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: Sarah Butler
Years as a military spouse:
Tell us your profession:
Third Grade Teacher – DoDEA School System
Is this full-time, part-time, hourly, contract or freelance work?
How long have you been working in this career field?
Tell us one thing you love about your job.
I love getting to make a difference in the lives of children and parents. There are few things sweeter than seeing the “light bulb” go off for students, and then celebrating their successes with both the students and their parents.
How did you get this position? Was it a resume, referral, job fair? Spill your magic.
I began by volunteering, while I was waiting for my substitute teaching paperwork to go through (the entire process took about six months). After I began substitute teaching, I was offered a long-term substitute teaching position, filling in for a teacher that as on maternity leave.
While I was in this position, I was contacted by another DoDEA school to come in for an interview and got the job!
Volunteering and substitute teaching were vital to getting into the system because I had the opportunity to understand the “ins-and-outs” of the DoDEA system, and become familiar with the current “buzz” words that I knew employers would be looking for.
What is your No. 1 tip for a military spouse on the hunt for a job?
Volunteer and be persistent. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to see what employers in your area are really looking for.
If your name and face are fresh in people’s minds, they are going to remember you when it comes time to hire.
How do you feel about failure?
Failure is vital.
I once had a boss tell me, after I had a major failure, “If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not doing anything worthwhile.” That has really stuck with me, even after all of these years. As long as you’re being both retro and introspective about your failures, they will ultimately become incredible learning opportunities.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced while trying to maintain a career while living the military lifestyle?
As an educator, it can be extremely difficult and disheartening to have to spend time and money taking recertification tests in various states. Reciprocity for military spouses who have special certifications etc. is something that is GREATLY lacking within the United States.
What is the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received? Tell us the worst too, while you’re at it.
The best advice I ever received was that “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” I think Sir Isaac Newton originally said this, but it is the ultimate reminder that to be better we have to constantly seek advice from a variety of people with different perspectives.
I’m sure I’ve gotten terrible advice along the way, but I gave it so little thought, that I can’t remember it now.
Who is in your support squad?
I couldn’t do ANY of what I do without my awesome support system.
My military friends have carried me through this lifestyle and stepped in COUNTLESS times when I had to work late and my husband was deployed or TDY. I have had girlfriends pick up my kids from school when they were sick and even attend back-to-school nights on my behalf, while I was playing my teacher role and needed someone to step in as my own child’s surrogate parent.
I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for the constant support and love of my military family.
Do you and your spouse or partner split household tasks?
Anytime my husband I move to a new duty station we sit down and discuss the pros and cons of me going back to work. There have been times in our marriage that we’ve made the decision that me being at home is better for us.
However, when I am working we sit down and have a lengthy discussion about what the expectations are for both of us. Obviously he can’t be around to split household tasks all of the time, so if he is getting ready to deploy or go on a TDY, I text him a list of things I want him to accomplish before he leaves; i.e. buy dog food, or sign us up for a monthly dog food delivery service if he’s going to be gone for an extended period of time (I don’t know why I hate buying dog food so much!?).
I leave him in charge of a HOME-COOKED dinner at least one week night. He gets to choose what night of the week works best for his schedule.
I also except all laundry baskets in our house to be cleared out and clothes to not only be washed and folded, but put away before he leaves for TDYs. It makes me feel like I’m starting with a clean slate.
Share your best life-hack for saving time or sanity during the work week.
Schedule one or two nights a week that you are doing something for yourself. Maybe that means a workout class or going out to eat instead of cooking. I schedule a massage once every two weeks.
Whatever your vice is; indulge on a semi-regular basis. Self-care is vital.
What’s your favorite app for making the most of your day?
The Bible app
Related: 8 Tips from Dual-Career Couples Who Are Making It Work
If you had an extra hour in your day, what would you do with it?
Read, read, read! (But that would also mean that I couldn’t be tired during that hour so I wouldn’t nod off)
If you were a superhero, what would be your super power?
Super coffee-consumer. That’s a super power right!??