“You’re Constantly Balancing Home And Work Because You Can’t Tag Team With Your Spouse While They Are Physically Unavailable.”

Traci McCombs, a management analyst, said the work-life balance of a military spouse is always challenging.


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.
Traci McCombs, a management analyst, said the work-life balance of a military spouse is always challenging.

Name: Traci McCombs

Years as a military spouse:


Tell us your job title/profession:

I am a management analyst at the National Institutes of Health.

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


How long have you been working in this career field?

4 years

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

Work from home

Tell us one thing you love about your job.

I get to work on unique projects that support the NIH Office of Human Resources mission to recruit and retain a highly skilled and diverse workforce.

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

My husband and I were fortunate enough to be stationed in D.C. for 4 years. The longevity of his fellowship assignment allowed me time to obtain a MBA from American University. Through a network of college friends I applied for an intern position at the NIH that grew into the full-time GS position I hold today.

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

Know your strengths and don’t be afraid of self advocacy.

How do you feel about failure?

I feel failure can only hurt you if you refuse to acknowledge it and learn from it. It’s a great opportunity to trust in God’s plan.

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

The work-life balance of a military spouse is always challenging. I would say having a deployed husband with a newborn baby was a true test. You’re constantly balancing home and work because you can’t tag team with your spouse while they are physically unavailable.

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What is the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received? Tell us the worst too, while you’re at it.

The best career advice I ever received was from a book. I really enjoyed reading Stephen R. Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” It applies to all aspects of life.

I heard once to be dishonest on a resume about the length of certain jobs you held. I think any type of dishonesty on a resume or in an interview is a bad start to any career.

Who is in your support squad and what role do they play in supporting your career?

My husband motivates and encourages me to pursue my career goals. He is good at lifting my spirits when I face a challenge. My best friend is very successful in the private sector so I always go to her for ideas and motivation. She gets my creative juices flowing. I go to my mom when I just need someone to listen to me complain. (Moms are amazing!)

Do you and your spouse or partner split household tasks?

That is an ever evolving dynamic. We are in limbo between homes and we are learning how to be a family of 3 instead of 2. In a few months I am sure my answer will change again. The key is that we both do what we can when we can. There is no score.

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

I have a unique situation working from home. I try to be organized and active throughout the day. I try not to sit or stand at my desk for more than 45 to 60 minutes without a break. To keep my mind active I might grab a healthy snack, put in a load of laundry or unload the dishwasher. These quick 5- to 10-minute breaks help me decompress and regroup.

Tell us one piece of tech you couldn’t live without that isn’t your phone:

Baby monitor!

What’s your favorite app for making the most of your day?

Nike Run App

Must-have song on your productivity playlist?

I honestly enjoy playing Enya or David Lanz during my workday.

If you had an extra hour in your day, what would you do with it?

Devote more time to updating my blog Road2Motherhood or write more.

If you were a superhero, what would be your super power?

The ability to function with no sleep. I could get so much more done!

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. 



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