It’s another typical day as a spouse of a service member. Get the kids to school, check. Finish daily errands, check. Dishwasher unloaded, reloaded, homework checked, scraped knee bandaged, check.

Now it’s time to work. Yes, I said it. The W-word. You know, the one you get paid to do.

I never knew how difficult it would be to find a job and work as a military spouse. When I think about my dreams and aspirations as a young woman, I consider how I dreamed of climbing the corporate ladder with a successful career. 

My dreams took a back seat the day I decided to marry my Marine and new dreams were laid in its place: please let my husband come home unharmed; please let our children grow positively in this military environment; please let our relationship thrive in his absence.

It’s been difficult to discover a career that would meet my needs as a military spouse. It was nearly impossible to find a job that would allow me to stay at home with my young children and survive my PCS moves.

Many spouses have the same challenge and been successful with home retail jobs like Scentsy, Pampered Chef, and others.

However, the direct sales field wasn’t appealing to me and almost all telecommuting positions had been slashed with the downsizing of the economy.  I needed to do something else, except I didn’t know what that was.

I ended up taking a job volunteering. This allowed me the opportunity to get to know other spouses in our military world, make a positive impact in our community, and enjoy some adult conversation.

I discovered that some volunteer positions on base provided reimbursement for child-care costs, so it was a great way to do some good and get a break from the kids without diminishing our financial bottom line.

We moved across the states a couple times and ended up in the middle of the desert: Twentynine Palms, California. This was definitely not the place to start looking for work, so once again I was left pondering options.

I decided to go back to school and get my master’s degree. My thought process led me to believe that by the time we moved to our next duty station, I would be ready to enter the work force with my newly completed education.

Enter next duty station: Orange County at Camp Pendleton. I was positive I could find a job here, so I started putting applications out. Everywhere.

And I heard the sound of crickets. Why was it so difficult to find a job as a spouse? It was pretty obvious that I was married to a Marine since I listed my volunteer experience on my resume so it didn’t look like I took a five-year hiatus.

I often wonder if that was the reason recruiters never picked up their phones? I do know that we’re not alone in our struggle.

The Army will be downsizing by more than 70,000 and the Marine Corps by more than 20,000 in the next five years. Veterans are having a hard time finding work as well.

I decided it was up to me to make my own job. So I started writing. I thought if I write enough, then maybe someone will find me and end up hiring me.

I had created a website to help other military families and decided to start blogging and really putting effort in to see what would happen. A year and a half of continued focus opened up a number of doors for me.

I discovered that it was the perfect combination of having a voice, utilizing what I learned volunteering, and voicing my successes and failures as a military spouse that created the perfect career path for me. It was very much unexpected, but very satisfying.

If you’re like me and struggling to find work, there are some great job boards where corporations have stepped up to hire veterans and spouses.

If that doesn’t sound appealing to you, or you haven’t found the right career opportunity, I want to suggest two things to you: volunteer with something you care about and write or do what you know. You’ll never know what opportunities will be presented to you.

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