My husband will rotate from his current assignment in about six months, but new orders are nowhere on the horizon. So how’s a girl supposed to plan the next phase of her career when we don’t even know where we that next phase will take place?
As an attorney, it’s not as “simple” as finding a new position. If we are assigned to a state other than California or Washington (where I have already been admitted to practice), I will probably be required to take another bar exam in order to work. The tests are only offered twice a year and registration is required well in advance or I will be subject to a hefty late fee (on top of the substantial fees for the testing and the license). And I don’t even want to think about the possibilities of a last minute change in orders.
My military spouse friends tell me not to worry, it will all work out. And I know they are right -- we all make it work because, ultimately, it is an honor to support our spouses in their service to our country. I consider myself lucky to be a military spouse and part of our amazing community. But we can all agree that it’s abnormal to not be able to plan your life out more than six months in advance? Right??
A staggering 90 percent f female military spouses are underemployed because of licensing and employment barriers. For many of us, that statistic is more than just a number – we know all too well the challenges each relocation brings and the career hurdles caused by the military lifestyle. Frequent moves, a resume filled with gaps between unrelated past positions, limited job opportunities at the next duty station, burdensome licensing requirements – these all add up to what can seem like an insurmountable challenge to a meaningful career.
So what you can you do about this as a military spouse, besides trying to ignore the thought of your next PCS? Being prepared and building your connections is key to overcoming these obstacles - and an upcoming military spouse career conference in Seattle, Washington offers the opportunity to do that.
On October 23, 2015, the Military Spouse JD Network will host the third annual Making the Right Moves Conference, a full day of career development for military spouses designed to ease the burden of balancing a career with the demands of the military lifestyle. The event in Seattle, which will be hosted by the Bracewell & Giuliani offices in Columbia Center, will explore leveraging technology, alternative career paths, and building a mindset for success. 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 panels on creating a mindset for grit and growth, leveraging technology, strategic volunteering, and much more. While tailored for MSJDN’s membership of military spouses in the legal profession, the education provided by this conference is valuable for any career-minded military spouse. An afternoon workshop will explore building a small business. Experts will discuss Homefront Rising, a joint initiative of MSJDN and In Gear Career For Military Spouses encouraging military spouses to engage in the political process and run for office. Free resume review and professional head-shots will also be available.
Proceeds from this event will benefit the Military Spouse JD Network and its Foundation, including the Justice for Military Families (JMF) program. 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 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 employment statistics 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!
For more information and to register for Making the Right Moves 2015, go here. All community members are welcome to attend the networking luncheon.
Libby Jamison is the Communications Director for the Military Spouse JD Network. She is licensed to practice law in California and runs her own virtual practice. Libby currently resides in Rhode Island with her husband, a Navy helicopter pilot. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.