Military spouses are from all walks of life, every ethnic group, every age, and every race. We are caregivers, we are homemakers, and we are entrepreneurs. We are educated, we are ambitious, we are resilient, and we are industrious. Even though we are all these things, we still struggle to maintain a chosen career with the demands of this military life.
Some of us were “born into” this life and understand the demands of this lifestyle. But understanding the demands does not make managing these challenges any easier. Each generation of those “born into” this lifestyle faces new challenges that we continually rise to meet.
There are those of us that “married into” this lifestyle. We hear the phrase all the time that we “knew what we were getting ourselves into”. The answer is that, yes, we did know what we were getting ourselves into, but that knowledge does not make the challenges any easier to manage. We face them head-on because that is what we do. We lean on our support systems. We reach out to our tribe for advice and counsel. We plug into the installation resources and education when it is available. All of this helps but, when it comes down to it, we roll up our sleeves and make it happen if we really want it.
Many of us are “sworn into” this life as well. Those that wear the uniform still have to manage the challenges of military life but from a different perspective. Spouse Nation includes our veteran spouses once they decide to take off the uniform.
Whatever role you play, what can you do to maintain your employment readiness, whether you are job hunting or not?
The transient nature of the military lifestyle is about change. Many changes we have little choice in, but we have to be prepared for. It has become apparent that employment for military spouses is a dominant factor in the choices many military families are making to remain in uniform or make the transition to civilian life.
How can we, as those that have “married into” this lifestyle, prepare ourselves for employment as we move from location to location? Many of these strategies will also apply to those that have “sworn into” this lifestyle, especially as they prepare to transition out of active service.
One of the first things we can do is determine what our dream actually is. What do we want? Have you asked yourself what your dream is? This can be a combination of knowing your personal strengths and skills. This can include your education, both formal and informal. This can also include your passions and interests. Have you taken a mental stock of these questions? This is your first step.
The next step is figuring out how you are going to attain your goals. This is where your network comes into play. A network is basically your connections, and we all have connections as we have navigated military life. There are passive connections such as groups you may join on LinkedIn or Facebook that help with connecting spouses. There are also active connections which can be those people you regular engage with for information and support, as well as organized support systems that you can actively engage in. Can either of these help you get connected with a licensing class or certification course? Do you have connections with strategic volunteer opportunities that are in your field of interest? Have you researched the next location for opportunities, both inside the gate and off the installation? Reach out to your community of connections well in advance of your arrival. This community is a wealth of information. I guarantee someone has asked the same questions and walked the same path as you.
Finally, Own Your Goals! What are you going to do to get to your dreams once you have determined what they are and the tools you have to reach your goals? But you have to do the work. You have to roll up your sleeves and engage the resources that are available to you. The plethora of tools and resources available to assist military spouses with employment are as numerous as the types of exercise programs out there to choose from. Many of them are professional-level services that are offered at no cost to our military community. Enroll and engage as many of them as you can find and utilize the full range of offerings they have. Training classes, resume assistance, interview prep, utilizing social media platforms, and job search directories are all tools that you can use and that, many times, have no cost to you. Work the resources and you will reach your goals. Once you have figured things out, this is the perfect platform to share your journey. Telling your story may be an inspiration to those that may be struggling or have challenges meeting their personal goals.
We - those who have been “born into”, “married into”, or “sworn into” this life - have a story to tell and insight to offer from the perspectives and the experiences we have all gone through.
Spouse Nation, powered by Military Spouse Corporate Career Network (MSCCN), gives you that forum. Rewriting the narrative of the military spouse employment journey means telling those stories and sharing those perspectives so others on this journey may learn from our victories and challenges.
We call ourselves “Spouse Nation” because we all share a common language, a common history, and a common journey. There are more than 90,000 of us out there and we want to provide a platform for Spouse Nation to speak with our own voices and from all the different walks of life we have traveled. We have a lot of people saying they speak for us but we at Spouse Nation think that spouses can speak for themselves. So, SHARE, MENTOR, and help others GROW on this journey. Whether the goal is preparing for employment, finding a career, or just finding some direction, a “Nation” of military spouses may have the answers many are seeking to unlock the puzzle of the military spouse employment.
Written By: Milinda Rau
Outreach Specialist MSCCN