If you’re anything like me, you had some big plans and lofty goals as a teenager. Throughout college I was never getting married, never having kids, and was going to be in high government office. Then I met my husband. The first year we were married, I tried working. I had some great jobs, but the training schedule and the one car just got in the way. Eventually we decided that having less money, but spending time together was more important than having tons of money for extras. We also knew, that with the op tempo, the chances of a deployment the following year were great.
Fast forward almost 8 years. Three more moves, two kids, and I am now back at work, part-time. I went back to work kind of on accident. We had just moved and a friend learned about a position that was available due to a new contract. So I thought it’d be great. Part-time, good money, etc. I had the required skills from years of volunteer work and met the educational requirement.
So, what do you want to do next?
Are you a stay-at-home parent who put their career on-hold until your kids go to school? Are you working a job that isn’t ideal, but is available at this duty station? Are you in school preparing for your dream job? On the flip side, are you a stay-at-home parent who wants to continue to be home and volunteer? Or are you already working your dream job? If so, I am a bit envious of you, as you know what you want and you already have it.
Let me be clear, here, because I know there are some stay-at-home-moms who are ready to yell at me. Yes, I do consider parenting a job. It is probably the most rewarding job I’ve ever done. I enjoyed 95% of the time I spent home with my kids. And then I wanted to go back to work. Me. I do not pretend to speak for all parents. I’m expressing my thoughts and I’m sure there are milspouses and parents out there who have also had these thoughts. You do not have to want to be a professional. You do not have to want to pursue more education. You do not have to want to work. But, if you do, what steps can you start taking now to get you ready? Companies really want to hire YOU!
Military Spouses just like you
When I polled some military spouses, I received some interesting responses. 70% of those polled are stay at home parents. 90% of them had some college education. Take that, stereotypes that say milspouses are undereducated! When I asked these same spouses what they wanted to do as a career, I got a variety of answers. A lot of them had goals to be educators or counselors. Several wanted to start a small business or work in some capacity with military service members, families, and veterans.
Some unique ones were:
- Equine studies. Therapy for military members and families through horseback riding programs.
- Run the human resources department of an airline.
- Crime scene investigator
- Work in a non-profit that helps change and affect public policy relating to social stratification and women in government.
- Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
- Registered Nurse
Most of the professions have something in common, helping others. I think this says quite a bit about the military spouse mentality. We like to help others, we like to make the world a better place. And it makes sense that our career choices would reflect that. If you really want to be at the top, you can even be a CEO!
When to get started
After you decide if/what you want to do next, the next step is deciding what preparations need to be accomplished first. This, along with several other things, will give you a realistic timeline for starting your career. The two biggest hurdles are often education and experience. Education is something that takes money and time, but is usually easy to do moving place to place. Or even online. Experience is was trips most of us up. BUT, are you including your volunteer experiences? Are you thinking about transferrable skills? For example: Job A requires 3 years of management experience. Now, you haven’t held a supervisory position in your paying job, but you were the Volunteer Coordinator for the spouses’ club for a year. And you were the PTO President for a year. Oh, and remember the time you organized care packages for deployed troops and put together programs for their families? There you go, three years of managing events, people, and probably some money. When I asked those same military spouse what their timeline was, those who wanted a career were pretty eager to get started.
Personally, my timeline is 10+ years. Basically, after my husband retires from the army, I plan to let my career direct where we go and what we do next. I’m happy right now working to help transitioning service members, I’m grateful I have a work schedule that allows me to attend field trips and volunteer my time. I think in 10 years I’ll be ready to be in “career mode.’ And if not, then I’m ok with that too.