How One Spouse Opted for a Fellowship to Improve Her Career Options

Spouse Opted for a Fellowship to Improve Her Career
A Military and Family Support Center financial advisor works from home in Hawaii providing instruction and financial counseling to military families. (DVIDS/Benjamin Aronson)

Updated: 6/1/2021

Navy spouse Danae Hoekstra has job experience, life experience and military spouse experience, but that didn't make her career path straight and easy.

Like many military spouses, she has found that even having a "transportable" job doesn't mean it's easy to find a new one when you move. Despite having 23 years of experience in financial counseling and financial planning, Hoekstra keeps looking for ways to make the challenge of maintaining her career -- while her husband moves them across the country -- easier.

Danae Hoekstra photo
2014 FINRA Fellow Danae Hoekstra. (Courtesy Photo)

In 2014, Hoekstra was one of the FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellows. Through the FINRA Fellowship program, participants are able to earn the Accredited Financial Counselor, or AFC, certification while providing financial services to the military community, making the program a win-win for military spouses.

"The AFC, the accreditation you get through [the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education], really opens doors for that portable career -- where I could take the financial background that I had, but then actually utilize that every place we go," she said. "Thank you, military leadership who appreciate having financial counseling for military families. That is a huge blessing, both the program and the forethought that they've with that."

And it's more than just a job, it's a career path to a fulfilling career, she said.

"Being able to continue to support military families and actually develop my trade has been fantastic," Hoekstra said.

FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship

In the last 15 years, the program has provided fellowships to more than 1,600 military spouses. Those fellows have spent over 500,000 hours helping military families with their financial goals.

finra scholarship
The 2021 FINRA Foundation Scholarship opens March 1, 2020. (Courtesy Photo)

The fellowship covers the costs associated with training and testing, ranging from $780 to $2,130 if you do it on your own, and gives participants support throughout the process.

Hoekstra said she felt very supported while she was working to complete the required number of hours -- a huge selling point for her, since there is no support if you do the certification on your own.

Current and past fellows also have access to a vast network, including Facebook groups, annual conferences and, when appropriate, groups that meet in person. And that network can be key when looking for a new position.

Positions from organizations throughout the industry are advertised within the fellowship's social media groups, helping military spouses know where to submit resumes and look for their next position. And it helps that every military installation requires an AFC or Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification to work in finance on base.

Who Can Apply?

If you're the current spouse of an active-duty, National Guard or Reserve service member or retiree enrolled in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, you are eligible for this fellowship. (Yes, Coast Guard, this means you!) Spouses of those serving in the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are also included.

The application period has been extended and is open through June 1, 2021. Applicants are requested, but not required, to provide a letter of recommendation.

For more information or to get the details on your application, start here.

--Rebecca Alwine can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @rebecca_alwine.

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