NextGen MilSpouse is going beyond traditional career tips and tricks for military spouses! We are sharing the real stories of working military spouses (just like you!) and their professional success stories on Wednesdays.
Name: Brooke Barnes
Years as a military spouse:
Tell us your job title/profession:
I work as a Marketing and Communications consultant. I also just recently launched a co-working space for military spouses in our community.
Is this full-time, part-time, hourly, contract or freelance work?
How long have you been working in this career field?
7 years total. I spent about 6 years at an in-house full-time director of a department and recently left that job to pursue a career in freelancing and consulting.
Do you work in an office, telecommute from home (or Starbucks), or a little bit of both?
I spent the last 2 years bouncing from my home office, to the library, to every coffee shop in town before realizing that I could create a space specifically for working military spouses.
Tell us one thing you love about your job.
Because I have two, I’ll give multiple answers!
Marketing/Communications – I love the flexibility of working from wherever I choose and being able to travel and move while still earning money. I also love the thrill of balancing multiple clients and projects at one time. It’s like a puzzle and it forces me to be super organized.
edge co-working – I LOVE my days at our co-working space. Every day we meet new spouses who come in to see the space and talk to us about the unique challenges that come with maintaining a career as a military spouse.
The best part is when I tell them our story and why we started edge and their faces light up.
Connecting with fellow spouses who feel the same way we do is amazing. I love that we’re building a thriving community and helping each other grow in our own career journeys.
How did you get this position? Was it a resume, referral, job fair? Spill your magic.
I landed my current freelance/consulting position from a contact I had previously worked with at my full-time job. I owe it all to my work on LinkedIn, though! I kept my profile fresh and interesting so that when I let her know that I was considering leaving, she knew immediately that I would be a good fit for the position.
I would say my magic was a combination of being prepared, personal branding efforts and putting myself out there.
Are you looking to connect with career-minded military spouses? Join one of In Gear Career’s 20+ local chapters around the world. In Gear Career is a part of Hiring Our Heroes and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
What is your No. 1 tip for a military spouse on the hunt for a job?
There are probably a million different answers for this question based on what type of job the spouse is looking to land. Back to LinkedIn though, you really can’t beat it. Be active daily: posting useful information, interacting with brands and companies you aspire to work with, things like that.
And also, be open to trying something new – ESPECIALLY working remotely. It’s a new-ish concept. There are plenty of job platforms that specifically share remote or freelance positions (MadSkills, UpWork, Apres, etc), but don’t be afraid to ask a company if they’re open to hiring a remote team member. Just make sure you do some research and can answer questions they may have.
How do you feel about failure?
It’s necessary to grow.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced while trying to maintain a career while living the military lifestyle?
My biggest challenge has been conquering the feeling that I’m stalling out or plateauing in my career.
What is the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received? Tell us the worst too, while you’re at it.
It’s sooooo cheesey, but “Lean In.” Don’t stop moving forward because you’re worried about life getting in the way. Go for it and when things come up (babies, PCS season) you’ll find a way to make it all work while still moving forward.
The worst advice: “Don’t be honest in an exit interview.” Of course, I would never tell someone to go into an exit interview crying or playing the blame game. I do think it is important to be honest and upfront about why you are leaving. How the company chooses to act on your information is their problem. It feels good to clear the air or get things off your chest. Just be sure to do so in a constructive way.
Who is in your support squad (i.e. spouse, neighbor, bff) and what role do they play in supporting your career?
My spouse is super supportive of everything I do – even quitting my cushy salary job to chase this dream of freelancing and co-working.
My Goldendoodle, Francis, who loves me unconditionally.
My co-working business partner, Jessica, who pushes me to be a better version of myself every day and believes in our mission of bringing co-working to rural New Mexico because we spouses out here need it!
Do you and your spouse or partner split household tasks? How do you do it?
We split things up. There’s not really a rhyme or reason to it, just the first person to see that something needs to be done tackles it.
Share your best life-hack for saving time or sanity during the work week:
Asana! I use this to stay on task with to-do lists while keeping the big picture front and center.
Tell us one piece of tech you couldn’t live without that isn’t your phone:
My Macbook Pro.
Must-have song on your productivity playlist?
Saint Motel – Cold Cold Man
If you had an extra hour in your day, what would you do with it?
Unplug and read!
If you were a superhero, what would be your super power?
I would have to say teleporting so that I could easily “do it all” and still be a military spouse.