Editor’s Note: Give us your lawyers, your accountants, your massage therapists. Give use your teachers, your engineers, your real estate agents.
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: Anna Blanch Rabe
Years as a military spouse: 2
Tell us your job: Executive Director, Ninth Judicial District Family & Children’s Court Services, Inc.
FCCS is a 501(c)(3) which, among other programs, operates the court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program for Curry & Roosevelt Counties in New Mexico. We serve over 180 children who have been abused and neglected.
I am an attorney by training but I’ve also worked in higher education as a lecturer/professor.
Is this full-time, part-time, hourly, contract or freelance work?
How long have you been working in this career field?
3 months – this job. Being creative about my approach to work as an attorney and academic –10 years.
Do you work in an office, telecommute from home (or Starbucks), or a little bit of both?
Office (with some travel and outreach into the community).
How did you get this position? Was it a resume, referral, job fair? Spill your magic.
Volunteering, boldness, and preparation were how I got this job!
I volunteered for 12 months as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) with the agency before the opportunity came to apply for the ED job.
I also took opportunities to get to know this community, the legal profession here, and the people involved. I applied and completed the Citizens Police Academy which helped me meet local law enforcement, I called the local District Attorney’s Office and offered to do serve pro bono for 3 months with them to meet some licensing requirements to be admitted in another state.
This gave me the opportunity to meet the local legal fraternity, including judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced while trying to maintain a hustle while living the military lifestyle?
I moved continents to be with my husband and I am unable to be licensed as an attorney in New Mexico. Those are pretty big challenges right there.
But out of necessity often creativity emerges.
I need to be creative with staying up to speed in my field, creative with seeking to support my husband in the midst of a demanding full-time schedule leading a nonprofit and creative with the kind of work I seek out.
Sometimes the distance from professional development can be a big challenge, but with the support of my husband and the wonder of the webinar, I’m able to maintain professional competency and find 1 to 2 events a year where I can attend in person to grow as a person and connect with other military spouse professionals!
Tell us one thing you love about your job.
Being willing to seek out meaningful work – in this case leading an organization which serves some of the most vulnerable members of this community – is incredibly satisfying.
We all think we are in control of the lives we lead, and the military seems to mess with our plans – but the reality is, when we accept that life is never stagnant and the military is just one player in that drama, we can be free to dream a little bigger and seek out what is really important in our work and lives in each act!
I love the way that my husband is inspired by my work and how excited he is by seeing me do well in my own career.
Share your best life-hack for saving time or sanity during the work week:
I have a few: I use icalender across all my devices – this keeps me on track and my staff can also add appointments; I borrow audio books from the library to help me keep reading (one of my favorite things) and to keep learning – these are great for the long drives I often have to do here in New Mexico; I try to take “seven” each day just after I get to work – this is about taking a moment to breathe and steady myself for the day ahead, and about figuring out what is bothering me the most so that I can take some steps that day to clear that from my to do list.
AnyList is a list app that we use specifically for shopping lists.
Do you and your spouse or partner split household tasks? How do you do it?
Definitely! Although to be transparent my husband does way more than his 50%. We try to discuss meals for the next couple of days and then usually whomever gets home first starts dinner. We try to make double quantities so that we have leftovers for lunches. We really enjoy cooking together. Although, often while I cook he is taking care of dishes and the dishwasher (he is pretty particular about how it is packed).
Because my husband is so good about cleaning and because his schedule is pretty intense I found someone to do a deep clean every few weeks – to see him rest on his days off has been completely worth it!
We used to spend quite a bit of time taking care of the backyard, but we’ve found that finding someone to help us with yard maintenance once a month means we can focus on making our house a home and hanging out together. I usually take care of getting the cars serviced and washed because my schedule is more flexible.
We manage our finances together with the help of a great program and app, YNAB, which helps especially when there are TDYs, work travel or crazy schedules meaning a budget meeting isn’t as easy to do.
AnyList is a list app that we use specifically for shopping lists. I can share, email or text them.
I was in hospital a couple of months ago, and because my recovery coincided with a long TDY we found someone to help me a couple of hours a few days a week. The amazing lady we found has been an absolute god-send.
The bottom line is this: we don’t try to do any of it alone. With both of us working over 40 hours a week we know we need help. I can see us continuing to ask for help from each other and others to make our life work.
Tell us one piece of tech you couldn’t live without:
My tablet, with my phone a close second. Not only can I do most of my tasks on the move, I love that I no longer have to carry around a heavy laptop. My shoulders are grateful!
Favorite app for making the most of your day?
Things – this is how i manage my to-do list. I combine home and work. Life becomes much easy to manage and productivity much easier to achieve.
Must-have song on your productivity playlist:
“Whenever, Wherever” by Shakira
What is your No. 1 tip for a military spouse on the hunt for a job?
Be bold. Don’t be afraid to ask about internships or ask a leader in the community out for coffee to let them know what you’re looking for.
The local chamber of commerce is often a great source in smaller communities – they know what is happening among local businesses.
Volunteering or interning for a certain period of time (say 3 months) can be an incredible way to get a job offer, but don’t go in hoping for that necessarily. Seek experiences for themselves and give it your best. Being committed and reliable when you are unpaid will make a huge impression to people who don’t know you yet – the job offers will come.