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: Meg Flanagan
Years as a military spouse:
Tell us your job title/profession:
Teacher, Freelance Writer, Blogger
Is this full-time, part-time, hourly, contract or freelance work?
It depends on the duty station and the opportunities
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?
A little bit of everything!
Tell us one thing you love about your job.
I love being able to shed light on the K-12 education process for military families.
Too often members of our community don’t know about free or low cost resources that can help them, like federal laws or tutoring programs.
How did you get this position? Was it a resume, referral, job fair? Spill your magic.
I created it out of a need I saw in the community.
I started as a tutor/homeschool teacher in California in 2010. I noticed that many of my military clients simply didn’t understand the special education system in particular and the K-12 education system in general.
When I moved to Virginia in 2012, I started a job as a full-time classroom teacher in a district with a mobile population. I saw the same issues there.
In 2015, after a move to California, I decided to act on what I had been seeing and start MilKids Ed, a blog dedicated to helping military families (and teachers of MilKids) navigate the K-12 education journey.
From there, I have picked up freelance writing work across several media outlets and contribute to a military child-focused charity as a writer.
It’s not super profitable unless I’m teaching full-time too. But it is a passion project!
Are you looking to connect with career-minded military spouses? Join one of In Gear Career’s 40 local chapters around the world. In Gear Career is a part of Hiring Our Heroes and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
What is your No. 1 tip for a military spouse on the hunt for a job?
For me, it was all about making that first connection. Once my foot was in the door at one freelancing job, it ended up leading to another and another.
Once you are in, stay connected and reach out to others. You never know when someone might be on the hunt for a person exactly like you!
How do you feel about failure?
I fail every single day. MilKids definitely doesn’t have the reach or clout I would like it to have at this point, but that’s OK. I’m still learning and growing as a person and as a writer.
My teaching career is on the backburner to help accommodate the military’s schedule and provide stability for our kids. It’s OK too! I’m still in the field, even if it’s in a different role.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced while trying to maintain a career while living the military lifestyle?
The flexibility and fluidity of jobs and careers have been the biggest adjustment.
I came into this having grown up with the mindset of “30 years teaching in a district, then retire.” So far, I think the longest I have ever taught in one school was 2 contract years. And half of one year was spent on maternity leave!
Not every duty station is going to work out for me career-wise the way I want it to. When we got to our current duty station, I had big dreams of getting back into the classroom full-time.
Instead, we’re having a second child and I’m focusing more on freelancing for a few years. In a way, being a military spouse has given me the opportunity to explore more and different ways of being employed and an asset to the community beyond the classroom.
If we didn’t live this life, I could be tied to that classroom job, and might not have started blogging and writing.
What is the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received? Tell us the worst too, while you’re at it.
Best: “Just see what happens.”
My mom has been drilling this into me lately as she sees me taking on too much (2 kids, full-time job, blogger, freelancer, etc.). She’s all about taking a step back and evaluating what is important right now in life.
Worst: “I made it work, so why can’t you?”
This or versions of this has been commented to me in several social media groups after I tried to advocate for easier/smoother license transitions for military spouses.
What works for one of us doesn’t work for all of us.
Just because one person’s particular journey in a career field has been smooth, doesn’t mean that everyone’s journey will be. It’s so important to stop judging each other and start helping.
Who is in your support squad and what role do they play in supporting your career?
My husband, Eric, supports me constantly. He has never pressured me to “get a job” and knows that making our family work is the most important thing right now.
My mom and dad, Chris and Tom, have always been there for me with sage advice and a reality check on my personal limits.
My large group of friends gives me advice, feedback and tips to help further my journey. It also helps that several of my friends are also in the writing and teaching fields!
Do you and your spouse or partner split household tasks?
It depends on the duty station, honestly!
If I am home more, then I shoulder more of the burden.
If I am working more or have more on my plate, we have hired someone to help. In the cost-benefit analysis, paying for help has both saved our sanity and given our family more flexibility to enjoy where we live!
Generally, I am the cook. Mostly because I love cooking and have severe food allergies. Plus, our family cannot live on PB&J sandwiches or pasta alone!
Share your best life-hack for saving time or sanity during the work week.
I have whiteboards, the peel and stick kind, all around my house. We have a meal planner and a grocery/to-buy list side-by-side on the fridge. There is a calendar one on the wall over the desk.
As I transition from full-time work to SAHM/freelance hustling, there will be another whiteboard with all of my writing to-do items. If it’s not on the whiteboard, it doesn’t get bought or it doesn’t happen.
Tell us one piece of tech you couldn’t live without that isn’t your phone.
MacBook Air. So much functionality and creation capabilities!
Favorite app for making the most of your day?
CNN so I know what is happening in the world right now.
Must-have song on your productivity playlist?
“Heart of Gold” by Neil Young
If you had an extra hour in your day, what would you do with it?
RUN! I’m a dedicated runner, and any extra time is spent on the road.
Running literally saved my sanity in 2014 during a bout with postpartum depression and I can’t imagine my life without it.
Just ask my husband what happens when I can’t get a solid run in for a few days. It is really not pretty!
If you were a superhero, what would be your super power?
I would be able to clone myself and designate chores or tasks to said clones. That way I would never have to fold and put away laundry ever again!
Enjoyed these insights into my wonderful daughter’s work life. Being so far away from each other, in competing time zones, makes deep communication a bit of a challenge. Even with the blessing of FaceTime, we’re balancing little kid chat with adult conversation.
I am continually amazed at how creative and productive Mil Spouses are, given the unique challenges of their lifestyles. You are inspirations!