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: Margaret Varona
Years as a military spouse:
Tell us your job title/profession:
I’m co-owner and co-founder of ServingTalent – the first full-service recruiting agency focused solely on placing military and government spouses in professional positions.
Marcelle Yeager (a foreign service spouse) and I decided to try to take a crack at solving the insane levels of unemployment and underemployment among professional military and government spouses. We’re building relationships with employers who understand the value we can bring – flexibility, creativity, adaptability, and loyalty – just to name a few.
At ServingTalent, we’re slowly but surely winning over employers by showing them that we are an untapped resource that can make great contributions to their organizations.
Is this full-time, part-time, hourly, contract or freelance work?
I’ll say full-time, but the workload varies greatly from week to week.
How long have you been working in this career field?
We started the business in 2015.
Do you work in an office, telecommute from home (or Starbucks), or a little bit of both?
We work from our homes.
How did you get this position? Was it a resume, referral, job fair? Spill your magic.
For ServingTalent, we started it ourselves, impatient with how difficult it was to find a job amidst so many PCSs. But as we work more and more with employers, we’re realizing that jobs for military spouses are definitely out there.
The trick is to attack it proactively and be creative.
For example, if you are an educator, there are numerous opportunities with online universities to work as an adjunct professor. For those of you who are techies, there are lots of employers out there looking to fill IT positions that are 100% work from home.
I wouldn’t say there’s any particular “magic,” but I think the secret sauce is doing your homework and networking. We were amazed at how many groups and organizations are out there helping military spouses every day. They’re not always easy to find, but they are out there. We’ve been so impressed with how accessible and willing to help they are – MSEP, NMFA, MOAA and Blue Star Families just to name a few.
There are also so many Facebook groups and blogs out there with super friendly military spouses who are willing to share tips and tricks and help a fellow spouse.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced while trying to maintain a career while living the military lifestyle?
For many years, I worked from home as a finance director for a small IT consulting company. The moves were brutal since as we all know, there’s always the time right before and right after a PCS where we don’t have internet, don’t have our stuff, are complete nomads. Trying to run payroll from a coffee shop with an intermittent internet connection was stressful to say the least. Nevermind if I had to actually print something!!!!!
Tell us one thing you love about your job.
I love that I’m helping people to NOT have to choose between supporting their family and having a career. No one wants to have to make that choice and in this day and age where working from home is so much more common, it shouldn’t be necessary to have to give up your career aspirations to be with the person you love. Hopefully ServingTalent is taking a small step toward making that dream a reality.
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.
Share your best life-hack for saving time or sanity during the work week:
My kids (ages 6, 8, and 11) make their own lunches! I know – it sounds so stupid – but I used to spend an hour every night surrounded by a pile of tupperware containers and PB&J fixings only to have my kids all whine and complain the next day about what I’d packed. Now, after dinner, they all do it themselves as my husband and I clean up from dinner and it’s awesome!
Do you and your spouse or partner split household tasks? How do you do it?
Yes, we split whatever we can. It gets hard sometimes since he has to travel a lot and I have more flexibility in my day, but we do try to share responsibilities whenever possible. We take turns making dinner, he does the supermarket runs since I can’t stand shopping, I do the laundry, we take turns reading to the kids at night.
The thing I’ve learned to do over time is to cry uncle when I’m overwhelmed without feeling badly about it. I used to think I should be able to do it all myself. I’ve given up that nonsense and started just saying, I need help with this or I need you to take this over so I can take it off my radar completely. It’s helped a TON.
Tell us one piece of tech you couldn’t live without:
The maps app on my phone. After PCSing to a new place, it saves me from spending the first 6 months lost.
Favorite app for making the most of your day?
Simple, but it’s the calendar on my phone. EVERYTHING goes on it and a reminder pops up 15 minutes before every task.
Must-have song on your productivity playlist?
Honey I’m Good by Andy Grammer
What is your No. 1 tip for a military spouse on the hunt for a job?
Treat your job search like it’s a job in and of itself. Make time for it every single day and set deadlines for yourself. Network, network, network! And send your resume to ServingTalent!