Editor’s Note: Give us your lawyers, your accountants, your massage therapists. Give use your teachers, your engineers, your real estate agents.
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: Claire Wood
Years as a military spouse: 5
Tell us your job title/profession:
College English instructor, writer and recently published author
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?
I work at a university but also do a lot of my work at home (planning, grading, student communication). I have done all of my writing from home.
How did you get this position? Was it a resume, referral, job fair? Spill your magic.
I first called and emailed about an online job posting for the job; I secured an interview (teaching demonstration) over the phone and was hired on the spot.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced while trying to maintain a career while living the military lifestyle?
Our first duty station was El Paso, Texas, where there is a predominantly Hispanic population. Because I am not fluent in Spanish, I was unable to ever get “in the front door” for other teaching jobs.
I’d say the biggest challenge I face is feeling like prospective employers don’t really “know the real me,” and base their impressions on my resume. It makes me nervous when they see I’ve lived in 3 states in 5 years. I want to shout,
“I’m a great teacher and employee; I am committed, steady, excellent…despite my constant moves. Please take a chance on me!!!”
This challenge has forced me to get creative and continue expanding my skill-set.
Tell us one thing you love about your job:
I love that as a college teacher, especially in a humanities field, I am able to influence the next generation of young adults. I view my role as teacher as one of a facilitator, an encourager, a preceptor. I aim to inspire my students to put practical steps into place to realize their dreams. Through my written and oral feedback to their writing, I am able to help build confidence, direct my students to available resources, and advocate for their success.
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.
Share your best life-hack for saving time or sanity during the work week:
One of my recent realizations is that there is only one of me and that sometimes you need a team of people to help pull the load.
I now delegate like nobody’s business. Our kids (ages 8, 10, and 12) all have chores they do to earn their own “commissions.”
I clearly articulate (aka, no more mind-reading for him) what I need my husband to help with.
I occasionally “hire out” the house-keeping, some child care, and even dinner on some nights. I recently placed an online order for dinner at a popular, national chain restaurant at 10:30 in the morning. When I left work at 5:15, our dinner was neatly packaged, paid for and ready to take home.
Do you and your spouse or partner split household tasks? How do you do it?
Yes, we most definitely split household tasks. We don’t have any hard and fast roles, but I’d say I tend to do more of the day to day meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking.
He helps keep the kitchen clean, the coffee made, the trash can emptied, and our vehicles and landscaping maintained.
We both have our hand in managing our finances which keeps us both “in the know” about money matters.
If you have children, how do you and your spouse or partner split parenting responsibilities?
I wouldn’t say we really “split” parenting responsibilities. We both have equal influence and passion for raising our children into productive, independent young people. We aim to combine as many family areas as possible.
I homeschool our children, but my husband is very integrated into what our kids are doing academically. We attend worship together as a family; we attend extra-curricular activities together as a family.
If one of our children is playing a sport, our whole family is there to cheer them on. When anyone in our family has an event or commitment that’s important to them, we all work together to make sure they are able to participate.
On nights I have spouse coffees or irregular work hours, my husband jumps in to lighten my load. When he has an unexpected TDY or work event, I try to do the same.
We take it a day at a time.
Tell us one piece of tech you couldn’t live without:
It’s “low-tech” or rather “no-tech,” but I live and die by my Passion Planner. I’m old school and love a paper planner. This one helps me keep a monthly outlook on my goals and provides daily action steps to help me achieve them. I enjoy mapping out my week to ensure my priorities are met.
Favorite app for making the most of your day?
Downcast. I love listening to podcasts. I get productivity boosts from Michael Hyatt and Gretchen Rubin; I get faith-based motherhood inspiration from Jaime Ivey; I get financial/budgeting boost from Dave Ramsey. I get military spouse encouragement from Corie Weathers (LifeGiver).
Must-have song on your productivity playlist?
I adore Dolly Parton; her song from the movie of the same name, “9-to-5” gets me pumped. It reminds me that we all have a designated number of hours in a day; that we have to “hustle” to make our dreams come true despite “the man” making it difficult for us.
What is your No. 1 tip for a military spouse on the hunt for a job?
Don’t stress about it.
For a long time, I felt almost panicked that I may never work again after my husband commissioned into the military. The first few years were quite an adjustment to military life and I wasn’t even sure I wanted to try to maintain a professional career.
I have been a hybrid part-time college teacher/stay-at-home-mom/volunteer/take-a-professional-project-here-or-there/blogger/author over the past decade and each season has brought its own challenges AND rewards. Get creative and use your gifts and talents “outside the box” when those traditional professional opportunities don’t seem to present themselves.
When a traditional teaching job didn’t work out, I got creative. I wrote and published a book (Mission Ready Marriage: My Life as an Active Duty Wife). I took a few professional grading projects online. And I even opened my home 3 different times to homeschoolers for LEGO camps where the kids learned and I earned! I’ve taught in my area of expertise at home-school co-ops.
I’ve learned that “work” looks different in different seasons of life.
Sometimes my work is paid and sometimes it is not.
Sometimes my work is fulfilling and sometimes it is not.
Sometimes my “calling” is within the 4 walls of my home and sometimes it takes me out into other organizations.
My No. 1 tip is to try to be content in today.
If you’re constantly thinking that the *next* place, the *next* job, or the *next* opportunity will make you happy, you end up missing the blessing of today. Be diligent with what lies right in front of you. Then, when a job or opportunity crosses your path, you’ll be in the right state of mind to tackle the task.