April Military Spouse Volunteer of the Month

In Gear Career is able to provide our services In Gear Career - military spouse Volunteer of the Monthbecause of wonderful Military Spouses who understand what it means to serve. Many people contribute to our collective success, but this month we would like to recognize Christina Overstreet for her work in shaping our forthcoming Federal Employment Toolkit.

Christina has volunteered her expertise to provide invaluable feedback on the Federal Employment Toolkit we are developing for our members. She is helping us bring clarity to the confusing process of applying for Federal employment and we look forward to sharing her hard work with you in the coming months. Stay tuned!

Christina Overstreet - military spouse Volunteer of the Month - In Gear Career

Christina has never balked when faced with a challenge. Recently, that has meant squeezing many things into a 24-hour day – completing a master’s degree while employed full-time and raising two children under the age of five, being active in her community, and spending quality time with Randy, her active-duty husband.

She fell in love with Randy, who is currently serving in the Army, while he was a cadet at West Point. They pursued a long-distance relationship while she attended the University of Virginia, where she majored in psychology, planning to pursue a career with the FBI as a forensic psychologist. After graduating, Christina and Randy moved to his first duty station at Fort Bragg, where she worked various jobs early in their marriage, trying to continue her education and get on the right career path. She quickly realized the challenges military spouses face when trying to maintain a successful professional career, particularly in the months after 9/11, and her husband’s two deployments.

She volunteered actively from the beginning, serving in a FRG Leader role many times and through multiple deployments. This volunteer experience eventually led her to pursue a five-year career in Army Family Programs as a government contractor. During her tenure as a contractor, she began to experience the frustrations of trying to attain a federal position, as she was passed over for numerous federal positions for which she had been urged to apply. She became convinced the federal hiring process was broken, particularly after finding she was more qualified than some of the individuals who were hired. She continued to pursue federal employment and when she and her husband relocated to West Point, she was selected for one of the positions she had been coveting. Since then, it has been her personal mission to help other military spouses in their efforts to attain federal employment.

Christina completed her master’s degree in human resources in December 2012, and is currently pursuing certifications to become a professional career coach and professional resume writer. She recently took charge of the Family Member Employment Program at West Point, where she is in the place she most wants to be right now: working to help military spouses achieve their employment goals.

March Volunteer of the Month

In Gear Career is able to provide our services because of wonderful Military Spouses who understand what it means  to serve.  Many people contribute to our collective success, but this month we would like to recognize Jill Warning for her work leading the Sigonella Local Chapter.


Jill recently started the Sigonella chapter of In Gear Career with a core group of Sigonellans -Jennifer Simpson, Jessica Lewarne, Marta CcClintock, and Elizabeth Osborn have been working toward launching this chapter for over a year and are essential to the local chapter success.  Jill’s team is about pushing the boundaries of what a military spouse can achieve while at an overseas location.  Everyone on the IGC Sigonella team is working to empower local spouses to identify, pursue, and create opportunities for career development.  We appreciate her initiative and innovative ideas.


Always determined to have a romantic life, Jill sought adventure early on in her career and interspersed travel, work, and Capitol Hill internships into her gap years between undergraduate and professional degrees.  She met her Navy husband, David, in law school and they began their marriage at his first duty station in Bremerton, Washington in 2009.  Jill is a member of the Wisconsin and Washington State Bar Associations; in Washington she pursued food justice work by writing for a food law website, sitting on the board of directors of a local agricultural non-profit, and performing contracted legal consulting for the state.  She quickly learned what deployment means for military spouses when Dave deployed to Afghanistan in late 2011.  During this time in Washington state, Jill also learned about the difficulties facing military spouses seeking employment – the questions about why she is in the area, the barely veiled questions about how long she planned to stick around, and what about her family?  Following Dave’s return from Afghanistan, she moved with him to Sigonella, Italy where she joined the Wittenberg Weiner Consulting team on a contract at NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center headquarters.  Jill draws on her education and work experiences to put her analytical skills, emotional intelligence, and ingenuity to the test of supporting the Supply Management Department in her contracted position.  She enjoys volunteering, exploring food and drink, training for runs (and most often the runs themselves), hiking, dabbling in the arts, and traveling.

In Gear Career Welcomes New Board Members

In Gear Career is pleased to welcome new Board members Mike Darling and Major General Michael Jones, U.S. Army Retired.


General Jones is an independent business consultant residing in Tampa, FL, and a member of The SPECTRUM Group, an Alexandria, VA, based consulting company.   His clients include a variety of businesses and government organizations including energy, medical, radio-geophysics, and armored vehicle component companies, as well as state organizations in Virginia and Florida.  He served over 34 years in the United States Army in a wide variety of command and staff positions in the United States, Europe, and Middle East.  His service included tours as a Deputy Director for Strategic Plans and Policy in the Pentagon, the Director of Operations and then Chief of Staff of U.S. Central Command, and two combat tours in Iraq and one tour to Bosnia.  He has a Master of Science degree in Systems Management from the University of Southern California.  He is married to Patricia Jones, a systems analyst for DST Systems Inc.


