Three moves in five years. A resume filled with time gaps and a string of unrelated past positions. Limited job opportunities at some duty stations. Repeated fees for relicensing. The dreaded interview questions about how long you will be in the area.
Sound familiar? Professional military spouses know these challenges all too well. A staggering 90 percent of female spouses are underemployed because of these barriers to a meaningful career. And then there's the 2013 Military Spouse Employment Survey, which found that military spouses earn 38 percent less than their civilian counterparts and are 30 percent more likely to be unemployed entirely.
So what you can you do, besides balling up your fist and cursing at the though of yet another PCS? Two of the most important things are 1) have a plan and 2) network.
That's why we're here.
On October 17, 2014, the Military Spouse JD Network will host the second annual Making the Right Moves, a career development conference for military spouses with opportunities to work on both of those critical actions. The focus of the event in San Diego, organized with platinum sponsorship from Thomas Jefferson School of Law, is building and implementing a career plan to conquer the unique challenges of the military lifestyle. A networking luncheon will celebrate the service of military spouses while providing a forum for connecting with the local business, legal, and military communities.
The agenda includes input from experts on making an opening pitch, building a career plan, supporting the local community while building your resume and more. Professional recruiters and career planning advisors will share their insight on how military spouses should present their background and skills. Community and non-profit leaders will discuss strategic volunteering to strengthen your experience. Political experts will explore Homefront Rising, a joint initiative of MSJDN and In Gear Career encouraging military spouses to engage in the political process and run for office. Free resume review and professional headshots will also be available. While tailored for MSJDN’s membership, the insight is valuable for any career-minded spouses.
Proceeds from this year’s event will benefit Justice for Military Families, a program of the Military Spouse JD Foundation. Aimed at connecting military families with free (or “pro bono”) legal help in times of need, JMF fills a void that no other organization meets. The project isn’t just good for the military community -- it’s good for MSJDN’s members as well. Only 34 percent of MSJDN’s 900 plus members are currently working in a job requiring a law license. Justice for Military Families allows them to keep their legal skills sharp while serving their community.
As a military spouse working to build and maintain a career, it’s easy to be discouraged by the numbers and the daily challenges on top of separations, deployments, and the other obstacles of the military lifestyle. But it’s important to remember that progress is being made. Not too long ago spouses were expected to stay home. Now groups like MSJDN are successfully removing licensing barriers to employment for military spouses in multiple states. Events like Making the Right Moves offer the opportunity celebrate and connect with your fellow military spouses, while gaining the knowledge and connections you need to succeed. You don’t want to miss this full day of professional development tailored specifically for military spouses!
Elizabeth G. Jamison, Esq. is the Communications Director for the Military Spouse JD Network.