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: Danielle Lankford
Years as a military spouse:
Tell us your profession:
I am the fund development director for The Sharing Place, a grief support center in Salt Lake City.
My job is amazing because I get to indulge my business and data mining side while doing great things for the kids who find refuge with us during a hard time. It’s so rewarding.
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?
office and telecommute
Tell us one thing you love about your job.
I spend my days telling stories about some pretty amazing people and once I’ve done that, raising the money is pretty easy.
How did you get this position? Was it a resume, referral, job fair? Spill your magic.
It was really coincidental actually. My husband and I had a friend die from suicide and went through a pretty traumatic grief experience ourselves.
About a month into therapy, I heard about The Sharing Place on This American Life, the podcast. And, I thought it was so amazing how the kids in the program could talk about difficult subjects like cancer and suicide and overdose so openly and authentically. I didn’t think much about it, but I felt like I could really use something like that in my life.
Wouldn’t you know just a couple months later, the development position opened up and I was really looking for that next step in my career but I thought I’d never get the job. I got two interviews and an offer and I was over the moon!
What is your No. 1 tip for a military spouse on the hunt for a job?
Don’t give up! It seems so daunting especially after a move, but things do happen if you just keep putting yourself out there.
Interviews suck and rejection hurts, but you’ve got to keep it up.
How do you feel about failure?
Failure is something I have been trying to get better at. It’s a learning opportunity, a chance to grow. I know that logically and I’m trying to live more of it now.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced while trying to maintain a career while living the military lifestyle?
Interviews. If I want to grow into a new opportunity, it’s so hard to get around those awkward questions.
We were stationed overseas for some time, so it always comes up “What brought you to England?” Errrr… I never know how to read their potential reaction, but I have found being honest and then turning it into a positive is best. You might be surprised. My current boss told me how much he was into Air Force history and planes, and it ended up being an asset.
What is the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received? Tell us the worst too, while you’re at it.
The best I received from my dad. He told me in college when I was considering changing my major, to just study something I couldn’t get enough of. If I loved it, I would excel in it, and if I excelled in it, I would stick with it and get a lot out of it. I could always turn it into any career I wanted just by highlighting the right parts of what I had learned to fit the job.
The worst I think I ever received was at a recent job when I was basically told you have to be miserable in your job for a while to work your way up. That’s just poor management.
Who is in your support squad?
My husband is my #1 hero. He has always supported me in my career choice, and more recently, through grad school. He took over household responsibilities while I was in night classes.
He cheers me on when I smash fundraising goals and listens to me when I’m dealing with a difficult donor or volunteer. He’s never complained about the event hours or the money we’ve spent on my school, and he knows he has to make an appearance at fundraising events and volunteer projects.
He doesn’t even ask, he just does.
Do you and your spouse or partner split household tasks? How do you do it?
Yes, we each have chores for certain days of the week and we divide up making dinner as well.
Share your best life-hack for saving time or sanity during the work week.
Waking up early. It’s been a long and hard process getting myself to do it, but I get so much more done in the morning and then I can just hang out and watch TV at night to wind down after work.
What’s your favorite app for making the most of your day?
If you had an extra hour in your day, what would you do?
It sounds cheesy, but I think I’d do more yoga. Sitting at a desk gets to you after a while, and I feel so refreshed after a stretch session.
If you were a superhero, what would be your super power?
My super power would be super healing because that’s what I like to think I do at work every day by bringing in the resources that continue to allow processing and healing through our doors.