Tag Archives: military spouse employment

Teleworking: Is It Really Worth It for Military Spouses?

mom-working-from-homeLike 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.

shannonPosted by Shannon Sebastian, Content Development Manager

Can Military Connected Women Have It All?

As a working mom, it was an honor and a privilege to moderate a conversation between 4 amazing women at this year’s Leadership Lunch.

The topic: does a work-life balance exist for women in the military community? But really, the conversation applied to women—and even men with families.

Lieutenant General Flora Darpino, the first female Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Army is married to a retired Army colonel. They raised two daughters together. For LTG Darpino, it’s not about work-life balance. It’s about life.

“For me, work and life don’t have to be two separate things. I don’t look at it as two different buckets on a tight rope that I am trying to balance. I just have to figure out what is going to be in the bucket that I am going to carry.”

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Lakesha Cole, 2014 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year®, is an entrepreneur. She’s founder and CEO of “She Swank Too,” a boutique for women and girls.  She stays balanced by bringing her kids to work with her, going along with the theme that life and work aren’t necessarily separate.

“My daughter lets me know that I am spending too much time at the computer. My daughter went so far as hiding my computer charger. Set those boundaries and stick to them.”

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Reda Hicks, 2014 Armed Forces Insurance Army Spouse of the Year®, has been a “remote” spouse for the past 6 years. She’s a practicing attorney in Houston, Texas where she lives with her son while her husband is stationed at Ft. Riley, Kansas.

“Women are their own worst critics. Is something that I am going to do when he is 3-years-old going to mess him up for the rest of his life? A lot of us are Type A, and we need to sometimes let some of that control go. I don’t have a formula for how it’s all supposed to work, but you just have to take it day-to-day.”

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Claudia Meyers, wrote, directed and produced Fort Bliss, a movie about an Army medic who comes back from deployment and struggles to resume her role of “mom” to her young son.

“It was the ultimate working mom scenario. Just like civilian mothers, it’s finding that balance between career and family. It’s one of the elements that goes into decision making – she is trying to make the best decision she can in an imperfect situation. When can you really be present and what compromises do you have to make.”

So, does a work-life balance exist for women in the military community? I learned that the answer depends on what balance means to each individual.

Now excuse me while I go reevaluate what’s in my bucket.

Besa-PinchottiPosted by Besa Pinchotti, Communications Director

5 Tips for MilSpouses Moving a Career License or Certifcation

i-just-dont-getYou’ve just invested years of your life getting the education necessary to have a job you think will be fun, earn you some cash, and offer you some PCS portability. You pay a bunch of money to take a test, earn your license or certificate and get to work. Then you get orders to another state, and find out the rules there are different. Your license to work as a dental hygienist, real estate agent, nurse, cosmetologist, teacher, or lawyer (or any number of other career fields) is most likely only valid in the state where you received it. Different states may regulate career fields differently.

So how do you figure out where to start? Here are some tips to guide you:

1.  Go to the Military One Source: Spouse Education & Career Opportunity (SECO) spouse licensing and certification map. Click on the state you’re moving to. If it’s blue, that means they have passed some legislation helping military spouses—but that doesn’t necessarily mean you are in the clear. Keep in mind that EVERY career field is different. Some laws are tailored to only help certain career fields, but those laws designed to help can sometimes vary from state to state. By clicking on the name of the blue states, you’ll find links to the legislation, and information about who, and how it helps.

2.  Do some research and find the licensing or certification board for your career field in the state you are moving to. Read the rules about what is required in that state. Compare it to the rules for licensing and certification for your field in the state where you currently work. You may be able to apply for a license without further coursework. You also may be eligible for a waiver or a reduced licensing fee.

3.  Before you move, prepare and be patient. If you had to test into your career field, it is unlikely that you can go to another state and start working without going through an application process. That takes time and paperwork. Do your best to keep all of your licensing and certification paperwork in order between moves. Keep good records of your work experience, which may also help bridge the gap between state requirements.

4.  Tap into the spouse network. There are networking groups out there specifically for military spouses that can help you with support, advice, connections and information. Business and Professional Women’s Foundation, InGear Career, MilSpouse eMentor Program, are some great networks to get you started.

5.  Still confused? Call and ask to talk to a SECO career counselor at the Military One Source hotline number 1-800-342-9647. SECO has experts who can help you decipher this maze and support you. On that same note, make sure you let Military OneSource know how their resources have worked for you or not worked for you so that they can improve the services they offer.

Moving your home from state to state with each new set of PCS orders can be hard enough. Finding a new job in a new city or state makes it even more difficult. It’s no wonder so many spouses say, “I just don’t get it!” when it comes to moving their career licenses and certifications. With your brains – which we know you have – and a little persistence, you’ll be set up to work in no time!

Do you have any tips for spouses who are trying to move their licenses and certifications to a new state? Share them with us!

Brooke-GoldbergPosted by Brooke Goldberg, Government Relations Deputy Director

Last Chance to Apply for the FINRA Military Spouse Fellowship!

African-American-female-sitting-at-a-deskThere are blog posts a plenty emphasizing the important role that a portable career can have in the life of a military spouse; there are stacks of arguments as to why education is valuable, and there are broken bats scattered along the way from everyone trying to hammer these points home.

If you haven’t yet heard it…get out from under that rock! PCS season is sneaking up, and military spouses will schedule the movers, pull the kids out of school, say good-bye to friends, oh and, yes, quit their jobs…again. I know this first hand; moving boxes are currently consuming my living room, and my pre-move to-do list grows.

Industries with mobile careers are few and far between, but by tapping into the right job markets (teaching, healthcare and fitness to name a few), savvy military spouses are finding more success in landing jobs that are portable.

I want to shine some light on the financial industry – specifically financial counseling.

According to the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE), financial counseling and planning education “is the integrative, multidisciplinary field of social science that studies personal finance and helps families from all walks of life make effective financial decisions and improve financial capability.” Among other efforts, AFCPE supports researchers, educators and counselors with the goal of building, advancing, and ensuring the integrity of the Personal Finance profession.

For the past several years, the National Military Family Association, AFCPE, and the FINRA Investor Education Foundation have joined together to provide the FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship Program. This program is available to qualified applicants looking to pursue careers as accredited financial counselors (AFC). Organizations that hire financial counselors include: bankruptcy courts, banks, savings and loan associations, college financial aid offices, Uniformed Services family/community service agencies, employee benefits counseling firms, insurance companies, consumer finance companies and many more.

AFCPE offers a self-paced study that meets the following objectives:

  • Train a corps of military spouses to provide financial counseling and education within the military community
  • Help military spouses achieve career goals and aspirations and enhance job-related marketability
  • Develop personal financial management skills of military families.

The fellowship gives military spouses (like you!) the opportunity to become an AFC at no cost, and on their own schedule from where ever in the world the military sends them.

If you are already in the finance field, and looking to advance your career, or you want to be a part of an industry that has jobs across state lines, consider this fellowship!

Applications for the FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship program are being accpeted until April 18, 2014 – so apply now!

alliePosted by Allie Jones, Program Manager, Spouse Education + Professional Support

 

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