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.
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Name: Jessica Howington
Years as a military spouse:
Tell us your job title/profession:
Content Manager at FlexJobs
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?
Completely remote from my home office
Tell us one thing you love about your job.
Only one?!?!?! To encompass many of my favorite things, I’d say the vision/mission behind my job, the team and the company.
How did you get this position? Was it a resume, referral, job fair? Spill your magic.
It was using FlexJobs’ services, oddly enough.
I had a part-time job at the time, but wanted to go full-time, or find more part-time work to supplement my income, as we were going to be PCSing back to the States. When I signed up for the service, one of the first jobs I saw was for FlexJobs. I was SO nervous. When they reached out about my application/resume for a job as a researcher with FlexJobs I was beside myself, yet still a little nervous as the company was still very small and new. I was interviewed by the CEO, Sara Sutton Fell, and instantly knew it was the job for me.
Seven years later, joining (FlexJobs) was the best decision I’ve made in my career, and I’m lucky enough to help support a company that wants to bring flexible work to the world, including military spouses.
What is your No. 1 tip for a military spouse on the hunt for a job?
Don’t limit yourself by applying constraints and restrictions that are typical in a traditional job search. Use services like FlexJobs to help you find a job that will travel with you, apply your many skills to get outside of a strict career field, LOOK for flexible work, and do the research necessary to find an employer that will support you.
Once you let go of the restrictions and think outside the box, a world of opportunities present themselves.
My other big one is honesty. I hear a lot of military spouses say they lie about being a military spouse. I’m not suggesting you scream it from the rooftops, but it doesn’t have to hold you back. If you know an employer is worried about your affiliation, come armed with examples of how it won’t be an issue/hindrance to your employment.
How do you feel about failure?
Failure is necessary. It is how we learn and how we prove to ourselves that we can be better. Nobody is perfect. It’s all about how you recover from that failure, what you learn from it, and how you utilize that information moving forward.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced while trying to maintain a career while living the military lifestyle?
I’ve been blessed with my current job, but prior to that it was quite difficult. I need to be able to have flexible hours and be able to work outside of an office.
With an active duty spouse and three kids, I am the only constant we have, so having the flexibility at work gives me the wiggle room I need to maintain my sanity. Flexible work has also helped with the other challenges such as deployments and a lack of child care.
What is the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received? Tell us the worst too, while you’re at it.
The best (advice) would be to get uncomfortable. To grow you need to change and change is uncomfortable. Obviously you don’t want to be miserable, but a little discomfort can push a person to change perspectives and open their mind.
The worst would be to lie. DO NOT EVER lie to an employer. They will find out and not only did you get busted for not being truthful, you’ll be known as such moving forward.
Who is in your support squad and what role do they play in supporting your career?
My husband is my biggest supporter, but I’d also say that my coworkers are as well. Those around me know that I need to work for personal satisfaction and that I take great pride in being a hard worker. Given the military lifestyle, though, it can be a challenge. They all champion around me when the tough times arise allowing me to do what I need to do to make it all happen.
Do you and your spouse or partner split household tasks? How do you do it?
It hasn’t been an easily traveled road to get to where we are, though, and being married almost 17 years helps two people learn what the other needs. (We were married and had an infant when my husband joined.) For the most part it is about communication. What works one week/month won’t work the next. We both try to be mindful about speaking up about what we need help with.
I’m also super organized and productive and a big believer that you work hard to play hard, so even the kids know when mom means business.
Share your best life-hack for saving time or sanity during the work week.
Meal planning and scheduling. Plan, plan, plan, but be adaptable.
Tell us one piece of tech you couldn’t live without that isn’t your phone:
What’s your favorite app for making the most of your day?
What’s your must-have song on your productivity playlist?
Right now anything by Imagine Dragons
If you had an extra hour in your day, what would you do with it?
I would find a quiet place in the woods that has sun filtering through the trees and I would just sit and take it all in.
If you were a superhero, what would be your super power?
Making others believe in themselves.