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: Kellie Artis
Years as a military spouse:
Tell us your job title/profession:
Is this full-time, part-time, hourly, contract or freelance work?
How long have you been working in this career field?
In some form or another, I guess you could say since I earned my degree in the field – so on and off for 14 years. Communications is nice and generic like that. I have tinkered in other fields, but always with a slant toward what I know.
Do you work in an office, telecommute from home (or Starbucks), or a little bit of both?
Tell us one thing you love about your job.
Hands down – the connections with other military spouses I’ve been able to make while helping alleviate PCS stress for military families. In order to build the installation guides for gomillie.com, I have had the privilege of hosting virtual focus groups at over 70 installations where milspouses gave me all the juicy intel on living near xyz installation.
We laugh, we commiserate and we exchange hard-earned nuggets of information to help the next family reporting to that duty station get plugged in quickly!
How did you get this position? Was it a resume, referral, job fair? Spill your magic.
I stumbled across a company that I was so excited about that I couldn’t resist applying for a position that I was completely unqualified for! A friend forwarded me a job listing from a Facebook group (probably Milspo Project or In Gear Career) for a social media coordinator position with MILLIE – a brand new company looking to change the way military families PCS.
Having ZERO experience with social media management beyond my own personal profile management, I applied. I was honest with the team about my lack of experience but stressed my ability to pick up new tech skills, my innate curiosity and passion for learning new things. I was passionate about the mission of this company and focused each interview on convincing them to let me in (in any capacity) on what they were doing.
After two interviews, I was not offered the social media position.
However, the forward-thinking founders offered me something much more suited to my talents. The position I landed was something they had planned on filling later on down the road, but since I was there, capable, and eager they went ahead and made room for me on the team.
What is your No. 1 tip for a military spouse on the hunt for a job?
Start with companies or an industry that you want to work in, then get your foot in the door whether they’re hiring for what you want to do or not. Even (or ESPECIALLY) if there isn’t an open position, propose what you could offer them and be willing to work through a trial period.
If you’re passionate about the company to start with, pursue them, identify a need that they may not even know they have, and show how you can fill it. Most of my resume is made up of positions that companies created for me once I showed them how I can help them out. Be willing to work out a trial period with less than ideal pay so you can prove your worth to them, but set a solid date for an evaluation (I usually do 30 days) where you guys can evaluate your role and a salary that you’ve proven your worth.
Sadly, the odds of finding the perfect job listing when you arrive at a new duty station are pretty slim. So, reach out to companies that you could see yourself working for, then go for it!
You never know what conversations are going on behind the scenes and what future needs can potentially be.
Even if you don’t snag a position at that time, at least you’re now on their radar. Be confident in what you bring to the table, and pursue anything that looks interesting. Don’t be afraid to make connections and utilize your networks! You never know what could turn up.
How do you feel about failure?
I mean, it’s never fun but if viewed through a healthy lens failure can be transformative.
There is no innovation without failure, and creativity thrives in environments where taking risks is encouraged.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced while trying to maintain a career while living the military lifestyle?
Understanding my value.
Yes, I may move in two years, but the two years that you have me as an employee will be insanely productive. Yes, I may be distracted and preoccupied when my husband is gone and my kids are sick, but I am loyal, trustworthy and resilient.
Yes, you as an employer may be taking a risk on an unknown by hiring a military spouse, but if you’re open to some unconventional practices (like letting me telecommute or operate in another time zone) you’ll see productivity soar.
Yes, my resume is hilarious and makes utterly no sense, but if you take a step back and look at the broader picture you’ll see someone who has amassed an impressive array of skill sets in a variety of industries with tenacity, creativity and grit.
Learning to sell all of those things to potential employers has been a challenge, but now I know my value and will fight for it.
What is the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received? Tell us the worst too.
Best – Always push through “no.” No hardly ever means no, so once you determine how to push through that, an entire world of possibilities can open up to you. Whether that is getting what you need or want, or doing it for a boss, don’t ever take a no at face value. Regroup and figure out another approach. “Maybe” is something everyone can work with.
Worst – I once had a boss tell me that “you can’t trust anyone to do their job.”
I was an executive assistant at the time to a man who had a penchant for micro-management. He basically trained me to follow up on EVERY minute aspect of my day, double-triple-quadruple checking behind literally everything I ordered/hired/booked. I spend an enormous amount of time making sure that things (as sold) would be delivered. There were many times that it worked out well for me since someone on the other end had, indeed, dropped the ball. But, I think there’s so much more value in propping people up for success (particularly subordinates) rather than expecting them to fail.
Who is in your support squad and what role do they play in supporting your career?
We have a killer team at MILLIE and that extends well beyond our core team. Our MILLIE Scout network of 100+ milspouses are crucial in the work I do. We lean on them to help us fill our focus groups, shoot area photos, create commute charts (they literally drive to the points!), and helping us spread our message! All I have to do is call out to our Scout Squad, and they show up in droves to contribute information that will help the community!
They are the reason we have been able to accomplish so much this past year!
In that same vein, our AgentHeroes (MILLIE’s network of 600+ milspouse and veteran real estate agents) are always ready and able to contribute valuable and relevant information about their communities! Everyone we’re connected with is super passionate about supporting our mission of Bringing Military Families Home.
My spouse is a huge support and has always been supportive of the random career paths I’ve pursued. He is patient and understanding with the after-hours work I put in once the kids are asleep. He’s also my biggest cheerleader when I’m feeling undervalued. There’s a huge need for validation when you have to reinvent yourself every few years, and he is attuned to that in me and always reaffirms my worth.
Do you and your spouse or partner split household tasks?
We probably split up household stuff the way most folks do, but my husband isn’t afraid to cook, vacuum, and do bedtime with the kids if I have a deadline or need to work at night.
Share your best life-hack for saving time or sanity during the work week.
Outsource as much as you can. I shop online for groceries, have a cleaning service to help with housework, and even a meal planning app. If someone else can get it done faster/better than I can, for less than I make, I hire it out.
Tell us one piece of tech you couldn’t live without that isn’t your phone.
My laptop. I WOULD say my Apple Watch, but Santa Claus dropped the ball this year so I’m putting it out to the universe in advance of my birthday.
Favorite app for making the most of your day?
Slack is probably the most essential for work, but I love Wunderlist for all my to-dos.
Must-have song on your productivity playlist?
I jam out to a 90s rap Pandora station when I really need to get *ish done.
If you had an extra hour in your day, what would you do with it?
Or maybe nap.
Sadly, they usually go hand-in-hand!
If you were a superhero, what would be your super power?
I would love to have super-sonic speed reading abilities and a photographic memory. There are so many things I’m curious about and would love to explore!