the More Than a Spouse project, we sought out military spouses and asked them to tell their story. In recent years, there has been a lot of ugliness directed at military spouses. We’ve been called names, we’ve been reduced to stereotypes. Employers reject us. Communities fail to see our worth. We’ve been told, “You do nothing. You are not special. You do not serve.” (Yes, that was an actual comment we received this week on our Facebook page)

This project was not intended to claim we serve in the same way our spouses do. We know that’s not true. Our lives are deeply impacted by our spouse’s military service, but that isn’t what this video is about.

This project is intended to encourage military spouses to take a closer look at themselves. Forget what the world says. Forget what the “haters” say. What matters most is what you think, and what you want to make of yourself. What matters most is who you are, and who you want to be.

Recently, I sat down with some of the military spouses I admire most. These spouses are leaders in their communities, and wonderful mothers and fathers. They are supportive. They are doing amazing things at work, at home, and in their communities. I asked them two simple questions:

“What is special about you? What are you proud of?”

I handed them a marker and a piece of paper. They laughed nervously, shifted their weight in their seats, and sighed. They stared back at me, shaking their heads, and it broke my heart.

“I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what makes me special”

But we do. We see you.

We see you at home. We see you comforting children who just want to talk to Daddy while he’s in the field. We see you when you have the flu, but you’re up anyways, caring for your sick children because there’s no one to call for backup. We see you delivering babies alone while your husband is serving 3000 miles away. We see you attending parent-teacher conferences alone while your wife is downrange.

We see you in the community, volunteering with the booster club, or the FRG, or in the thrift store on base. We see you attending college, writing papers long into the night. We see you bringing meals to other spouses, being there when someone needs support, and helping wash the uniform just one more time as your spouse packs their go-bag.

We see the pride on your face when your spouse is promoted, and the hurt in your eyes when they hug you goodbye. We see your strength and your heartache.
We see your potential. We know you have hopes and dreams. We know it will be hard.

But we know you can do it. You’ve shown us that again and again. You can do anything you set your mind to. You are capable. You are valuable. You are important.

What makes you special? What do you want to be?

Share your “I am” pictures with us on social media using the hashtag #MoreThanASpouse, or email us at social@militaryfamily.org.

HeatherPosted by Heather Aliano, Social Media Manager

#MoreThanASpouse: How 85% of People Find Their Next Job

Like many military spouses, I got a late start on my career. Early on, my husband and I agreed that it made the most sense for me to stay home with our son until he was in school. Unfortunately, by the time our son was ready to head to school, we were stationed overseas for two back-to-back assignments, further delaying the start of any meaningful career.


When we moved back to Washington, D.C. from overseas, I was so excited about the prospect of finally putting my degrees to work. Our son was going to be in school full time, my husband was going to a desk job, our extended family lived close by in case we needed help, and we were finally moving back home! I remember being so optimistic; I had a Master’s degree and spoke three languages, surely I would have my choice of interesting jobs.

I was wrong.

The DC area ranks the highest in the nation for people with advanced degrees. It is also a very multi-cultural area, and most people are multi-lingual. My ‘competitive edge’ wasn’t going to be enough to make me stand out. I kept a binder full of all the jobs I applied for and the rejection letters I received. That binder was getting impressively thick when I realized I was going nowhere fast.

Thankfully, I had a wonderful mentor who encouraged me to start networking and meeting more people. My job search had been full of a few ‘ups’ and some more debilitating ‘downs,’ up to that point, and I was at the end of my wits. I was willing to try just about anything within reason to get my foot in the door, so why not start networking? I pushed outside of my comfort zone and got serious about expanding my networks. I began to see everyone as a potential connection.

While I was auditing a class on Congress and the Military, one of the speakers really resonated with me. When the session ended, I walked up to introduce myself, thanked her for everything she and her organization did on behalf of military families, and finished with an offer to volunteer if they ever needed the extra help. When I got home, I followed up with an email note sharing a little more about my background, reiterating my offer of assistance, and attached my resume.

I was mildly surprised when an email came back encouraging me to apply for a job that she thought would be a great fit for within their organization. Fast forward a few months, I did end up going to work for that organization, but more importantly, I learned a very important lesson: over 85% of people will find their next job through the ‘hidden job market’ (jobs that are not actually posted to the general public).

