I am often a skeptic when it comes to corporations with military spouse programs. I'm just so sure that the only thing on offer will be a position as a cashier or call center operator.
Yet some of these corporations really do have a good thing going for miltiary spouses -- especially when they are willing to move the job when a spouse must PCS.
Beth Hicks is a military spouse and a vice president and branch manager at Bank of America in Tucker, Ga. Here are her answers to how she makes the military and her career really work.
How did you get your job?
I walked into a Bank of America branch in Charlotte to open a military savings account. The manager recruited me on the spot because of my leadership background.
She mentioned that it could be a great move for me as a military spouse because the bank is all over the country, so finding a new position would be easier when our family had to PCS.
Banking hours were more stable than my previous job [in nursing] too, and I wanted to have more time to spend with my daughters who were entering their teens at the time.
What do you like best about your work?
I love knowing that I'm helping make someone's financial life better -- buying their first home or planning for a secure retirement. Recently, a customer told me I had changed his life. That's the sort of experience that's really gratifying for me.
Were you able to transfer your career to another location? How did you do that?
I started at Bank of America in Charlotte 12 years ago, and since then I've moved to Texas, Southern California and now Georgia. Right now, we're actually planning a move back to North Carolina and I've found a position there that I'm excited about.
In 2012, the bank formalized the process for military dependents who PCS. That way, we all have a streamlined process for finding new positions in new areas.
I do that by being very transparent with my managers and bringing them into the process early. It's been really effective, and they always find me a challenging new role.
My number one rule when striving to achieve a little more is ...
Always try to be the best, and push my team to be the best too. I don't always need to be the one out front being recognized, as long as my branch or my team succeeds. As a military spouse, you learn that it's not always about you -- it's about your team succeeding together.
How does your servicemember support your career?
My husband has always been my number one supporter. He believes in me and my leadership ability. When he was in the Sergeant Major's Academy, he helped to bring me in as the family support lead to help other Army families. And he has always helped me find new job opportunities when I needed it.
What was the hardest lesson you needed to learn about work?
I've learned over the years that, unfortunately, not everyone cares about the military, and every company doesn't have a culture like the one at Bank of America that encourages supporting veterans and military spouses. At times, coming into a new company, I felt like people thought I got the job just because I'm a military spouse -- not because I earned it. It's unfortunate, but not everyone shows that level of patriotism.
Best career advice anyone ever gave me was ...
One of my mentors told me to always network, get my name out there and go to events. Even if I don't have the time, I find the time because I never know when I'll need someone. It's been great for me, especially working with our internal Military Support and Assistance Group at the bank. Those contacts have been a huge help when I've need to find new positions when my family has moved, and often I've been able to advance through those moves.
My next challenge is ...
Looking for the perfect position within the bank so that I can stay in the same position whenever we PCS. The bank has "MyWork" positions that enable us work remotely, so as a military spouse I could potentially do the same job regardless of where our family moves.
My version of happily ever after is ...
For me, happily ever after is living in the same place as my husband while focusing on my career. I want my daughters to see how hard I work and be proud of the person I've become.