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: Erika Heeren
Years as a military spouse: 1.5
Tell us your job title/profession:
President & Content Strategist – Heeren Content & Strategy. I also work as an in-house business development associate for a local technology solutions firm.
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?
A bit of both!
How did you get this position? Was it a resume, referral, job fair? Spill your magic.
For my business, I built my client base through in-person and virtual networking. I wanted a job that I could adapt to fit changes in location, child care considerations, as well as my husband’s and my own education goals.
When I realized that this perfect job does not exist, I created one.
While I still work outside the home; running my own business from a virtual office provides an extra level of security for my family and ensures that I have the space to progress in my career – regardless of where the Army sends us.
I found my current job on Indeed.com. I treated my job search as a full-time job; a strong resume, being prepared for interviews, and consistent follow-up ensured that I had multiple offers to choose from. I was able to choose which job made the most sense for my family. It has really made all the difference.
I highly recommend researching the companies you plan to interview with prior to the meeting; it makes an impact when you have some idea of the environment which you are hoping to be hired into.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced while trying to maintain a career while living the military lifestyle?
The uncertainty of what comes next is definitely the biggest challenge I’ve faced. Prior to getting married, I had total control of my career and where I wanted to go.
Now, I have to have plans A through Z set in substantial detail in order to guarantee that I can continue progressing in my career. I’ve been very fortunate in finding a job where management is very accommodating when it comes to our military lifestyle.
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.
I recognize that many military spouses are not as fortunate in this regard, which was another motivator for starting Heeren Content & Strategy. It also allows me to advocate for causes like veteran and military family education, employment and entrepreneurship.
I hope to eventually hire other military spouses who may struggle to find a position that moves with them or adapts to life with children at home.
Tell us one thing you love about your job:
I learn something new every day! That’s what keeps me motivated day in and day out. I have the best of both worlds in this regard.
With my business, Heeren Content & Strategy, I am very much in my element. At the same time, I am constantly learning new methods of building a company that reflects me and my heart for the community. I really get to grow and make it my own.
As an in-house business development associate, I get to be more of a little fish in a big pond. My employer provides consistent opportunities for me to develop my skills on a grander scale. I have found that these opportunities stem, in part, from an open-minded attitude regarding position descriptions. Specifically, I don’t believe in the words “That’s not my job.”
If you have the opportunity to contribute outside of your set job description, do it! This has opened doors to new facets for my career, which is really exciting!
Share your best life-hack for saving time or sanity during the work week:
I plan for every minute, this includes my breaks. It’s a lot easier to stay focused and motivated when I
know I have a small reward within a reasonable time frame.
I also multi-task with everything.
If I’m on the treadmill, I’m catching up on market trends.
If I’m watching TV, I’m working on a blog.
Never is a moment wasted.
That way, when I do get my downtime, I don’t have another task looming over me! This is so helpful when working 2 jobs!
Do you and your spouse or partner split household tasks? How do you do it?
My husband and I split household tasks. I’ve been very blessed with a husband who believes in a true 50/50 partnership.
For example, I cook and he cleans the kitchen which leaves my evenings free to spend with the family and keep my deadlines. Of course, there are always days where one of us has to work longer hours and the other spouse will pick up the slack as best as they can.
Open communication is really important to us, and that understanding has helped to keep the household task list to a “dull roar!”
If you have children, how do you and your spouse or partner split parenting responsibilities?
My husband and I do split parenting responsibilities as needed. We follow many of the same rules as our household duties – like maintaining consistent communication.
I am fortunate enough to have a certain amount of allocated “flex time;” but we both work our schedules around helping with homework, reading stories, playing, and so on. We try and do as much as we can together instead of splitting these tasks. That time is very precious to both my husband and I.
Tell us one piece of tech you couldn’t live without:
Favorite app for making the most of your day?
Hootsuite! It’s the only way I can manage all of my social media accounts for a virtual small business and work another full-time job!
Must-have song on your productivity playlist?
Lifesong by Casting Crowns
What is your No. 1 tip for a military spouse on the hunt for a job?
If you start networking when you need an opportunity, you’re already late to the game. Don’t wait, make yourself visible!