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: Melissa Bird
Years as a military spouse:
Tell us your profession:
I am a Program Director in Corporate Citizenship at First Data.
Each day, I work to support our company’s efforts around corporate social responsibility, including diversity and inclusion, philanthropy, supplier diversity, sustainability, and social and civic responsibility. Our company is global so our efforts include extending programs and initiatives to our international colleagues, as well as at the dozens of work locations across the United States.
Corporate Citizenship is a relatively new initiative for our company, and I am part of an amazing team who just so happen to be comprised of veterans, military spouses and military brats. Many of us came to First Data as part of the Military and Veteran Affairs team and have shifted into the start-up Corporate Citizenship program.
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?
Mainly in an office but a little bit of both.
Tell us one thing you love about your job.
Just one thing?!
The team I work with every day is small but mighty. We have our own specific roles and responsibilities, but each person is eager to jump in and help out as needed, never saying “that’s not my job.” We support each other as family and they truly have become part of my extended family, even though we all reside in different areas of the country.
How did you get this position? Was it a resume, referral, job fair? Spill your magic.
I met my supervisor, the dynamic Dr. Vivian Greentree, through mutual friends I worked with in a previous job position.
The military community is very close-knit and full of people looking for the next opportunity to lift up another veteran or military spouse.
What is your No. 1 tip for a military spouse on the hunt for a job?
Network! You never know where your next job or meaningful work opportunity will come from whether it is at an office, in front of a computer, or in your community. If you do not put yourself out there, you may never discover your full potential. You also may miss out on meeting some truly incredible people who will help to shape your future.
How do you feel about failure?
It is part of life. What matters is how you move on from failure. Personally, I have a tendency to wallow in my sorrows for a short time and I recognize that is not the most efficient way of handling failure. I give myself that grace, but then completely move on and charge ahead, leaving failure in the past. It is something that is going to happen throughout life, no matter who you are or how hard you try, so accept it and let it drive you forward.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced while trying to maintain a career while living the military lifestyle?
My biggest challenge is accepting that I am doing my best and giving myself grace, even when I cannot fulfill all “expectations.” And I put “expectations” in quotes because those are self-assessed expectations.
My kids are fed, clothed, safe and loved. (That statement also could be applied for my husband – ha!) I get to work on time, strive to be a high-performer on the job, and fulfill my tasks and responsibilities.
However, my house is messy right now, I need to do our taxes, and the dog could use a walk. But that is all extra at the moment. I have to acknowledge that I cannot do it all and that #momguilt is real, especially when your home feels like a revolving door with military life.
What is the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received? Tell us the worst too, while you’re at it.
Work for the job level you want, not the one you have.
If you want to be a corporate executive, then each day you should be working hard to move up the corporate ladder. If you want to own your own business, then spend time working on educating yourself about entrepreneurship and developing your business plan.
The worst advice I have received is to just do your job and nothing more. There is always something more that can be done to set you apart from the next person. Your ambition and drive speak volumes about who you are as a person and the potential you have in a career.
Who is in your support squad and what role do they play in supporting your career?
My support squad is comprised of my current coworkers and former colleagues who also are military spouses. They keep me going on the days where you feel burned out and provide that necessary level of sarcasm and dry humor needed to survive in the corporate world, as well as military life.
Do you and your spouse or partner split household tasks? How do you do it?
Now that we have two children, there is more of a need to split household tasks. We definitely fall into some of the gender-stereotype roles where my husband takes out the trash, mows the lawn and kills unwanted creatures in the house, but we have found more of a balance in sharing cooking and cleaning responsibilities since adding a second kiddo to the nest.
Share your best life-hack for saving time or sanity during the work week.
I believe in saving sanity more than time so let it go. (Now you’re singing that song, aren’t you?)
If you are mentally exhausted, take a break.
Let household chores wait until the weekend (unless you are out of clean underwear for the kids, then put in a load of laundry).
ALSO, let your kids help with the chores. Sure, you may have to go back and redo their “hard work” eventually, but they are learning life skills and soon enough you will be able to take some of those chores of your own plate. And a little cleaner is better than not.
Tell us one piece of tech you couldn’t live without that isn’t your phone:
Stereo speaker to play music.
What’s your favorite app for making the most of your day?
Spotify. Music drives my world.
If you had an extra hour in your day, what would you do with it?
Please just let me sleep. I have a four year old and a five month old – give me all the sleep.
If you were a superhero, what would be your super power?
I want to be eternally caffeinated. The effects of coffee without the coffee.