Tag Archives: employment

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.

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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.

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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

Catering to the Job-Seeking Military Spouse: MSCCN Gets It Done!

woman-in-suitWe all know that, as military spouses, we face all kinds of challenges with employment, even in the best economic times. I used all of the resources that I knew of: the Airmen & Family Readiness Center, Military One Source, USAjobs, etc.

I also used the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP), created by the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden’s Joining Forces Initiative, and maintained through the Department of Defense Spouse Education & Career Opportunities Program. MSEP has more than 200 corporate partners that have hired more than 50,000 spouses since 2011. MSEP has a portal where corporate partners post job openings aimed at military spouses and take a pledge to provide employment with promotion potential and can endure through a PCS move. One of those partners is the Military Spouse Corporate Career Network (MSCCN).

MSCCN is the only non-profit organization specifically for military spouse employment. They provide training, job placement, and services to military-affiliated spouses, retiree spouses and caregivers for wounded warriors.

I think what drew me in was the “corporate career” part of their title. Because of my advanced education, I found that (like many military spouses) the jobs most frequently posted would force me into underemployment. I needed to make enough money to cover the cost of childcare, and also advance my career goals. I couldn’t justify the financial and non-financial costs of working outside of the home, otherwise. I was very serious about my career, and that is the kind of spouse MSCCN wants to help. It is not just a job placement service – it is a career service.

When I called MSCCN, I was connected with a career counselor that had at least a Bachelor’s degree level of education. She also knew how to help me craft a resume for federal employment, as well as the private sector.

Prior to contacting MSCCN, I had used services that were not created for spouses with advanced levels of education, most topped out with help for those with a Bachelor’s. They didn’t know what to do with me beyond helping with a resume.

The counselor I had from MSCCN was not intimidated at all. She jumped right in, helping me with ideas for new areas of employment that I might qualify for. She also sent me job postings regularly, and checked in when she didn’t hear from me for a while. Though I didn’t ultimately locate a placement through them (because I found one on my own), I did receive coaching and encouragement that helped me secure my current job. I am eternally grateful for what she did for me…giving me personalized advice, coaching and confidence.

MSCCN doesn’t just provide great job placement training, advice, and assistance. It produces the Military Service Employment Journal, which is a great resource for hiring tips, information on companies that are military friendly, and success stories of job seekers.

They are also part of a new collaboration called Spouse Nation, which gives spouses an opportunity to connect with other spouses, or programs, through lifestyle paths like caregiver, entrepreneur, parent, or fun-seeker!

MSCCN has agreements with each branch of the Services to operate as an employment partner, and it maintains the National Guard Employment Program with its sister organization, Corporate America Supports You (CASY).

CASY performs the same services as MSCCN, but for veterans, transitioning military, and wounded warriors. CASY-MSCCN also gathers metrics for DoD, the White House, the Service branches, and others. They have a well-trained staff that understands the military experience, ready and waiting to help you get launched into your career!

Are you a job-seeking spouse with an advanced degree? What hindrances do you often face? Let us know in the comments!

Brooke-GoldbergPosted by Brooke Goldberg, Government Relations Deputy Director

I’m a Military Spouse: I Started My Own Business, You Can, Too!

ecommerceMy story is not unlike that of many other military spouses. I met my husband on a ski trip in Colorado (okay maybe that part isn’t typical), and then dated him long distance before getting married and moving to South Carolina to be with him.

My husband is an Air Force pilot, and by the time I arrived in South Carolina it was clear that we would be leaving in less than a year. I soon realized that moving would become a frequent part of our lives and that I would need to find a career that could adapt to our lifestyle. That’s when I learned about flexibility of running an eCommerce business. An eCommerce business, like Amazon.com, for example, makes a profit by buying or selling goods through electronic systems, or in my case, the internet.

Here are the five reasons that I ultimately decided to take the plunge and start my own business:

  1. My husband supported me. He not only supported me, but he agreed to partner with me in every facet of the process. I wouldn’t have been able to start, and effectively run, the business without his involvement. He is technically inclined and very detail oriented while I am, well, none of those things! I knew that in order to have a real chance at success, we would need to approach the business as a team.
  2. Low investment = low risk. It costs very little money up front to get most eCommerce businesses started. The biggest chunk of investment is time and effort. And trust me, it takes a lot of both – there are no short cuts! We have passed up a lot of time that could have been spent relaxing, or having fun doing more enjoyable adventures to get this business off the ground.
  3. Location independent. I loved the idea of being able to take the business with us at a moment’s notice, wherever we ended up. Perfect for military spouses and partners!
  4. A unique learning experience. I knew, whether the business failed or succeeded, I would learn so many new things. From website design, customer service nuances, and how to incorporate a business, I was excited about the challenge and the opportunity to learn and develop new skills.
  5. Great potential for growth. If we could be successful, the profits from this venture could support our family for years to come. It had the potential to pay significant dividends in the future, and that was definitely a huge motivating factor in deciding to start our business.

After diving in and doing a lot of research, we chose our “niche” – selling night vision equipment. We recently opened our store and have been pleased with the steady progress and growth we are seeing! eCommerce is not a “get rich quick” proposition and, like all business start-ups, is no sure bet. It requires an enormous amount of time and effort, patience, and drive to ‘stick to it,’ as any business does!

Have you ever started your own eCommerce business? What were your struggles and triumphs?

lindsey-almLindsay Alm is a military spouse entrepreneur and co-owner of ViperEyes.com. Her husband Adam is currently serving in the Air Force as a pilot.