Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Squashing Myths: Military Wives' Careers

One of my fellow (and one of my favorite) Coastie wives, Meagan, posted a really great blog post yesterday that got me thinking. The post is her take on being a military wife, the pros and the cons.  She touches on outsider's views and how their opinions are somewhat incorrect. No one truly knows what it's like to be a military wife, except for military wives. And I'm here to help spread the word and squash all of the myths see on social media sites and in the media.
The following post is a version of the (really long) comment I left on Meagan's blog yesterday.

I knew when I met my husband that he was active duty in the Coast Guard. I knew he moved around every few years. I knew that if I continued to date him and eventually marry him that I would also have to move around. I would leave my family and my friends, whom mean the entire world to me, to move around the country while my husband continues his career. I knew I was going to leave an incredible job that most people would literally die for. I left behind a family at that job, too. One that I still return to to catch up with and ask for advice.
But I did it because it felt right. Did I know if everything was going to peaches and cream? No. I had no idea. But I wasn't thinking about that. I knew what I wanted. And so, I trenched forward. I never looked back. I did it for love. It's true that love blinds you. I'm just really fortunate that this worked out in my favor, moving across the country while blind.

There was a lot of unknown when we submitted our first dream sheet, received our first set of orders to Florida, when I told said dream job that I was moving and told my family I was moving (probably the hardest of all things, there were A LOT of tears involved from all parties). I didn't know what to expect in Florida. I had never visited that side of the United States. I imagined beautiful beaches, which I totally got and took full advantage of. But I also got horrible weather and realllllly long plane rides back home to Oregon. Lonely nights which included many episodes of the real housewives and eating popcorn with Luna. There may or not have been a few glasses of wine, too. 
Throughout the entire process, I knew there was one thing I refused to give and that was my career. My degree and my resume were mine, a symbol of my hard work. We might move every two to four years, but in reality people switch jobs every two to four years anyways (when the economy sucks, not so much. But when things are on the up, this is pretty normal in "corporate" life).
I started applying for jobs in Florida a few months before we were scheduled to move and landed a pretty good gig. Was it as amazing as the job I had just left? Definitely not. But it looked damn good on my resume, and I learned a few things, too.
We received orders to Los Angeles about a year and half later. Again, I started applying for jobs a few months out.
I probably had 100 phone interviews, a few Skype interviews, eight in person interviews and two jobs offers. I landed an AMAZING job in LA. One that advances my career, challenges me and full fills me. One that I have found myself eating, breathing and sleeping more than any other job I have ever had. That says something, I think.
A lot of people think military wives stay home because they move around a lot and finding a job is difficult. I beg to differ. I am the perfect example as to why this is not true.
I do understand that it depends on the industry and it depends on your experience, etc. But I think that if you're perfect for a position, the company will hire you. It doesn't matter if you may move in a few years.
Throughout the process, I never had one person who looked down on me being a military wife. In fact, a lot of people thought it was really cool that I was such a go-getter. Other active duty members have also told me the same thing. 
 It takes A LOT of time and energy to job search and interview. You HAVE to be ready to dedicate your time to it. And you have to really want it. If you're going to half-ass the process, don't even try. You have to work a little harder and be ready to change jobs every few years. But you CAN do it! I've been doing it for almost 4 years and I plan to continue (until babies come, then I might reconsider;).

I am not a mom, however. And I think that being a stay at home mom is a career! And I have respect for all stay at home moms, especially those who are military moms. And I hope that one day I can have the option to stay at home with my kids, too. But honestly, I think military wives can have a career, too. If you want it.

We might move every few years, and most people see this as a con (and sometimes it is). But I also have friends all over the country who will be my friends for life. Friends that I would have never met if it weren't for the Coast Guard and I am incredibly thankful for that, for them. Most people don't have this. You can read all about how thankful I am for scary adventures
Cheers to all of the military wives out there, because career or not, we put up with some crazy ish!
Renee: I only chose this picture because of the boat in the background. I'd put you in this picture if I knew anything about photoshop :)

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