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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: Taylor Miller
Years as a military spouse: 3
Tell us your job title/profession:
I am currently employed as the Donor Engagement Coordinator for the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore.
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?
In the office
How did you get this position? Was it a resume, referral, job fair? Spill your magic.
My background is not at all in nonprofit work nor philanthropy. In fact, it’s nowhere close.
I have a B.S. degree in Safety and Environmental Management and worked in Risk Control for insurance companies.
After our last PCS, I struggled to find a job in our new duty station so I began volunteering at the Foodbank in Norfolk, Va. One thing led to another and 2 years later I have found a role that I truly enjoy.
The 2 years of regular volunteer tasks were almost an extended interview process.
My now coworkers were able to get a good feel for my personality and work ethic just as I was able to confirm that I truly valued this organization’s mission.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced while trying to maintain a career while living the military lifestyle?
The biggest challenge that I’ve faced while trying to maintain a career while living the military lifestyle is the “unknown” that lies ahead.
With only 2 years at a duty station, what happens if it takes me 12 to 18 months to find a job?
What happens if we have to PCS sooner than expected? I am the type of person that is very set in their ways.
For example, I would have never changed my major in college because to me, that was failing and giving up (seems ridiculous, right?). Even after working for an organization that provided employment readiness assistance to military spouses, it took me a long time to realize that I was allowed to reinvent myself.
I wasn’t “failing” if I didn’t end up with a job in the career field that I went to school for and that was a hard thing for me to process. Once I came to the realization, I was able to expand my horizons and things started falling into place a bit easier.
Tell us one thing you love about your job:
The one thing I love about my current job is that every workday is different experience. Throughout my career reinvention, I have identified that is what is important for me to be both happy and successful as I don’t fair well with monotonous work.
In my previous roles, I worked for a commercial insurance company and was on the road daily inspecting different facilities and I loved it (it was like a field trip every day!).
Nowadays at the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore, I work with many of our donors to help them plan their food and fund drives. I could begin my day working with a 6 year old who is donating their money from their lemonade stand, spend my lunch speaking to a group about our mission and end it planning a 57-hour straight food drive before Thanksgiving.
It’s amazing how you can have very similar qualities in two very different jobs!
Share your best life-hack for saving time or sanity during the work week:
Meal plan. Meal plan. Meal plan.
But seriously, have you heard of the mason jar salads? It may be a fad for some, but to me, it saves my sanity.
On Sunday, I’ll make up an entire week’s worth of lunches that I’m just able to grab and go each morning. This ensures that I will at least get one healthy, nutritious meal in during the day especially on those nights where I may work late or my husband is not home and I simply just don’t feel like cooking.
The same goes for dinners. I always sit down on the weekend and write out every day for the following week. Then, I’ll go through and fill in each day with obligations that are already scheduled (i.e. “Wednesday – dinner meeting” or “Friday – Duty Night”).
This allows me to see how many meals I actually need to shop and prepare for without wandering through the aisles trying to figure out what to have for dinner and wasting too much food.
Do you and your spouse or partner split household tasks? How do you do it?
With my husband’s schedule it is near impossible for us to split household tasks, but when he is available, we do a good job at maintaining a balance.
Regardless of what time he gets home in the evening, we always come together over preparing, eating and cleaning up dinner. It’s our time to catch up on the day and share a bit of it together, so it feels more like a treat rather than a household task.
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.
If you have children, how do you and your spouse or partner split parenting responsibilities?
Does a puppy count?
Tell us one piece of tech you couldn’t live without:
Favorite app for making the most of your day?
I’m going to go basic here and say Calendar. With multiple schedules and events each week, it’s nice to have everything in one place.
Must-have song on your productivity playlist?
Cage The Elephant – Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked
What is your No. 1 tip for a military spouse on the hunt for a job?
My No. 1 tip for a military spouse on the job hunt is to not be afraid to pursue a career reinvention. You are not failing by choosing to go down a different path than what you may have focused on in college.
For nearly the first 2 years of being a military spouse, I walked through the job hunt with blinders on because I was only looking for that perfect job…you know, the one I had prior to marrying into the military.
What I ended up realizing was that this prevented me from going out on a limb, taking a risk and ultimately finding my true passion which is nonprofit work. It is amazing what doors open up for you when you don’t limit the opportunities available.
And the best part? You will truly find yourself in the process.