Like other military families, we moved every three years or so. Once we would get to a new location, it would undoubtedly take about a year and a half before I found a new job. My lack of employment affected my psyche. We are now a retired military family, and will never move again – that I am very adamant about...
But if you are still moving and trying to figure out how to climb up the professional ladder, here are a few suggestions that may help:
- Join an association aligned with your career or career aspirations. Being a part of an association will keep you current on happenings within the field, and connect you with others who may have leads on jobs. You can look up professional associations for your desired field here.
- Don’t burn your bridges. In many career fields, and even more so within the small military community, it seems that everyone knows each other. All of these people have the ability to impact your future professional opportunities, why would you place barriers in your own way? Make sure that your water-cooler talk isn’t damaging to you or others.
- Be your own cheerleader. Keep a running list of the items, projects and tasks that you have excelled at. You have to be our own advocate. You can’t expect others to speak on your behalf. They might, but they might not. The goal is to have others see you as an asset; sometimes your voice has to lead people to discovering your talent.
- Be a team player. Help others where they need it. If there are special committees formed, offer your talents to help within the committee. Don’t be the person that only helps after your work is complete, step-in and up when you see a need. If you are consistently letting others sink while you swim, you will not be seen as a team-player or someone who should be a leader.
- Build your skills. I used my degree to get me in the door then built up my skills with each job. Regional Volunteer Coordinator, Homeless Housing Case Manager, and Academic Advisor are just a few jobs I held. In these positions, I built up skills that led me to my next job. As a Volunteer Coordinator I was able to work well with people from all backgrounds, guess what the Homeless Housing Case Manager required? The ability to work well with others, especially under duress.
- Find a Mentor. Is there someone that you look up to professionally? Ask them if they would be willing to be your professional mentor. But be aware that they are going to be investing in you, with their time; so this is something that you have to take seriously. When first starting the mentor/mentee relationship outline what your expectations are and what the desired outcomes are.
Climbing the professional ladder as a military spouse may at times look more like you are on a slightly tilted ladder. Do not get discouraged, keep climbing those rungs! You have to realize the rungs are only aids…you have to do the hard work that elevates and propels you forward to the next step.