Recently, In Gear Career, a military spouse program of Hiring Our Heroes, hosted our first AMPLIFY event. For myself, and for Adrianna Domingos-Lupher, the founder of NextGen MilSpouse and a former board member of In Gear Career, AMPLIFY was a labor of love.
Our goal for AMPLIFY was a military spouse event where we could customize the programming and host hands-on professional development workshops revolving around the career journeys of those in attendance.
I’m really pleased with the feedback from the AMPLIFY attendees and In Gear Career can’t WAIT to do more of these events next year, but I wanted to share a few of the things I learned at AMPLIFY that renewed my focus and passion when it comes to military spouse employment.
4 Lessons from AMPLIFY 2016
AMPLIFY Lesson #1: It’s Never Too Late
This applies first to the long-term dreaming and scheming about this event and wondering if we would have the means to host a military spouse professional development workshop (and whether interest would be great enough to support replication).
It also applies, however, to the military spouses that attended AMPLIFY.
We had attendees in many places along their military spouse career journey. Some were just getting started in their chosen field while others were in the middle of their journey and several were returning to the workforce after a lengthy time away.
No matter where these spouses found themselves in their career journeys, they were dedicated, focused and digging in.
The collective talent in the room reminded me that employers will truly benefit if they find ways to look past these resume gaps and plug military spouses into their organizations.
AMPLIFY Lesson #2: Power in Small Numbers
We purposely kept AMPLIFY small. We designed the program for 25 attendees and due to a few last-minute cancellations, there were 21 attendees. This allowed us to really dig in with each attendee as we worked on resumes, improved LinkedIn profiles and developed actionable steps for each person’s journey.
The size of our cohort also created the ability to form a community. We have a Facebook group, and it was so great for me to see some of the folks grabbing coffee the next week to continue work they started during AMPLIFY.
This type of community also renewed my focus on our In Gear Career chapters that are meeting on a regular basis around the world.
Finding a community of like-minded military spouses is empowering.
Not only for the potential networking connections, but also for the moral support, the confidence boost and the tips and tricks for navigating our crazy military life.
If you haven’t checked out one of our In Gear Career chapters (IN PERSON), I really hope you’ll do so soon. The smile I’ve seen on the faces of those that realize “I’m not the only one!” keep me going in my day-to-day push for this organization. Click here to find an In Gear Career chapter near you.
AMPLIFY Lesson #3: Networking Is STILL Where the Magic Is
Seriously, I will never stop talking about the power of networking. One of the sessions for AMPLIFY was called “Mastermind Matchups” where we matched our attendees with someone in their industry that could listen to their journey, give some information and pointers, help develop next steps and/or set goals, and potentially provide some networking connections.
This was definitely one of the more popular sessions that we offered, but to me, it was EVEN COOLER to overhear conversations amongst the attendees where everyone was offering connections to one another because their spouse worked in that industry or their neighbor was doing something similar to another attendee.
These connections also renewed my focus and passion for our In Gear Career chapters because they can make the same types of connections on the ground in local areas.
I’ve made the joke many times, but Kevin Bacon has nothing on a military spouse when it comes to connections.
Joining an In Gear Career chapter is a great way to not only find connections for yourself, but to give back to our community and pass connections to someone else.
AMPLIFY Lesson #4: Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day…Neither Is a Good Resume
I had some grand visions for AMPLIFY and while I’m happy with how our first event turned out, there is definitely still room to grow.
One of the things I had hoped for is that everyone would leave with a completed resume and a completely updated LinkedIn profile. While it will always be my goal to provide concrete time to work on these things during our events, I learned that it may be more reasonable to think that each person can leave with a concrete action plan that they can complete after AMPLIFY is over.
In addition to the resume workshop comments, we received some really great feedback to help us shape future events and I cannot WAIT to reveal what we have in store for AMPLIFY in 2017.
While I’ve never wavered in my belief in military spouse professionals, my passion was once again intensified while working with the great spouses who attended AMPLIFY 2016.
To learn more about AMPLIFY, please visit http://bit.ly/IGCAMPLIFY and then I would LOVE to hear from all of you