Military Spouses Who Work It: Sarah Holley, Customer Insights & Category Management

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. 

Sarah Holley, Customer Insights & Category Management

Name: Sarah Holley

Years as a military spouse: 5

Tell us your job title/profession:

I work for organicgirl in customer insights & category management but I have experience in brand management and sales.

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

Full-time position

How long have you been working in this career field?

I’ve worked for organicgirl for 3 years, prior to this Smithfield Foods for 2 years in brand management after receiving my MBA from The College of William and Mary.

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

I work 1 day in the office 6 hours (roundtrip) and telecommute 4 days a week.

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

As soon as I heard my husband had written orders, I started researching companies in the area. I flew out (Virginia to California) for a career fair hosted by another company and networked while I was in town.

I met a marketing manager who shared my resume with a recruiter, who happened to be interviewing for my first role at organicgirl.

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

When and how to share with employers that I am a military spouse. During the interview process I interviewed with my current company and a competitor.

My current company found out that I was a military spouse and thought it was a feather in my cap, not an Achilles’ heel.

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The other company found out after extending me an offer and was less than excited. I encourage other (military) spouses to be honest but not to reveal too much. I also like to mention my time in past positions, to remind companies that I stay longer than the average candidate.

Tell us one thing you love about your job:

We are a fast-growing organic brand with a passion for what we do. My role changes almost every 6 months and I love it because I’m constantly growing my scope of work and seeing the impact I have on our brand.

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

Yes, we split household tasks and communicate communicate communicate! We will text, send outlook reminders and email constantly to make sure we are on the same page. I also am lucky to have a spouse who is just as supportive of my career as I am of his. When I needed to be out of town for a work conference, my spouse took leave.

A committed and supportive spouse is imperative.

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

I’m a new mom (son is just over 1 year), so communication is key. My husband does drop off and pick up when his schedule allows which lets me have some down time to prep dinner and decompress before we start dinner and bedtime for our son.

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

My phone and Bluetooth keep me connected

Favorite app for making the most of your day? Spotify

Must-have song on your productivity playlist?

Piano Ballads on Spotify when I’m under pressure

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

Be willing to beat the street. When I was in Virginia, I found my dream job…45 minutes away. So I had to decide to have my dream role and drive or stay at the current job. You can’t have it all if you want to have your dream job, no commute, get paid tons of money and have a flexible employer. Figure out what you want and be willing to compromise where you can.

And network with other military spouses. Be proud of what you do and when the time comes to relocate your career figure out a way to draft your role at your current company in a remote status or start sharing your resume with anyone in your network that can connect you to your next place of residence.

Finally, some duty stations aren’t career-friendly no matter how hard you try so do what you can to keep your skills in practice. Get involved in nonprofits or your FRG or spouses club so you can keep building those bullet points on your resume.

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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