Hello, hello. Ready for today’s Military Monday post?
Today’s topic of choice: Finding Work/Maintaining a Career as a Military Spouse.
Before I followed my husband around the globe as a military wife, I had worked three jobs in the town that we’re from. I worked the hospital ER by day, administered home health care most mornings and weekends, and was on-call as an EMT with our local fire department by night. On top of volunteering and leading Bible studies on campus, I was a busy gal.
So when it came time for us to move to Virginia, I had to say goodbye to the working world for awhile and enter the Unknown: Life as a military spouse. I speak more on that world in other Military Monday posts, but today I thought I’d share some tips on finding work or volunteer opportunities at your new duty stations.
So are you ready? Here we go.
- Utilize on-base resources.
At every base, there is a person or program charged with the duty of resourcing and equipping spouses for employment. This includes everything from job boards to resume classes to hook-ups with military-friendly employers in the area. It’s their job to help you find a job.
To find these programs, check the base website, contact the FRO (Family Readiness Officer)/Fleet & Family Services, or ask your service member to look into it for you. The resources are out there.
- Take advantage of MyCAA.
MyCAA is a government tuition assistance program for active-duty and activated-reserve military spouses. It’s good for up to $4,000 towards tuition! It only applies towards Associates degrees and certifications, (so no graduate school programs or 4-year university degrees), but this is totally worth taking advantage of. It’s free education, people!
Many of my friends obtained certifications in Cosmetology, CNA, Photography, Phlebotomy, or Associate’s degrees in Business, Psychology, etc. Although many of them already had Bachelor’s degrees, why not obtain more free education? It was a fun, new skill that many of them enjoyed and ended up utilizing a lot during their time in the service.
My friend Dana started up her photography business during our time in Virginia, and now it has really taken off! (Check her out at danabement.com)
I so wish that I had gotten my personal training certificate when we were active duty. It would have really served as a resume booster!
- Plan ahead for continuity.
If you are currently working a job that is transferrable, (i.e. chain companies such as banks, stores, restaurants), get in contact with a manager of the business local to your next duty station. For example, if you work for Wells Fargo, find a Wells Fargo near your next place and try to send your information in ahead of time. This way the new manager already knows your name and availability and can keep you in mind as positions open up in the near future.
This is good for jobs that need specific state certifications as well. I currently substitute teach in the state of Illinois, but it took almost six weeks for my certification to get approved through the Illinois Board of Education. I could have saved some time had I submitted all my stuff before we made the move. (By the way, you can obtain a substitute teaching certification with a Bachelor’s degree in any subject as long as you pass a background check. It’s a great military spouse job with flexibility and good pay if you’re interested in educating!)
Eighth grade P.E. (Dodgeball Unit!)
- Look into temp jobs or temp agencies.
Staffing and temp agencies are designed to match qualified employees to seeking employers. If you provide them with your skills and experiences, they do the searching for you. They get a commission for every match they make, so they have the incentive to find you a good fit. They also sometimes have access to jobs that are exclusive to those types of staffing agencies.
- Think outside the box.
When I first started my job search, I was looking exclusively in my line of work, (medicine). Being temporary, this limited my chances for employment significantly. (I ended up landing a phlebotomy job at a nearby hospital, but was only able to work there three months by the time I got hired, most of which was training…). As a military spouse, you have the unique opportunity to pursue a career that you possibly wouldn’t outside the military. For example, try taking a hobby that you enjoy and expanding it into a possible career. Many spouses found success in quilting, blogging, nannying, photographing, hair-styling (for military balls and events!), tailoring, event planning, etc… The list goes on and on!
So there you have it! These tips should help get you started on thriving as a military spouse. Who knows what possible career opportunities await you!