“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucious
When I married my husband a little over a year ago, I never once considered that getting a job would be a problem. This was mostly because I fell head over heels for a man in uniform and wasn’t asking myself those questions, but also because I knew I had earned my Bachelor’s Degree years ago and had been employed ever since. My resume was rich with experience of numerous levels, I had networked my tail off in the Higher Ed world and truly (naively) thought it would be cake getting another job once we were married. Sure, we were moving to Italy and I didn’t really take into consideration how much that really limited my job search but hey, I had made a name for myself professionally once before, I could do it again – right?
Well, the truth is we’ve been in Italy for a year and I’ve been employed exactly one month during that time. It was a good job, somewhat in my field, but it wasn’t something I truly loved to do like I had before we were married. I felt like I had sacrificed and gave up so much to be with my husband; I didn’t want to have a job I loathed, too. My father taught me very little growing up, but one phrase he told me long ago rings in my ear to this very day: If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. I thought about this all throughout college as I was earning my Bachelor’s Degree in Communications/Journalism and wondered: Would I really love being a journalist? I pictured myself in oversized glasses and a fedora with a newspaper and the answer was a very strong no. After getting involved with Residence Life during college though, I realized this was my true calling. It got to a point where I was majoring in being a Resident Assistant and did all that Communications/Journalism stuff on the side. This paid off for me, though – I quickly networked throughout my campus, met some amazing people I still keep in touch with today, was offered a job right out of college, and the blessings list goes on and on. Before getting married I had a great job working as a Resident Director in New York that I honest to God loved waking up for in the morning. This is a feeling I am not willing to sacrifice for a paycheck.
After a year of unemployment however, I’ve realized that sometimes – a lot of the time – a job is more than a paycheck. It’s where you meet friends, network, where you are (hopefully) appreciated; it’s something that gives you purpose or worth; especially if you don’t have children like me. I was only in Italy a few months until I realized that my dream job may not be here, but that didn’t mean there was nothing I could do to better myself professionally. I took my first graduate class in May of 2011 and haven’t looked back since. I was accepted into the School Counseling program at UMUCEurope after taking two classes and my third starts next week. I absolutely love learning, especially at this level and about these topics, and while it may not be exactly how I pictured grad school – it is something that occupies my time, keeps me thinking, and can explain the employment gap on my resume.
The Air Force has decided to no longer fund the Spouse Tuition Assistance Program (STAP) which means my classes just got a whole lot more expensive. While I would love to throw the ultimate tantrum and kick and scream about how it’s not fair; there is no time for that. I want to have my Master’s complete by the time we leave Italy in 2014 and like it or not, I need to find other financial means stat. After tweeting to just about every Air Force/military/spouse profile there is, I was directed to a great Spouse Career & Education site hosted by Military One Source. As well as empowering spouses to earn their degree and pursue their dream career, they do the same for our active duty members as well, which I thought was great. After only a year in this military life I have talked to so many young members who seem to think that because they served in the US military, they’re set for life professionally. Realistically, this is not the case. While their service is appreciated in the civilian world, a college education is almost always required for most professions today.
Thankfully our active duty members are able to earn their degree for free* and spouses often get assistance with tuition as well. In the short time I’ve been a milspouse, it’s become painfully apparent to me that with the hustle and bustle of this lifestyle, I need to remain true to myself and my goals as much as feasibly possible. I love working with students and growing professionally in the Education field, so if I were doing anything else I may become bitter or even resent the choice of entering this military life all together. It has been entirely too common to see military spouses mold their lives around their service member, but at some point we as predominantly women (roar!) should take a step back and evaluate what we are doing just for ourselves. Is it a class you’ve been dying to take? A job fair you’ve let come and go one too many times? A craft or idea you’ve wanted to mold into your own business? God knows you have supported your spouse in their endeavors, why not do the same for yourself? I’m behind you 110%. You go, girl!
Have any of you had the same experience with adjusting to the military world after having a career? Who of you are in school now? Share your stories below! Until next time – ciao!
*For more information on earning your degree for free, check out these articles on Earn My Degree and Military.com, or speak with your Education Center on base. As military spouses we have so many resources to further our education or expand our professional experience – don’t be shy about asking Family Readiness (or your version of it) today!