Military Spouses Who Work It: Dawn Smith, Freelance Writer

Editor’s Note: Give us your lawyers, your accountants, your massage therapists. Give use your teachers, your engineers, your real estate agents.

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- Dawn Smith, Freelance Writer

Name: Dawn Smith

Years as a military spouse: 17!

Your job title/profession: Freelance Writer

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

Freelance work

How long have you been working in this career field?

Nearly 5 years

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

At home, pulling a 9-week-old golden retriever puppy off computer cords from under my desk.

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

PCS desperation.

We had a pending move to Washington, D.C., and I was terrified about making the wrong decisions for school, commute and neighborhood selections.

I stumbled on Military Town Advisor. The site’s creator, Cameron, a Navy spouse, had a fantastic PCS guide for the greater D.C. area. I memorized every little detail. I was so grateful for the information I found there that I volunteered to write a few blog entries about things to do in military towns.

After after arriving in D.C. I let Cameron know I was looking for more writing work and she sent me over to MilitaryByOwner. I recently celebrated one year freelancing for them and it’s been at great fit for me.

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


Sometimes we face challenges that are just a little bit different than most working people. This isn’t an excuse to produce poor quality work, but flexibility is hard to come by in traditional career paths.

Tell us one thing you love about your job.


As military families, we are all doing the military shuffle as fast as we can. Everyone understands and appreciates the last-minute orders or the stresses of a PCS. The list is endless, but we all get it.

I enjoy writing to alleviate worries or at least supply a lot of interesting and useful information to guide military families.

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

I know technology is many people’s best friend, but I need a visual cue each day (even weeks before) for planning. I use an old school desk calendar with huge squares for due dates and deadlines. Color-coded Sharpie entries make everything click for me.

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

Right now we are working the geographically separated scenario for the next year.

So every military spouse knows the the answer already: I just do it.

Sometimes the house isn’t as clean as it could be, or dinner isn’t as healthy as I would like, but we all seem balanced and happy.

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

Lately, I lead the way just due to my husband’s availability but he is all dad when he is home for a few days at a time.

Normally he does a great job of supporting me because I am the stay-at-home parent, but he is also very involved and hates to be left out of decisions.

Sometimes I have to remember to let him do some of the life work that needs to be done when raising a daughter.

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

I work so much better in a traditional setting. An antique desk and a desktop computer work brilliantly for me.

Favorite app for making the most of your day?

D.C. traffic. Ugh. Many combos of Google maps and Waze for traffic help.

Must-have song on your productivity playlist:

Brave by Sara Bareilles. Lots of life lessons in that song.

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

There is so much available! For free even. Just spend an hour online searching for military spouse jobs or careers. It’s amazing the resources available.

I recently wrote an article that describes a great strategy, but it’s a no-brainer to begin at Spouse Education Career Opportunities (SECO). The leads are endless. Even after all of these years, I didn’t know so many options were out there.

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.



  1. Since I don’t see an option here to fill out the Q&A mentioned and my path is fairly similar to Dawn’s, I’ll just add my two cents here! 🙂

    I’m also a freelancer, and I’d also blame PCS desperation on my working online from home situation. I gave up a good, salaried job when my husband and I eloped two years ago and we moved to Germany. I tried working at places like the bank on post, Starbucks, the CDC, and a place in the food court. Nothing was a good fit for me and I was extremely unhappy in each position. I didn’t last long in any of them due to this unhappiness and I was frustrated my bachelor’s degree meant less here than it did in the States! I missed my office job which I truly loved. So I turned to Google and searched for work from home opportunities. I stumbled upon Upwork and my employment took off from there.

    I mainly do transcription and some voice overs (thanks to my background in acting) and I absolutely love it. The “environment” (even if it’s online) is must like the desk job I’d become accustomed to, it’s completely flexible, I can create my own rates, working hours, and choose my own clients, and I get paid weekly! I’m so happy my persistence paid off and I was able to make something of a disheartening situation when I learned how hard it was to find a job overseas that I would willingly and proudly put on my resume and which would help further my career and job search when I get back to the States instead of something like “cash register attendant.” While that’s great for some, it just wasn’t right for me and I’m happy to be able to create my own work online. …But I still can’t wait to hit US soil and start job hunting again – I miss having coworkers. ;P

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