Mil spouse, keep your career

by Jessica Evans
Stripes Europe

Maybe you haven’t thought about what you’re going to do after the movers have come and gone and you’re on your way to your next installation. PCS season has enough of its own challenges, no matter if you’re staying CONUS or going abroad. There’s always a lot to do, so maybe you haven’t given much thought to how you’re going to spend your days once you and your family are settled.

Many mil spouses are so focused on putting the needs of their family in front of their own, that they face challenges when they’re ready to re-enter the workforce.

It’s especially challenging when the military community seems to consistently drive home an antiquated idea of the ‘place’ of military spouses. The old school camp thinks that spouses should stay at home and keep the home fires burning to show support. These are the same folks who believe that mil spouses should be happy and grateful for unit volunteer duties or part-time/entry-level minimum wage jobs.

Then there’s the other school of thought that supports and encourages mil spouses to carve out and maintain their own career paths even while their spouse is in service. It’s okay to want your own career trajectory to remain constant even if you’re married to a Soldier, Airman, Sailor, or Marine. It doesn’t make you any less worthy as a mil spouse than the neighbor next to you who’s happy with volunteer gigs.

If you’re ready to lay the groundwork for a career, then it’s time to get clear on what you want and how you want to go about doing it. Your PCS is an excellent time to make this happen – after all, the rest of your world is going to be in a bit of an upheaval; why not take the plunge and go all the way?

Find a Professional Organization

There are tons of professional organizations that military spouses can belong to. Find one that works for your industry and participate. If opportunities present themselves to be on a management board, run an event or be a speaker for something, jump in and sign up.

Stay Relevant

What can you do in your career path that will keep you up-to-date with the latest trends in your field? It can be tough if you’re unable to find that dream job. Subscribe to local blogs. Volunteer for programs in your line of work. Find an internship or continuing education classes. If you’re feeling ambitious and have the time, consider a master’s degree or a certification in a specific area that can make you more competitive. If your field has major publications, submit articles and try to write for them.

Update your Resume

You never know when opportunity will come knocking. Make sure your LinkedIn reflects your most recent accomplishments, too.

Freelance

If you can’t find an organization or business to hire you, don’t stress. Depending on your skills and ambitions, freelancing might be the perfect interim or actual career for you. Freelancing is excellent for military spouses as you can pick it up and take it with you– it doesn’t matter where you go.

Don’t Give Up

Easier said than done. But honestly, if you want to make your career, you can’t give up. Surround yourself with people who understand and can support you in your vision and trajectory. Keep yourself motivated and remind yourself of all of your successes along the way– especially when it feels like you don’t have many. That will keep you fueled on the tough days.

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