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: Erica Monteith
Years as a military spouse:
Tell us your job title/profession:
My current job title is Senior Director, Media Strategy for a medium-sized agency in Washington, D.C. I am an advertising professional who works with corporate, nonprofit and political clients to reach their target audience through digital and traditional media.
I lead a team of 12 up and coming rock stars who keep me on my toes. I have worked in advertising for the past 8+ years and love the work I do. The industry is constantly evolving and innovating, making my day-to-day work challenging and exciting.
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?
Our main office is located in Washington, D.C.; where we are currently stationed. I have been able to work out of that office for the past 3 years. I occasionally telecommute if something needs to be done at the house or we are traveling during a busy time at work.
Tell us one thing you love about your job.
There are so many things I love about my current role, that it’s hard to just pick one, but at the end of the day it’s the people. I love the people I work with, they are an incredibly talented, innovative, hardworking and are truly like family. It’s a work hard and play hard environment. Everyone is constantly trying to push the bounds of the industry and help our clients achieve their goals. People are more concerned with team work and helping our clients than anything else, it can be very inspiring.
How did you get this position? Was it a resume, referral, job fair? Spill your magic.
When we first moved to D.C. 3 years ago, I was telecommuting for my agency back in Denver. After about a year I started my job search again, using sites like LinkedIn, Glassdoor and Indeed. I came across a posting that hooked me up with a recruiter for my current company. I interviewed with them the next week, unfortunately I did not get that role. However, 6 months later I got a call from the same recruiter for another position with the same company. Went in for another round of interviews and got the job about 2 weeks later!
What is your No. 1 tip for a military spouse on the hunt for a job?
Stay positive! I know it can be hard at times, when you have sent out a ton of resumes, or gone to networking event after networking event, but I promise you eventually will get a job you love and are passionate about. The key is to stay positive and after each rejection letter, or missed interview, to not let it derail your spirit or your search. It will happen eventually, it just may take time.
How do you feel about failure?
I don’t believe in failure. I believe that every “failure” is just a lesson in how to not do something. I think it’s important to not view it negativity because it can derail you if you let it. I choose to view it as a lesson to learn from and grow. I believe that without failure we will never truly grow to our full potentials.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced while trying to maintain a career while living the military lifestyle?
Figuring out how to balance both careers.
My father is also in the military so I thought I knew what it would be like marrying a military member and what to expect career wise, but that has not been the case.
It is hard when he gets an assignment he is excited about but I love my job and there is not an option for telecommuniting long term. The hardest part is staying positive and knowing that I may not be able to move with him every time if I want to continue to progress in my career but that we will always find a way to make it work for both of us. It just may not be a traditional solution! Luckily we talked about this a ton before we got married allowing us to both approach our careers from the same page and on the same team.
What is the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received? Tell us the worst too, while you’re at it.
The best advice I received was to “never give up.” When I first returned from the Peace Corps the economy was in a recession and I took a position as a recruiter but my dream was to work in marketing. It took me a year to find a job but a mentor told me to “never give up!”, which I needed to hear. There were times when it wasn’t easy, I filled out more than 200+ applications, received more rejections than I can count and met with more than 20+ contacts. However, I refused to search for a job outside of marketing and it ended up paying off. I eventually landed a job with a top agency in Denver that started my career!
The worst advice was when a recruiter told me a master’s degree doesn’t matter to advertising agencies. While that may be the case for some, it is not for all and many companies value higher degrees. And at the end of the day it was something that was important for me to continue to grow as a leader in my career. I have met amazing people, traveled the world for class and expanded my knowledge base within my field. It may not matter to all companies but the ones I want to work for in the future will value it.
Who is in your support squad (i.e. spouse, neighbor, bff) and what role do they play in supporting your career?
Husband is my main support and champion, when I’m having a bad day or worried about our next move he is always their to calm my nerves and remind me everything will be all right.
My parents especially since my dad has been in the military for 25+ years. They help ground me and give me perspective. My dad still helps format my resumes and cover letters at times.
My friends from work who help me step outside the military bubble sometimes and give me a different perspective.
Finally my former boss at my first agency. He has been an incredible mentor and advocate as I have grown in my career. I can always bounce ideas off of him or ask him for advice. I think it’s important to have multiple people in your squad who perform different supportive tasks for you and your life. It takes a village!
Do you and your spouse or partner split household tasks?
We do! It’s really nice, because most of the things I don’t like doing he enjoys and vice versus. So if I cook, he cleans. I hate to unload the dishwasher and he hates to load it. So it actually works out nicely. But at the end of the day if something doesn’t get done or is left for a couple of days, whoever has the time just jumps in to do it.
It can be tough some weeks when we work late or have big projects to finish but we have learned to just accept that sometimes our house will be a disaster and sometimes we may skip an event to sit at home and do nothing but those are the best times. At the end of the day we are a team in all aspects of life.
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.
Share your best life-hack for saving time or sanity during the work week:
My husband and I both work long hours so sometimes things at home do not get done or they get done days after they should. Our biggest hack has been getting a house cleaner. We used to do it together on Sundays but realized that we were spending time cleaning instead of going out and enjoying the city and each other. We shifted our budget and priorities to make that possible and now have more time to explore D.C. and have fun!
What’s your favorite app for making the most of your day?
Standup. It basically reminds me to standup and walk around. Which is not only good for my health but also for my productivity. I can get caught up in emails at times and forget to check on my team or miss a meeting. So this is a gentle reminder to standup take a break and go check projects and on the team at large!
Must-have song on your productivity playlist?
Timber by Pitbull featuring Kesha, actually anything by Kesha or Lady Gaga
If you had an extra hour in your day, what would you do with it?
I would take a nap! I run full tilt all day long and if I had an extra hour I would snuggle with my husband and my dog to keep my energy up.
If you were a superhero, what would be your super power?
Being the smartest person in the world; allowing me to solve the worlds problems, help move society forward, and resolve the age old question of why socks disappear in the dryer!