Do you ever wish you could tell the younger version of yourself some words of wisdom about your career?
I recently had a chat with a newer military spouse about her experiences assimilating into the military life. It reminded me of things I wish I had learned sooner.
Gotta give up some desire for control.Jill Pohl had that bright-eyed, world-conquering tone to her voice as we discussed our experiences as spouses. I found myself smiling during our conversation, as Jill reminded me so much of myself early in our military journey.
Like me, Jill explained that she has had to adjust the career path she originally envisioned for herself in order to keep her family together. I asked her what the most difficult part of military life was and she explained that it was the unpredictability of not knowing where the military will place them next.
For example, before she got married, she expected to live in Los Angeles, CA for the rest of her life. Now, she is in Washington D.C. and has had to adjust her career goals to chase her dreams 3,000 miles away. She has learned through this experience that she needs to give up her desire for control, because as a military spouse, she has very little control over where her home will be in the future.
Networking really is key. Just do it.While Jill could dwell on the negative experiences, she has instead found power through connecting with the military spouse network. When I asked her what impressed her most about her military spouse experience, she said:
“I've been impressed by how great other military spouses are at helping one another. There are so many spouse Facebook groups, organized by base, where you can post a question about a new base assignment prior to PCSing. Also, when we first moved to Dayton, Ohio, we were locked out of our new house on base and the housing office was closed. A fellow military spouse let us sleep at her place instead of having to find a hotel at 1 AM. It's those little things that make it all easier and help me feel a sense of camaraderie and support within the military.”
Senior Spouses are a mixed blessing.I asked Jill about her impression of the senior military spouses she’s known throughout the years. She pointed out that her experiences have been mixed. As with any group, you will relate to some people more easily than others.
Jill has met many senior military spouses who never worked; she found it difficult to relate to them. She had yet to find someone who could help her navigate the delicate balance of military and professional success.
She said she would love to have a military spouse mentor who could work with her to develop a solid plan with enough flexibility to account for the frequent military moves.
Learn to use your passions in a new way.Since becoming a military spouse, Jill has had to change her career aspirations to adjust to life in the military. She told me she always had a passion for writing, and had planned to use that passion to build a career in story development/writing for film and television.
While she was pursuing her education in Los Angeles, she had forged relationships within the film community. She had to leave these relationships behind when she left the city.
Once she moved to DC, Jill had firsthand experience with underemployment in the military spouse community. Instead of the career path she envisioned, she accepted jobs for which she was overqualified, making a lot less money than she felt she could have based on her experience and credentials.
Now that she has moved three times in under five years, Jill has concluded that she needs to use her original passion for writing in a different way. To that end, she has started writing in a freelance capacity, as well as blogging on her personal blog, www.visionsofjillhanna.com. On top of all of this, she is currently writing a book for young military spouses!
There is no secret that being a military spouse is no easy feat. The moves are frequent, the changes are constant and the challenges are many. But, together, military spouses are more powerful than anyone realizes and can affect great change by helping and mentoring one another.
Jen is an Air Force Academy grad, veteran, AF reservist, mommy, and military spouse with a passion for inspiring entrepreneurism amongst the military spouse ranks. She currently lives with her 2 children and AF pilot husband near McGuire AFB, NJ. After leaving active duty to raise kids, Jen found the flexibility she needed to keep a career by starting businesses. She currently works with a team of fabulous women (many military spouses) to help them find their flexible career aspirations through building their own businesses. You can follow her adventures at www.jengriswold.com
US Coast Guard photo