In order to access these jobs, you need to expand your networks. There are no shortcuts…you need to get out there and meet people! Platforms like LinkedIn have helped equalize the playing field for military spouses, to a certain extent, allowing us to start networking before we even move to the next installation. But nothing replaces that face to face interaction. You’re going to have to get out there and meet people. Be on the lookout for conferences to hone your skills, learn about the latest resources, and meet people within your industry. Make sure you have a networking card, attend events, and be diligent about your follow up. This is what’s going to make the difference in your job search.

Entrepreneurs, the advice is just as relevant for you: when you move, you’re going to need to find your niche, your community and your new potential clients/customers.

Getting started can be a bit daunting. As an introvert, I understand this well! If you’d like some more information about Networking 101, check out our easy tutorial. If you’re ready to put your networking skills to work and eager to learn more about building portable careers, we hope you’ll join us at our 5th Annual Military Spouse Career Summit to meet like minded military spouses.

Remember: the online community is great, but nothing beats that face to face interaction. Get out there and start networking!

Believe in Yourself

Ready to network? Get your pajamas, a glass of hot tea, and your laptop ready! Join NMFA and other military spouses – including myself – for a Facebook party tomorrow from 9pm-10pm EST as we chat, network, and share our education and career goals! If you’re ready to be #MoreThanASpouse: this is a virtual networking event you don’t want to miss!

sue-hoppin-headshotPosted by Sue Hoppin, military spouse, Founder and President of the National Military Spouse Network–a professional development and networking membership organization supporting the professional career and entrepreneurial goals of military spouses

Military Spouses: Improving Your Resume by Going Back to School

chalkboardAs a military spouse, there are some questions that I grow tired of answering all the time:

What does your spouse do?

Where are you guys hoping to move to after here?

When are you going to have kids?

For me, it’s “where do you see yourself in the next five years?” While job interview questions are sometimes difficult, as a military spouse, explaining where you’ll be in five years can be an especially challenging to answer.

Oftentimes, the moving and array of jobs on our resumes may appear as if we simply cannot hold down a job – especially when you consider the variety of different positions and descriptions that may be listed. This may indicate to a potential employer that you lack vision, or direction, in your career goals.

Usually, I want to respond, “Five years?! I don’t know where I will be living in two years, so who knows where I will be in five!”

There are certain states with notoriously difficult job markets, so if we were to live in one of those states, I probably wouldn’t be working. However, if we are fortunate enough to live where there are ample employment opportunities, I will probably feel grateful to have found a job before our next scheduled move, and my hope is to find a job that will align with my past experience and education.

Military spouses oftentimes aren’t able to experience stability, simply because of the nature of this lifestyle. It makes it difficult to use any networks or connections we make to our advantage. We are often times underemployed, if we are employed at all.

What can we really do about this?

My own journey, like so many military spouses, led me to go back to school. While I know continuing my education doesn’t guarantee me a job, I do know it will make me more marketable to future employers.

But just because you figure out the next step, doesn’t mean everything else will come as easily. I spent months bouncing ideas around with a friend about which area of study would be right for me. I also spent a lot of time weighing the cost of going back to school versus the benefits I’d have once I was finished.

I finally decided on a blended program that provided half the classes online and half the classes on a campus. I decided to pursue a field of study with a curriculum broad enough to be used in a few different areas in the workforce, but would also reflect my level of dedication and ability to earn an advanced degree.

Who knows if it will pay off for me? That remains to be seen. But I do know that education is the one part of my resume that I can control. Returning to school to earn a Master’s degree while working, and being a mother of two boys, is a challenging task, but I believe it will ultimately prove to be a worthwhile endeavor.

If you decide school might be the right option for you, our Association has all the resources for you to answer all your questions – from “Where do I start?” to “Which degree should I get next?!”

Have you decided to go back to school to help improve your resume? Share your story with us!

Amanda headshotPosted by Amanda Anderson, Content Manager, MyMilitaryLife

Tired of Searching for Employment Resources? MyMilitaryLife App Puts the Answers You Need at Your Fingertips!

MyMilitaryLife graphicIt is no secret we, as military spouses, constantly struggle to find employment. We reinvent ourselves wherever our military life takes us. One new resource you should know about is MyMilitaryLife app. If you haven’t downloaded it yet, get on your phone right now and join our mobile community!

