In Gear Career for Military Spouses to Share Professional Development and Networking Expertise at 2013 AUSA Expo

For entrepreneurial military spouses, running a business provides the opportunity to have a professional career in spite of the challenges they face living the military lifestyle. Thirteen successful military spouse small business professionals will have an opportunity to showcase their businesses at next week’s Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting & Expo in Washington, D.C., thanks to the Military Spouse CEO Experience.

“We’re thrilled that talented military spouse entrepreneurs will be featured at the Expo’s Military Spouse CEO Experience Pavilion. In Gear Career is excited to help these talented professionals network effectively with the many attendees and fellow exhibitors at this year’s event. It’s a great opportunity for these military spouse professionals to showcase the value their businesses bring to the marketplace,” said Executive Director Amanda Patterson Crowe.

To help these entrepreneurs maximize the opportunities to build their businesses, In Gear Career will provide them with hands on strategic networking coaching throughout the expo. These businesses represent a wide variety of industries and target markets, so the coaching will be customized to meet the needs of each company, their business models, and individual goals for the expo.

“In Gear Career provides free professional development resources and networking opportunities to military spouse job seekers through more than 15 local chapters across the country. We’re excited to offer our expertise and mentor these dynamic and talented business leaders,” Crowe explained.

This is the inaugural year for the Military Spouse CEO Experience, which is the brainchild of military spouse professionals Adrianna Domingos-Lupher of MSB New Media, Lori L. Volkman of Trajectory Communications, and Wendy Poling of My Military Life Radio, and underwritten by Armed Forces Insurance, MetLife, UPS and the Virginian Suites of Arlington.

This year’s businesses participating in the Military Spouse CEO Experience Pavilion:

• Christina Bell Landry, Dumbell Fitness
• Jessica Bertsch, Power House Planning
• El Brown, Kinderjam
• Stephanie Brown, The Rosie Network
• Lori Churchill, Lock n Load Java
• Kellie Dudley, R. Riveter
• Marijke Landon, Nomadés Collection
• Ginger Miller, Women Veterans Interactive
• Stephen Peters, The American Military Partners Association
• Jennifer Pilcher, Military One Click
• Bridget Platt, Daddy’s Deployed
• Lee Platt, Avening Management & Technical Services
• Ashley Thompson, Smash Creative Services

January…Nobody’s Favorite Month!

As we pack away the Christmas decorations, get started on those New Year resolutions, and wonder how 2012 could possible have disappeared so fast…it is important to remember that January can be a hard month for many within the Military community. December usually keeps us busy. I for one had a much more impressive social calendar during December than I normally do. The excitement of the holidays, the break from work, the visits with family, the overflowing mailbox, the regular social events and of course the food! But January – my calendar is looking a little blank, and this is a bit depressing after the hustle and bustle of December.

January can be a particularly tough month on those Military Spouses who are seeking meaningful employment. I remember back to the end of 2010 when I was between jobs over the New Year period. Something about dates on resumes, or perhaps years on the chalk board of my life, made me feel a little more down than usual about my lack of employment. As January arrived, I was no longer pre-occupied with the busyness of December, and so the job gap in my life seemed more of a gaping hole than it had felt the previous month. Perhaps the idea of New Year’s Resolutions seemed pointless when I so desperately wanted a job, or perhaps I just felt despondent and thought I could never find a position in the following year that I loved as much as the one I had resigned from.

In my experience, Military Spouses seeking employment go one of two ways in January – they approach their job search with a renewed vigor…or they start to give up. As the New Year begins, it is easy to start thinking that the next PCS is not that far away, that it would be better to cherish the time with friends and family you will be moving away from in the next year, or that the heartbreak of applying over and over again is just getting too much.

So as we approach January and I think of some of my job seeking Military Spouse friends – a supply chain wizard in El Paso with the ability to inspire and energize every workplace she has been part of, a Media and Communications specialist in Hawaii with a list of tangible accomplishments I can only dream of being able to add to my resume, and an engaging HR Manager in Montgomery, Alabama that I met online through In Gear Career, I want to say “Don’t give up!”. Every career-minded Military Spouse out there knows how tough it can be to leave a job because of a PCS or a marriage into the military. Most career-minded Military Spouses can also relate to the struggle to find an equivalent job in the next location. There will always be particularly tough geographic areas, or job interviews which don’t go your way and leave you wondering if your Military Spouse status was a behind the scenes reason.

These are the three best pieces of advice I have been given over the years on how to “Stay Strong when the Job Hunt is Long”.

1. Make a weekly job hunt schedule. It is easy to start the job search campaign enthusiastically but if it takes a while, it is also easy to start falling off the pace. Make a weekly schedule which addresses all aspects of the job search, such as allocating time to research companies, time to make direct approaches to employers in person, via phone or email, and time to tailor each application and cover letter. Programming your days will keep you “on target” and also make sure that you don’t start feeling guilty about the personal time you take (and program!) each day to walk the dog or go to the gym.

2. Build a support network (job search team) around yourself. Don’t let your job hunt become something that you do alone, from the isolation of your home and laptop computer. Engage your family, friends and Military community. Speak about your career goals, seek a Mentor, and reach out and allow those around you to network on your behalf. Your support network will give you encouragement, can provide a shoulder to lean on and may well be the source of your next job lead.

3. Stay engaged with your field. Maintain the passion for your field as well as your occupational currency by finding ways to remain engaged. You may not previously have had the time to actively participate in Linked In or In Gear Career online group conversations so consider sharing your knowledge and experience to get your name out there. Research the many free webinars and training sessions available through the internet and use these to continue your professional development. Become a Mentor or seek a Mentor. Volunteer.

Looking for a new job is always tough and as Military Spouses we find ourselves doing this regularly, and often in new locations where we may not know that many people. If you find yourself in this position as we start 2013, stay strong and count me in as part of your job search team. I’m rooting for you!