“I Have Had to Reinvent Myself More Times Than I Can Count.”

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. 

Military Spouses Who Work It: Heather Aliano, Social Media Manager

Name: Heather Aliano

Years as a military spouse: I claim 10.4 years with a first husband and almost 6 years with my current husband.

Tell us your hustle (read: your job title):

I am the social media manager for National Military Family Association and also the proud owner of a hoppin’ blog (with a growing employee and contributor base) over at www.onlypassionatecuriosity.com (I specialize in educational printables for teachers and homeschoolers)

Is this full-time, part-time, hourly, contract or freelance work?

Full time on top of more full time

How long has this been your job?

NMFA for 6 months; Blogging for 4 years

Do you work in an office, telecommute from home (or Starbucks), or a little bit of both?

Mix of both. I’m in office 18 hours a week, the rest at home.

How did you get this position? Was it a resume, referral, job fair? Spill your magic.

I put together a non-traditional resume that did the trick, and I worked my contacts to find someone who knew someone to help get it to the top of the pile-then, I had everyone I knew tweet personal references at NMFA with the hashtag #HireHeather. It worked.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced while trying to maintain a career while living the military lifestyle?

I have had to reinvent myself more times than I can count. I was going to be a lawyer, and then I ended up switching to social science (to hopefully teach political science to high schoolers) and then I became a nurse, and then I taught art for a while, and switched to blogging, which taught me everything I know about social media and graphics design, which landed me back at NMFA with a job that is very close to my original goals of wanting to work in politics.

Go figure.

In the military, you have to be who you have to be. Sometimes, it means reworking the plan. Most of the time it means getting creative and not giving up.

It helps to be scrappy. I’m scrappy.

Tell us one thing you love about your job:

I am able to give back to the military community which has brought me so much joy and comfort during the darkest times of my life.

Share your best life-hack for saving time or sanity during the work week:

Find helpers. Never be afraid to pay someone to do jobs you don’t have the time or desire to do. Time is money, period.

My blog took off when I hired assistants. Working is possible despite my husband’s high tempo assignment because I have a caregiver who helps with the housework.

People often tell me they don’t know how I do it-and it’s because I DON’T do it. I have a lot of help and people in my corner, and I am not afraid to prioritize my time and walk away from things like dusting and cooking meals more complicated than a box of mac-n-cheese.

Basically be kind to yourself. You are never going to do it all, so let go of the guilt and do what you are good at.

Do you and your spouse or partner split household tasks? How do you do it?

My husband is the best kind of wife. Forget traditional roles, he cooks better than me, cleans more efficiently than me. The kids actually listen to him. He’s amazing.

Our family has come to the agreement that we have each other’s backs, and we forgive each other for sucking at the things we suck at. We are patient with each other. He cooks amazing meals. I organize all the schedules and keep everyone moving when they want to quit. We complement each other well.

And when he is TDY…it all falls apart, and he’s understanding when he comes home to kids addicted to granola bars and a house that is a hot mess.

If you have children, how do you and your spouse or partner split parenting responsibilities?

It’s just seamless. Again, we do what we are good at. I am good at kissing boo-boos and being patient when they do stupid things.

He is good at making sure everyone is in bed when they are supposed to and cutting baby fingernails. I am terrified of fingernails. Once, I cut off a bit of our newborn daughter’s pinky finger, so I am banned from that task.

Tell us one piece of tech you couldn’t live without:

My paper planner. Which is not tech, but paper is totally under-appreciated. Plus, I can’t stick Washi tape on a google calendar.

Favorite app for making the most of your day:

The reminder app. I have a million notes and alarms set.

Must-have song on your productivity playlist:

Lately, anything Bea Miller. That kid has it going.

What is your No. 1 tip for a military spouse on the hunt for a job?

Don’t give up, put yourself out there. Attend every event you can, with a smile on your face. Chat with people and tell them your story.

Are you a working military spouse? Do you want to share your career tips and tricks? Fill out the MilSpouses Who Work It Q&A today. 

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