Why is this app different and how can it help you find a job? To begin with, it is created by military spouses and subject-matter experts. We get information directly from the people who use it. You can be certain the information provided is legit and the resources recommended are trustworthy. Second, you don’t have to endlessly browse through stuff that doesn’t matter to you. Personalize your experience by answering basic questions about yourself and the app filters information — you only see what you need. Finally, the app gives you a platform to share what you’ve learned with fellow spouses. You can leave comments and read what other spouses recommend.

The Spouse Employment Life Path helps shed some light on questions like:

  • What employment support can I find on/off my installation?—Know where to start when looking for employment. Find the programs, workshops and career fairs especially designed for you.
  • How can I transfer my professional license if we move?—Find updated licensure information on the state you are relocating to.
  • Is working from home right for me?—Being a remote employee or having your own e-business can be a rewarding career choice. Start by reading these tips first.
  • Am I eligible for unemployment compensation if we PCS?—Unemployment compensation is a benefit that you earned. Learn how to apply for it.

Here’s how the app can work for you. Think of moving. You don’t always know where to start when searching for new employment opportunities. You might not know anybody in the area and you once again you have to explain why your resume looks the way it does. The Spouse Employment Life Path in the MyMilitaryLife App offers a wide range of networking tips. Additionally, it points you to local spouse groups, networks and organizations that can connect you with military-friendly employers.

Having an app that filters everything for you to get the specific information you need is priceless.

Download our MyMilitaryLife app today and let us know what you think!

Marlis Perez RiveraPosted by Marlis Perez Rivera, Content Specialist, MyMilitaryLife App

Starting a Career on the Move: Jennifer’s FINRA Fellowship Journey

financial-documents-and-calculatorLife in the military can be both challenging and exciting. When my children started school, I began wondering what I would do next. A friend of mine recommended applying for the FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship to become an Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC). For me, the timing was perfect, since we would be at our current duty station for another year.

After being selected to become an Accredited Financial Counselor Fellow, our family received the news that we would be moving to a different state around the time classes would start. I began to think I wouldn’t be able to complete this program because of the chaos around me – like packing up and moving the week before my classes started!

Set up in a hotel room, I logged on for my very first webinar! I was very nervous…I didn’t even know what a webinar was! Logging on was easy, and the presenter was very knowledgeable. Prior to, I received the slideshow via email, so I was able to take notes. Even in the midst of a PCS move, and using hotel wi-fi, the flexible AFC program allowed me to learn right where I was!

As I unpacked at my new home, my husband arranged for the Internet to be set up the day of my second webinar. When it came time to start, I sat in the middle of a room full of boxes – nothing was going to stop me! The rest of the classes went smoothly with no major problems. Then it came time to take my exam.

WAIT. How do I do that?? Another thing I had no experience with…finding a test proctor. The education center on our base gave me information to contact the local community college to find a proctor, and after a call and a few emails, I was set up to take my first of two exams. While I was studying for the first exam, I was also attending webinars for the second class. This flexibility allows you to work at your own pace. I passed my exam and moved on to focus on the second class.

However, I also had 1000 hours to complete for my practicum. Thanks to helpful hints from past fellows, I started volunteering on base. It was slow at first, but by the time I finished the second class, I had started shadowing a counselor. I gained more confidence and started teaching classes. Instead of focusing on my second exam, I focused more on my family, as well as on those practicum hours. After the summer was over, I finally scheduled my second exam. I passed this exam within 10 months of the first webinar.

This fellowship is wonderful for military spouses because it is so flexible. I didn’t have to worry about attending classes in a set location, and I was able to schedule exams at my pace, and within my schedule. The ideas for practicum hours were invaluable, and this fellowship is tremendously encouraging. I am so thankful I was selected to be a part of this fellowship, and I can’t wait to continue helping fellow military families here, and at our next station! Yes, we are moving again, but with this program I know I can get my certification without a problem!

Thinking of a career change? Maybe the FINRA Military Spouse Fellowship is your next step! Find out more and apply by April 18, 2014!

Jennifer-WakePosted by Jennifer Wake, Military Spouse & 2012 FINRA Fellow, Fort Leavenworth, KS