By Helen Driver
Congratulations! You just married a member of the armed services. Get ready for an exciting life as a military spouse. Making great friends and traveling around the world are just two of the many benefits of being married to a military service member.
Unfortunately, you might also learn that starting or maintaining a career as a military spouse can be difficult. With the constant moving, establishing yourself in the workplace can seem next to impossible. However, through patience and hard work, a satisfying career can be yours.
First, be wary of finding a long-term career through a direct sales home-based business. These come with a number of risks and challenges. For one, military families move quite often, and after each move, you will have to rebuild your client base. Second, if you move overseas while owning this home-based business, you cannot use the APO, FPO, or any other military post office for that business (please see www.state.gov/documents/organization/62809.pdf). Finally, it can be awkward to approach friends and colleagues to buy your wares.
Instead, search for a portable career option that allows you to move to another location without having to completely re-establish yourself. A useful way to locate these sorts of portable careers is to network directly with the other working spouses who are stationed at your location. Military spouses can be found teaching online (either at the college or high school level), working for online accounting firms, engaging in online customer service, editing textbooks, or tutoring students online. The list of portable careers is extensive and your working acquaintances on base can be a useful source of information – you just need to ask them.
Second, make a trip to an Army Community Service (ACS) office. Their personnel are eager to help you with your job search. Someone there can show you how to find a governmental position through www.usajobs.gov and help you understand how to navigate the USAJOBS online system. The staff at ACS can even show you how to create a resume and explain how key phrases can give you a leg up in the governmental application process. GS (General Schedule) positions are often portable.
If your job hunt takes a bit longer than you would like, consider returning to school and/or obtaining a volunteer position. Many portable careers can be quite competitive and having a strong educational background can make you more marketable. Although volunteer positions do not pay, they can help you build your resume, give you leadership experience, and help you find paying positions through networking with other volunteers.
Obtaining a career as a military spouse can be tricky and frustrating; however, with patience, creativity and help from others, it is possible. Seek assistance from all available resources and be creative. You’ll be able to start a rewarding career that is compatible with your life as a military spouse.
Helen Driver, a full-time English instructor at APUS, is a military spouse. She coauthored the text Effectiveness in Writing and has published articles in the field of American history and literature.