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: Jessica Hall
Years as a military spouse:
Tell us your job title/profession:
Social Media Manager, NextGen MilSpouse / Freelance Writer / Email Marketer / Communications Consultant
Is this full-time, part-time, hourly, contract or freelance work?
Part-time 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?
Telecommute from home
Tell us one thing you love about your job.
I work with some really awesome people that inspire me to always keep learning and doing better. I also love being able to tell stories and bring them to our audiences. Figuring out how to do that well is always a challenge but a really fun part of my job.
How did you get this position? Was it a resume, referral, job fair? Spill your magic.
I started working with NextGen MilSpouse after pitching a story idea to them and later applied with my resume to the social media manager position.
My other freelance work has come through referrals and personal connections. One on my clients was someone that I used to work with at my last full-time job. We were talking about a new project as I was PCSing and leaving my position so I offered to come on as a contractor to do the project. That was over a year ago and I’ve done a few other small projects for them as well as needed.
What is your No. 1 tip for a military spouse on the hunt for a job?
Have a group of friends, family and colleagues that you can turn to for support. These people will help you bounce ideas off of them, proofread your resume and cover letter, give you that push to apply to a job even when you’re not sure if it’s the perfect job, talk you through your interview nerves, commiserate with you don’t get the job and help you celebrate if you score the job. I am so grateful for my support group who have done all of these things and more whenever I’m on the hunt.
How do you feel about failure?
Failure sucks in the moment but every failure I’ve had has led to a lesson or a better opportunity. When the feeling of sadness over the failure has passed I look back and think about what happened.
I look for a lesson in it – maybe I could have done something differently or approach the situation in another manner.
It is cliche but I do believe that everything happens for a reason. So if a job doesn’t work out, it’s really OK, a better one will come along.
If you make a mistake, own it and offer solutions to your boss on how you can fix the problem at hand; by doing this you show that you are mature, responsible and that you can bounce back. If you did something wrong, fix it, even if you’re beating yourself up over it at the time. You’ll feel so much better when it’s resolved. Mistakes happen, failures happen, learn from them and you’ll be a better employee.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced while trying to maintain a career while living the military lifestyle?
Telling my own story. It’s ironic since I help others tell their story but shifting from magazines to nonprofits to freelance work seems weird at times to others.
Figuring out a clear way to explain the shift that’s not “I fell in love and moved across the country and switched my focus” can be difficult, especially when in a new job market and wanting to find a job that includes your skillset but that may be in a different industry.
What is the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received? Tell us the worst too, while you’re at it.
Best – keep learning. Things change all the time, especially in the digital world where I do a lot of my work. If I don’t keep up on trends then my clients suffer.
Worst – it wasn’t advice as much of a look. It said, “Why are you leaving NYC?”
While I loved my job in New York and the path my career could have taken, it wasn’t meant to be.
There is more to life than your job, you have to consider your family and self – being with people you love and doing what you love – it is hard to do both when we move all the time, but having mentors that support all aspects of your life is important.
Who is in your support squad (i.e. spouse, neighbor, bff) and what role do they play in supporting your career?
My husband is the main member of my squad. He encourages me to apply for jobs, do my best at my job, find ways to do things better, and he thinks that I’m the best at what I do at all times. While that is probably up for debate, his encouragement is always what keeps me motivated.
The rest of my squad is made up of close friends – military and not – they are in a variety of industries, including my own. These friends have helped me fine-tune cover letters and have been there to bounce ideas off of when I’m working on a work project or just need some inspiration.
Do you and your spouse or partner split household tasks?
We split things up but each have our primary chores. I do the laundry and he’s on bathroom duty. We both take care of cooking and dishes. We try to take care of small tasks throughout the week but usually have a cleaning day on the weekend where we tackle the whole house – from going through the stack of mail to sweeping the floors.
We also split time taking care of our daughter. He takes care of her on the mornings during the weekend so I can sleep in and we both split time with her solo so we can run errands or hang out with friends.
Share your best life-hack for saving time or sanity during the work week:
Meal planning. This saves me from guessing what we will be eating for dinner during the week. And if my husband comes home early he can grab the recipe and go!
We also make breakfasts for the week on Sunday that we can quickly eat in the morning, overnight oatmeal or breakfast casseroles, saving us a lot of time when we’re still waking up for the day.
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.
Tell us one piece of tech you couldn’t live without that isn’t your phone:
My iPad. I use it as a cookbook pulling up my favorites saved to Pinterest.
What’s your favorite app for making the most of your day?
When I need a break I turn to Two Dots.
Must-have song on your productivity playlist?
Girl on Fire (Inferno Version) by Alicia Keys with Nicki Minaj. It always pumps me up.
If you had an extra hour in your day, what would you do with it?
Sleep! Did I mention that I have a baby?
If you were a superhero, what would be your super power?
Super fast travel. I’d love to visit and be with my family and friends around the world whenever I could, whether for a special occasion or just to say hi. Being a military family is great because you know people in a lot of places, but it is hard because you can’t always be there when you want to be because plane tickets are expensive, amiright?
Are you a working military spouse? Do you want to share your career tips and tricks? Fill out the MilSpouses Who Work It Q&A today. Click here to complete our form.