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: Veronica Holtz
Years as a military spouse: 5
Tell us your job title/profession:
Technical Writer for Carbonite. Basically I write and manage instructions and other documentation for a team of engineers.
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?
I work in an office, though I could work from home occasionally if needed
How did you get this position? Was it a resume, referral, job fair? Spill your magic.
1. When I found out we were PCSing to Boston, I Googled “Best Places to Work Boston”
2. I recognized Carbonite on the list from all those NPR ads
3. I checked their website and I saw they had an opening for a Tech Writer which is exactly what I was doing
4. I searched LinkedIn for someone in Carbonite’s HR department and sent a message. The person I contacted put me in touch with the appropriate recruiter
I had a phone interview from Texas. Since it was still a few months until I’d be there, they actually moved forward with in-person interviews without me and offered the job to someone else.
She bailed at the last minute and by then I was a couple weeks away from moving up there. I had been persistently following up with the recruiter every couple weeks and eventually he had me speak with the hiring manager and the rest is history.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced while trying to maintain a career while living the military lifestyle?
My degree is in meteorology and I always thought that when I got married that my career would sort of dominate and we’d go where it lead us. (Bold and naive, but I admire my 20something thinking!)
It was hard to face the fact that I wouldn’t be able to pursue a career in my field of study, but as it turns out, I really like my new field. I had taken a technical writing class in college as part of my meteorology degree, but it was hands down my least favorite class!
Also, since finding a job is better if you can network and meet people and pound the pavement, it can take a while to get going in a new place. Of course, with the internet and platforms like LinkedIn, it’s easier to get a head start before you arrive!
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.
Tell us one thing you love about your job.
I love that I work in downtown Boston. It’s cool working for a tech company and being in a city with so much innovation. I’ve learned a lot in my role, both about tech and working with people from different cultures. It’s expensive to live here, but the salary makes up for it!
Share your best life-hack for saving time or sanity during the work week:
Work out in the morning if you can. Then you don’t have to worry about it the rest of the day!
Do you and your spouse or partner split household tasks? How do you do it?
We do. Since my husband has a much longer commute, I try to do a little here and there before and after work. There are a few tasks that are specifically his (unloading dishwasher, for example) and I take care of all cat-related chores (since she was my cat when we met).
Otherwise we try to do what the other one loathes and split them up as evenly as possible. It’s a constant give and take.
I know we prefer to do chores at the same time. It can be aggravating cleaning while the other one is sitting around watching TV.
If you have children, how do you and your spouse or partner split parenting responsibilities?
He takes the baby to daycare since we go to the CDC. Otherwise we just work really hard to give each other breaks and also take time for each other. This is tricky since my husband has been deployed for the last 4 months. I sort of forgot how we did this!
Tell us one piece of tech you couldn’t live without:
My iPhone. I use it for so many different things!
Favorite app for making the most of your day?
Catch the Bus. I commute by bus, so I need to know when it’s coming!
Must-have song on your productivity playlist?
Ke$ha (I’m not really into music, but her albums really motivate me!)
What is your No. 1 tip for a military spouse on the hunt for a job?
Don’t pigeonhole yourself into one job career field. Write down all of your skills and ask friends/family/former colleagues how those can be rearranged into a new career. Look at the tasks you really enjoyed doing in previous roles and look for jobs that do a lot of that.
At my “weather” job, people would come to me to make their documents and presentations “pretty.” Now I get paid to do just that! I thought everyone could do my job, but as it turns out not many people like doing it and few are particularly good at it.
If you don’t find a job right away, VOLUNTEER! It plugs you in to the community, you meet new people, and you maintain and grow your skills. You know the saying “you need a job to get a job,” so a volunteer position could be that first job! At our last duty station, I started volunteering immediately and when we left, my husband and I had each served on the board for 2 years and we made a lot of good friends through that organization!
Do the legwork! A job won’t fall into your lap! Also, quality not quantity.
Don’t send out the same resume to 100 employers who may or may not have a job you’re qualified for.
Search for jobs where you meet at least 80% of the skills they’re looking for and then tailor that resume to highlight the skills mentioned in the job description. Don’t lie on your resume!
That’s like 3-5 tips….for someone who writes instructions for a living, I’m not always great at following them.