Mike Darling is a Military Spouse and works as a program examiner at the Office of Management andBudget (OMB) Homeland Security Branch.  He was also detailed to work in the office of the Deputy Secretary of State for Management as an advisor to the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review.  Previously, Mike was a Senior Management Consultant at Wittenberg Weiner Consulting working on Navy security operations in Europe and the Middle East.  Mike served on active duty with the Marine Corps in a variety of leadership assignments and continues to serve in the Marine Corps Reserve, most recently mobilized to U.S. Forces Afghanistan.  He is a graduate of Wayne State College, Nebraska, and earned his Master’s degree at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).  He is married to Lieutenant Commander Julie Darling, a U.S. Navy Nurse Corps officer.




February Military Spouse Volunteer of the Month

In Gear Career is able to provide our services because of wonderful Military Spouses who understand what it means  to serve.  Many people contribute to our collective success, but this month we would like to recognize Laura Burt for her work editing the content for our website.  She graciously offered to read and proof the articles on our website for errors.   Ensuring our material is error free helps establish our credibility and communicate more effectively.  She spent a considerable amount of time helping us and we can’t thank her enough.



Laura has been an Army wife for almost 11 years. Along the way she earned a Bachelors in English and a Certificate in Editing, and really enjoys volunteering to produce quality written materials for military service organizations. Her passions often combine in incredible ways: her previous job was as a writer and editor for the Casualty and Mortuary Affairs Command, creating Letters of Condolence for families of Fallen Soldiers. Every day was emotionally challenging but immensely rewarding, and her team of researchers and writers were dedicated to honoring the memory of each Soldier’s life by providing families with this one simple–but deeply meaningful–letter. In her spare time, she assisted Wounded Warriors from Ft. Knox by facilitating hippotherapy (horseback) treatment at a local stable. Now, she serves the Joint Base Lewis-McChord community by providing access control to the installation. Interacting with Soldiers, Airmen, Reserve, Retirees, and Family members every day reminds her of the incredible community we in the Armed Forces share. She is proud and blessed to be included in this extended family.

Don’t Wait to Find a Mentor

One of the main reasons we started In Gear Career was to connect military spouses with other professionals in their fields- to create mentorship and sponsorship relationships to enable you to succeed in pursuing a professional career.


As a career minded military spouse, it is imperative that you have a mentor.  Why?  As you move from duty station to duty station, you will come across unique career challenges.  A mentor is someone who believes in you and wants you to succeed.  They are typically more senior, have experience in your career field, and are willing to help you.  He or she is a trusted ally that can provide critical feedback, encouragement, and wisdom in your decision making process.  Having a mentor can elevate your professional capabilities exponentially.


Who should be my mentor?


Your mentor doesn’t have to be a military spouse, although it would be helpful to have someone fielding your career development questions who understands the military community and the challenges you face.  Ideally, your mentor is someone with significant experience in your chosen career field.  You should admire him or her and have a natural connection when speaking with that person.


How do I find a mentor?


If you are working, your company leadership may be a great place to start.  Barring that, networking with other professionals is a way to connect with possible mentors.  One way to do this is through forums, like InGear, or your professional associations.  If you are not working, you need to join your professional association to begin meeting others in your field – doing so, will also improve your chances of getting a job, because a mentor can also become a sponsor.


The Art of the Ask


The key to forging a mentor relationship is to be open to opportunities. When you feel a natural connection with someone, just ask for help. Tell them how much you admire what they have accomplished, their work style, or (fill in the blank) and would love to meet for coffee and learn more about their career path.  For the most part people enjoy sharing their experiences and helping others.   You have nothing to lose by asking.  If they say no it’s likely because they are simply too busy and they may be able to suggest someone else.


What should the relationship look like?


Once a connection is established, ask if they would be willing to get together on a regular basis. From there, you need to ensure the relationship is mutually rewarding. Some things to keep in mind:

·      Respect their time: Suggest meeting once a month, but always ask how often they can get together.  Adjust your schedule to accommodate them.  Everyone’s time is valuable, but you need to show that you value theirs by limiting engagements to appropriate lengths.

·     Consider reciprocity: Don’t just “pick” their brain. Think about what you can offer them that will add to their brain-power!  Some mentors get a reward from a creative exchange and will appreciate reverse mentorship.  Do some research ahead of time to add to the conversation rather than just asking away.  What can you teach them about social media, the latest in pop culture or how to motivate 20-somethings in the workplace? Recommend articles that may be of interest to them that they may not be in their line of sight.