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: Charity Phillips-Lander
Years as a military spouse:
Tell us your job title/profession:
I’m a postdoctoral researcher and Raman research scientist at the University of Oklahoma. My day consists of doing research on my own projects, helping with my Principal Investigator’s projects, helping students learn how to do research and communicating science through writing, speaking, etc. My goal is to either get a job at NASA or get a tenure track faculty position.
Is this full-time, part-time, hourly, contract or freelance work?
How long have you been working in this career field?
Do you work in an office, telecommute from home (or Starbucks), or a little bit of both?
All of the above
Tell us one thing you love about your job.
I love that no two days are the same. I have lots of options to do work that is industry-related, pure research, applied research, etc. It’s very fast-paced and there’s never a dull moment.
How did you get this position? Was it a resume, referral, job fair? Spill your magic.
My network. When I was completing my PhD, I called everyone I knew and let them know I was looking for work. My current boss hired me because she knew me and we work on similar things.
What is your No. 1 tip for a military spouse on the hunt for a job?
Networking is a lifesaver.
How do you feel about failure?
Failure happens and in my profession it happens daily. What matters isn’t the failure, it’s how you respond to it. Being able to shake off a failure or even several and focus on your goals is, in my mind, the key to success.
Failure is a great teacher. You learn more from failing than you do from success. Embracing the process of learning from mistakes is what defines those who achieve success.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced while trying to maintain a career while living the military lifestyle?
We geobached for 6 years so that I could complete my education.
What is the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received? Tell us the worst too, while you’re at it.
“Know as much about as many things as you can. You never know when that knowledge will be what helps you get ahead.”
Worst advice: You aren’t smart enough to do this, so just drop out. I ended up telling the guy he would have to force me out. He tried. He failed. Now everyone who he told all kinds of crap about me to thinks he’s an idiot. Works for me.
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Who is in your support squad (i.e. spouse, neighbor, bff) and what role do they play in supporting your career?
My spouse is my ultimate champion. He is always ready to patch me up and put me back in the game.
My personal trainer and my collection of gym buddies help me keep perspective. I find that they help me to remember that I need to strive for balance and they remind me I am succeeding even when I don’t yet see results.
My whitewater kayaking instructor and buddies remind me I need to go with the flow and dust off the inevitable failures as they come. I’m failing my way to greatness.
I have a number of work mentors who each have their own perspective on success and who help me work to improve myself.
My therapist helps me to cope with my anxiety disorder.
Do you and your spouse or partner split household tasks?
I do everything except pay the bills, because we’re often apart. When he’s here, he’s game for helping with anything. He spent the day after Christmas helping me clean lab dishes. That’s true love right there.
The reality is I prioritize work and my personal life over having a super tidy house. Sometimes chores don’t get done in a timely manner. That’s life and I’m not going to lose sleep over it. There’s too much fun to be had.
Share your best life-hack for saving time or sanity during the work week:
Go with the flow. Seriously, make a plan for the day and the week. Accept that it will likely fail. Do your best and don’t sweat the failures. It all gets done, just not necessarily the way we plan.
Tell us one piece of tech you couldn’t live without that isn’t your phone:
Favorite app for making the most of your day?
Instagram. I find a ton of inspiration from watching my friends’ journeys to achieve their goals and if I’m bummed, watching some kayaking makes me feel better.
Must-have song on your productivity playlist?
“Alpha Female” by Wild Beasts
If you had an extra hour in your day, what would you do with it?
I’d go kayaking. There’s nothing more magical than being on the water. It really gives you perspective about the importance of enjoying the journey, going with the flow and being resilient.
If you were a superhero, what would be your super power?
The power to convert energy to matter, so that I could make sure no kid ever goes hungry.
Are you a working military spouse? Do you want to share your career tips and tricks? Fill out the MilSpouses Who Work It Q&A today. Click here to complete our form.