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: Christine Maxwell
Years as a military spouse:
Tell us your job title/profession:
I am a Senior Budget Analyst at the University of Virginia
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 from my home office in Colorado Springs.
Tell us one thing you love about your job.
I’ve always worked in industries where my co-workers and managers are predominately male. However, in this position, my managers all the way up to our VP of Finance are all female and working moms. It’s refreshing to see strong female leaders advancing their careers and balancing their family and personal at the same time.
This has also been the first time that when an employer found out I had to move due to my husband’s military duties, I was offered a virtual position, working from home. I love that my managers value my time and effort but are also concerned that I succeed in my life outside of work as well.
How did you get this position? Was it a resume, referral, job fair? Spill your magic.
I saw this position listed on UVA’s job site and applied for it. It was a little bit of a “reach” position for me, since I had never worked in Higher Education, but I knew I wanted it.
I think I was honest and proactive with my (now current) manager during the interview process. When she e-mailed me to tell me they would be scheduling interviews, I called her back and told her I was excited and ready to start the process. At the end of my in-person interview, I told her and the rest of the panel that, although I was interviewing for other jobs and had some offers, THIS was the job I wanted and I wanted to work for her.
Although I thought I would be in Charlottesville for 2 to 3 years, about 6 months into my new job I had to tell my manager that my husband had received orders to move in a few months. I remember being so upset and feeling so guilty that I had to move. About 30 minutes later, my manager came back and asked if I would be interested in telecommuting…I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, I had found the magical unicorn of jobs!
What is your No. 1 tip for a military spouse on the hunt for a job?
Tell everyone you know that you are looking for a job! Use your virtual and real-life networks to spread the word and see what opportunities are out there waiting for you! When you are ready to start the job search have your resume perfected and don’t forget to let your go-to references know that you are on the hunt.
How do you feel about failure?
Failure is a necessary evil. Of course I don’t like it, but the person who never fails is not challenging themselves and they are not learning anything new. End of story.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced while trying to maintain a career while living the military lifestyle?
In the 7 years that I’ve been married, I’ve lived in 6 places and had to change positions 5 times, including one stint as a stay-at-home mom. The bottom line is, it’s difficult to convince employers to hire you when they can see from your resume that you often move every 2 years, sometimes every year!
What is the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received? Tell us the worst too, while you’re at it.
Best: Always leave a legacy. Don’t just show up and do a job, instead leave your mark. You should always leave a department or position, better than you found it. Since I often only have a few years in a position, I take this advice to heart.
Worst: When we had just moved to Korea, I was at a “coffee” with some other military spouses and I was telling them how hard the job search was going. One of the wives said to me,
“why do you bother trying to find a job, it’s too hard on your family, you should just stay home. What does your husband think about it?”
I was a brand-new military spouse and I was left speechless. Seven years later, I would have a different response for her.
Who is in your support squad (i.e. spouse, neighbor, bff) and what role do they play in supporting your career?
Shout-out to my husband Phil for always being there for me and encouraging me to go out and do what I want, whether it’s been working, going to school or being a stay-at-home mom.
However, I also love the women I have met through the local chapter of In Gear Career, here in Colorado Springs. In Gear Career is a networking group of military spouses who are interested in professional development. Although I’m not job searching right now, I love that In Gear Career has helped me to polish my resume, interview and other job-seeking skills. Being a member has also helped to reignite my passion for helping other milspouses with their careers too!
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.
Do you and your spouse or partner split household tasks?
My husband and I pretty much split our household tasks both inside and outside. In 7 years of marriage we’ve naturally (with a few arguments here and there) just figured out what we each will do.
However, our secret is that we hired a cleaning service to come to our home twice a month. I’ve waffled back and forth for years on getting a cleaning service. It always made me feel guilty to think about someone else doing our work. Now that I have it, I’ll never go back. I love how clean and organized our home is and we don’t have to spend our weekends or free time cleaning…and no more arguments about who cleaned the bathroom last!
Share your best life-hack for saving time or sanity during the work week:
We treat ourselves to a meal delivery service twice a month and I love it! I don’t have to grocery shop, meal plan or prep food. When my toddler sees that the box is on our doorstep, he gets so excited because he loves to help me cook the meals. I get to try cooking and eating new things, it’s fresh and healthy, and we are able to spend time as a family cooking our dinner together.
Tell us one piece of tech you couldn’t live without that isn’t your phone:
The DVR feature on my TV. Some mornings, I have really early conference calls before my son goes to pre-school and sometimes him and I both just need 20 minutes of Paw Patrol to get us through my call!
What’s your favorite app for making the most of your day?
I love my Amazon Alexa app! It manages my alarms, music, new briefs, and to-do lists for me.
Must-have song on your productivity playlist?
“24k Magic” by Bruno Mars
If you had an extra hour in your day, what would you do with it?
I would spend extra time writing for my new blog, HerMoneyMoves.
If you were a superhero, what would be your super power?
It would be time travel. I have to travel for work every 6 to 8 weeks and the layovers and connections kill my day!