Many spouses arrive at a military installation fresh with a college degree in hand and a wedding ring. And little else.
These young spouses are full of potential. Full of big dreams for the future. And, all too often, full of the kind of despair that only comes from looking at the want ads again and again.
They find that they are either overqualified by their degree or underqualified by their lack of job experience.
It's not the best spot to be in.
That's why we were so excited to talk to Marine Corps wife Laura McVeigh, who found herself looking for work at Camp Lejeune, a notorious employment desert.
But Laura didn't give up. She found a job at the county library that is actually great for her, builds her skills and resume, and makes her happy -- the employment trifecta. Here, she tells us how.
What do you like best about your job?
I'm a library technical assistant and essentially my job is a Youth Librarian. I work on youth programming for kids in K-5th grade and work at the desk in the Children's Room.
I love kids and books and I believe that libraries are essential in creating informed communities, so I knew I'd like the job based on the job description.
How did you get your job?
I would check online daily to try to stay on top of local listings. I knew I wanted a job in some kind of human service field, but besides that, my search was very broad. I never predicted I'd work in a library, but it's been a fantastic fit for my interests and abilities.
If you went to college, what was your major? Are you using it?
I majored in sociology, and I'm not using my degree. But I do think it helped me get an edge over other candidates and I do use the sociological thinking I developed while in college to help me get my job done.
How has being married to a service member impacted your own career? How did you get around that?
I went to school in D.C., and I always anticipated staying around that area and working for a non-profit. Graduating, getting married and moving to North Carolina forced me to be creative in finding a job that was a good fit. I liked kids, but didn't see myself as a traditional classroom teacher.
What is the biggest career mistake you made?
Since I was so early in my career, I really didn't have a strong idea of what I was looking for in a job. I wish I hadn't waited so long for something perfect to pop up. I think I would have learned a lot by experimenting with different paths until I had a better understanding of what I was looking for.
What is the one strength you use on the job every day?
I think my natural curiosity serves me well in this job. I love digging up resources for people even beyond what we have in our card catalog. I think my curiosity in people helps me get a clearer picture of what kind of materials they are looking for.
Have you ever told a prospective employer that you are a military spouse during the interview process? Do you think it affected the way you were reviewed as a candidate for the position?
I don't believe I mentioned I was a military spouse but I'm quite sure they knew. My mailing address is on base, and I had mentioned moving into town recently. I don't think it affected the way they viewed me. My office has many military spouses, and I think they appreciate our adaptability and resilience.
What was the hardest lesson you needed to learn about work?
I came home crying on my first day of work. I was so overwhelmed about everything I would need to juggle and I didn't think I was up for the task.
My husband insisted I was more than capable, but it did take me a while to teach myself how to juggle tasks, ask for help and be confident in my work. He's just an encouraging person to come home to every evening.
What is your favorite quote?
Bloom where you are planted. I don't know what the military has in store for my family, but whatever it is, we're going to thrive.
What is your version of happily ever after?
My husband and I maintaining our great roots in New England but spending a lot of time traveling the world.
-- Thanks so much, Laura! We love your honesty and -- dare we say it? -- resilience. Buzzword or not, it's hard to find work in military towns. You've done it, and we appreciate you telling us how.
Do you have work experience you'd like to share? We'd love to hear it. Email us and let us know!