When I met my husband, I was working 40+ (and I mean PLUS) hours as a NYC publicist. My career was practically my life and it was a struggle balancing my career with my relationship with my military man at the same time. Obviously, I couldn’t resist my husband’s charm and good looks. Our relationship grew as did my career. Then, he wooed me enough to marry him.
Shortly after saying “yes” to marry my husband, I knew I needed to start a game plan for myself careerwise. My time in New York City became numbered and I was freaking out. I thought the best thing I could do is meet other working military spouses.
I was eager to learn: How do they do it?!?
Before I PCSed to our new duty station, I made an effort to attend a networking event in the D.C. area. I drove from NYC to D.C. all by myself. I was scared and honestly, it brought back feelings of being that new girl at school. I sat at the nearest table and found myself conversing with seasoned military spouses (talk about intimidation for somebody that’s been married a handful of months and living away from an installation). There are so many great reasons for networking in person, so I had to suck it up with the veteran spouses. I quickly realized that everybody was wonderful and they made it really easy for me to feel comfortable.
We were all there for business development, but there was so much more to it. We talked about our lives and the things that motivates us on a personal level. In addition, we discussed where we came from and how we got to where we are.
That event taught me that other career driven spouses are all in it together, to help each other, both inside and outside the “office.”
And that was the answer to my question: How do they do it? How do they have a career and be a military spouse? The answer was their network. Their tribe of working military spouses.
I left there empowered and relieved. When I got home, I immediately linked up with them online. They all responded with genuine interest and wanted updates too. It was a turning point for me because I discovered that these women were also my friends.
Working military spouses are great friends to each other and the perfect encouragement and motivation needed for career growth.
One friend I met looked for rental properties in Alexandria, Va., because she lived in the area with her husband and 2 kids and knew I was PCSing to Fort Belvoir soon. Several military spouses passed along their business cards and asked me to reach out if I had any questions about military life in general.
I continued to nurture my relationships with several military spouses online and as a result, my network grew. If you open up your heart and share your interests, word spreads. And even if you meet someone that might not be involved in your particular field, they could know somebody that knows somebody. Like I mentioned, we’re all in this together and we’re always on the lookout for each other– and continuously learning from each other too.
I found the projects I’m currently working on now because other spouses were looking out for me. The opportunity to share my stories with NextGen MilSpouse came from another spouse that knew I loved to write. I can’t thank her enough, especially as a brand-new milspouse.
There are also awesome networking groups located all over for military spouses that encourages collaborative working. For example, InGear Career hosts local meet-ups with like-minded spouses who want to work toward career goals.
I’m convinced there must be some kind of working military spouse code. Instead of the “every man for themselves” mentality I’ve experienced in the civilian world, other military spouses are willing to find the strengths in each other and help pave the way that works best for us and always eager to offer advice.
It goes without saying that I’ve made fabulous friends by business networking. Natural conversation could lead to learning about similar interests or shared goals. Whether you have children or none to being in business for 10 years or 1, working military spouses are great friends to each other and the perfect encouragement and motivation needed for career growth.