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: Jaime Bishopp
Years as a military spouse: 7
Tell us your profession:
Secondary ELA teacher, full-time doctoral student
Is this full-time, part-time, hourly, contract or freelance work?
How long have you been working in this career field?
Six years as an official teacher. It should be eight years but I was forced to take a two-year break when we went overseas and DoDEA didn’t have any positions open. I worked as a substitute and paraprofessional during those two years.
Do you work in an office, telecommute from home (or Starbucks), or a little bit of both?
Tell us one thing you love about your job.
Schools are everywhere, so you are guaranteed to have the possibility of a job wherever you go.
How did you get this position? Was it a resume, referral, job fair? Spill your magic.
Being in education makes a job search easy. It’s easy to find the school district at your new location, look up employment opportunities and salary scales. As soon as we had orders I began my research, updating my resume and portfolio, getting letters of recommendations from the current administration.
The minute we receive official orders, I begin applying for jobs.
What is your No. 1 tip for a military spouse on the hunt for a job?
Never sit stagnant; always keep up momentum in your career. This means that if the ideal position for you isn’t available, find the next best thing. This may mean being underemployed or going back to school, but these things will help you to network in your location, gain more experience/certifications, and will eliminate large gaps in your employment history, all things which will help you to gain that ideal position when it does become available and will make you a more valuable candidate for jobs.
How do you feel about failure?
Failure is inevitable, either because as humans, we make mistakes, or because sometimes the deck gets stacked against you in this unpredictable military spouse life. The key is to learn what you can from the failure, let go of what was out of your control, and keep moving forward.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced while trying to maintain a career while living the military lifestyle?
The need to maintain certification in old states and re-certify in each new location is a very big challenge. Having to work through e-mail to contact state departments of education and coordinating all the paperwork needed to prove you meet the requirements is a lot of work and oftentimes very frustrating.
In addition, having to order official transcripts from colleges, paying the fees associated with becoming certified in a new state, to paying to have to re-take tests, or take additional coursework, it’s time consuming and expensive to re-certify in a new state.
What is the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received? Tell us the worst too, while you’re at it.
I was once told to keep moving forward in my education.
When we went overseas and there weren’t any teaching positions for me, I went back to school. I debated between going back to get a second bachelor’s degree, this time in elementary education to open a wider range of doors for me, or continuing to move forward and get a master’s degree. I decided to go with that advice and get my master’s.
I’m still debating whether is was good advice or not. It definitely helps me to get hired when there is a secondary ELA position open and hiring. However, it does me no good if there are no secondary ELA positions, as I’m not qualified to teach anything else.
Who is in your support squad?
Unfortunately, I really don’t have much of a support system.
Teaching is unique in that it can really consume your life, and this is especially true in the first year or two that you teach. Being a military spouse, I’m either new or the bottom of the totem pole so I get shifted, and have never had the opportunity to settle into a grade level, which means I’ve spent my entire career as a first-year teacher.
Because of this, I have very little free time, and the little free time I do get, I need to recharge on my own. Since I don’t have the time or the energy to reciprocate, I stick to myself and take care of things on my own.
Do you and your spouse or partner split household tasks? How do you do it?
When my spouse is home, he does take care of a lot of household tasks. He is gone a lot, however, with TDYs or deployments, and then it of course falls all on me.
This does cause some contention as I often feel after being the 100% sole caretaker for months on end, that he should have to pull more than 50%.
Because of this, I have someone who comes in every other week to clean. It’s a huge sanity and marriage-saver to not have to deal with the tedious, gross, hugely time consuming tasks of cleaning the bathroom, mopping, dusting, etc. either on my own when he’s gone and the fighting over who will take care of these tasks when he’s home.
Share your best life-hack for saving time or sanity during the work week.
I doing weekly meal prep on Sundays. Having all the meals made for the week not only saves us from having to spend the time cooking during the week, but also saves a TON of time in the kitchen clean-up (cleaning the kitchen just once a week as opposed to every single day). It also saves us money and is better for our health, as we are far less likely to eat out during the week.
What’s your must-have song on your productivity playlist?
Besides when I work out, I don’t often listen to music. Instead, on my commute to work or school I listen to audio books or podcasts. “Freakonomics” is my favorite podcast.
If you had an extra hour in your day, what would you do?
I’d split it between getting more sleep and getting more exercise.
If you were a superhero, what would be your super power?
I would like for my super power to be to control time.
I wish I could hit pause at night so I could get more sleep, or during my prep so I could get more work done and not have to come in on the weekends, or make the weekends go slower to enjoy time with my family.