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: Karina Zimmerman
Years as a military spouse:
Tell us your job title/profession:
Academic Advisor at the University of South Florida – Tampa
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 but have the flexibility to work from home from time to time.
Tell us one thing you love about your job.
I love the interaction and the impact that I have on students pursuing their passions. It doesn’t seem like that long ago that I was in their position and I kept changing my mind. I didn’t really have an academic advisor to guide me through the process, so I’m lucky that I graduated in 4 years.
How did you get this position? Was it a resume, referral, job fair? Spill your magic.
Persistence, time and networking!
I had already applied about 7 times to USF for various experiences immediately after grad school and I was really limited to my options due to being based at MacDill. In the interim, I worked as an advisor at the local community college, which was an experience I had never had before.
Two years later, someone who graduated from my grad school program a few years before I did clued me in about the (job) posting. I worked really hard on my cover letter and was called in for an on campus interview not too long after.
My experience at the community college was invaluable and was ultimately what got me the job.
What is your No. 1 tip for a military spouse on the hunt for a job?
Keep going! Sometimes you have to think out of the box to figure out how to get experience for your career of choice, but it’ll work out for you in the end.
I remember feeling so down after applying and getting rejected, but I knew that I couldn’t settle since I had worked so hard to get my master’s degree in student affairs. I was determined to get back to the university community as a professional.
How do you feel about failure?
Failure hits you hard. It’s gross and unwelcome and terrible, but unfortunately it’s a facet of life we must learn to deal with. If you didn’t have failure, you wouldn’t be able to figure out what to change to ultimately get the right result.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced while trying to maintain a career while living the military lifestyle?
Being location bound is difficult for anyone in student affairs and higher education. Sometimes you luck out and get a military base/duty station that’s in a metropolitan area with plenty of colleges and universities to pick from.
Other times, you’re stuck with 2 schools that don’t have any positions in your specialty.
So again, you have creative. I remember in graduate school during my second year how I was one of the last people to get a job because I didn’t have the flexibility to look elsewhere.
What is the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received? Tell us the worst too, while you’re at it.
They’re actually one and the same.
“Know what you want.”
It sounds so simple. If you know what you want, you’re able to making the intentional and meaningful experiences to get to your final destination.
However, if you’re indecisive like me, it’s harder to figure out. I knew that I wanted to work at a university and make a positive impact on students’ lives; however, I was so overwhelmed with the choices that I opted to take the route of getting experience where I had none (like veterans affairs and conference marketing) rather than build off of the things I already knew I could do (orientation and student programming).
Who is in your support squad (i.e. spouse, neighbor, bff) and what role do they play in supporting your career?
My husband and my mom. My mom always supported me at every turn, even in college when I was all over the place.
I wanted to go to med school; she challenged me to figure out what that would look like.
I wanted to go into business; she provided me with job outlook statistics.
Even when I settled for student affairs, she helped review my personal statement for graduate school.
When I went to graduate school, my husband and I weren’t married yet, but he had already been in the military for a year and a half. Naturally, we were eager to be in the same place since we had been maintaining a long-distance relationship, but he supported me and encouraged me to go to the program I wanted to go to rather than pressure me into going to a school that was near his base.
I know I couldn’t be in the position I’m in without his support today.
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?
Sometimes we do. It’s unspoken and yet expected. Sometimes we’ll play the standoff game where we’ll leave something undone until the other person caves (dishes are the best example of this).
Share your best life-hack for saving time or sanity during the work week:
My husband is currently on unaccompanied orders overseas, so I have to work a little harder to get some alone time or to get chores done since my 1.5 year old gets really bad separation anxiety.
Thankfully, I have about an hour from the time I end my workday to go home and get some chores done before I have to pick my son up from daycare. It makes all the difference.
Tell us one piece of tech you couldn’t live without that isn’t your phone:
My Apple TV! I’m usually asleep by the time my shows actually come on that I have to catch up on another day.
Favorite app for making the most of your day?
My Clock app that wakes me up every morning? Haha all my other apps are complete time-burners.
Must-have song on your productivity playlist?
BO$$ – Fifth Harmony
If you had an extra hour in your day, what would you do with it?
Depends… is that hour free and by myself or at work or with my son? If I had complete freedom, I’d use it to sleep.
If you were a superhero, what would be your super power?
Teleport so I would be able to easily access my husband during deployments and not pay shipping charges for care packages.
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. Click here to complete our form.