Congresswoman Tsongas to speak at Homefront Rising Event

In Gear Career for Military Spouses and Military Spouse JD Network (MSJDN), along with our partners She Should Run, Women Influencing Public Policy, and the American Military Partner Association, are pleased to announce that Congresswoman Niki Tsongas will be the morning keynote speaker at Homefront Rising on February 11, 2014.

Homefront Rising is a non-partisan political education event in Washington, D.C. that targets military spouse attorneys and other military family advocates. Congresswoman Tsongas, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has a long record of supporting the military.

Congresswoman Tsongas is very familiar with the military way of life; she is the eldest daughter of Colonel Russell Elmer Sauvage. Congresswoman Tsongas grew up all around the world on military bases, from Japan to Germany to Texas. Congresswoman Tsongas is well acquainted with the importance and purpose of a military family and the sacrifices they make in support of their country. She credits her upbringing with shaping her approach to life, and with instilling in her the value of service to one’s community.

To that end, Niki Tsongas ran for public office. In 2007, Congresswoman Tsongas was elected to the US House of Representatives in a Special Election to represent the people of the Fifth District, which was renamed the Third District after her most recent reelection in 2012. She represents the Third Congressional District of Massachusetts, and is now serving her fourth term.

Congresswoman Tsongas has served on several committees and has accomplished so much during her tenure in the House of Representatives, with a particular focus on military advocacy. She sought out a position on the House Armed Services Committee shortly after her election in 2007, and in that capacity, has pushed for development of lightweight body armor and new measures to better prevent and respond to incidents of sexual assault in the military. Congresswoman Tsongas has made five trips to Afghanistan and two to Iraq since being elected to Congress to oversee the war effort and has spoken for the need for women in the rebuilding of government.

What’s more, Congresswoman Tsongas is not afraid to reach across the aisle. The Lowell Sun printed in 2012: “Tsongas has convinced us of a core common goal: As long as she is in Congress, the best interests of constituents will always come ahead of party politics.”

Congresswoman Tsongas has a BA in religion from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts and earned her JD from Boston University. She lives in her adopted hometown of Lowell, Massachusetts and is proud to be the mother of three daughters and, recently, grandmother to one grandson.

We hope you join us in our excitement to have this amazing woman in attendance to share her experiences and political knowledge.

Click Here to Register for Homefront Rising.

The Must-Have Resource for the Career-Minded Military Spouse

With nearly 70% of open jobs filled by referral, having a professional network is essential to a successful career, no matter what stage we’re in: actively looking for a new job, considering a return to the workforce in the near future, or happily employed.

The frequent relocations associated with the military lifestyle make it particularly challenging for career-minded military spouses to build this essential network of professional contacts—contacts that can open the door to unadvertised job openings.

Each time we PCS to a new duty station, we often have to start from scratch to find employment commensurate with advanced education and experience. And even though we may be surrounded by the spouse community at large, being a military spouse with career ambitions can sometimes be frustrating and isolating.

That’s why we’re here to help.

In Gear Career is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life, morale, and stability of military families by enabling military spouses to seek and obtain professional employment alongside their service members.

Through our local chapters, website, and social media channels, we offer career-minded military spouses like you opportunities to:

  • build your professional network and advance your job search by connecting you with local business leaders
  • expand your knowledge though career resources and professional development opportunities
  • be a part of a supportive community of like-minded spouses to who understand the challenges of balancing a professional career with the demands of a military lifestyle.

You’ll find advice tailored to the needs of military spouse professionals, tips and tricks to help you get ahead in your career, and much more.

In Gear Career currently has more than 16 local chapters throughout the U.S. and Europe, with more planned for 2014.

Join Us – Find Your Local Chapter

Take charge of your career! Get started by creating your FREE account here.

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

Five Creative Job Search Strategies for Military Spouses

Creative job search strategies for career minded military spousesNot only is it mind-numbingly repetitive to spend 40 hours a week firing off cover letters and resumes with the precision of a Swiss assembly line, it’s not an effective strategy to land full-time employment. With a little creativity and initiative, career-minded military spouses can continue to advance their careers while looking for full time opportunities.

Here are five must-do strategies to help you stay marketable during a job search:

1. Volunteer

Volunteering is one of the best ways to stay marketable in during a job hunt. You will not only gain useful experience that, if positioned correctly, can be used to fill in gaps in your employment history, you will open up a wide range of networking opportunities that could lead to future full-time employment.

That said, it’s important to be strategic about your volunteer work. While spending your weekends swinging a hammer and building houses for the poor is certainly noble, focus your volunteer efforts on opportunities where you can build upon the skills you already use in your career. Alternatively, seek out opportunities to build your “soft skills,” such as leadership, that are in demand no matter what field you are in. Step up and chair that FRG committee that no one wants to lead or run for an executive position on the school PTA.

2. Network, Network, Network

If it feels like we’ve been beating this idea to death, well, we are—but with good reason! The majority of senior-level and professional positions are filled through referrals, so use your time to stay in contact with your professional network, and actively seek opportunities to expand it.

But what if you are new to an area and don’t know anyone? Most, if not all, military spouses have been in this position at least once during a service member’s career. First, check out In Gear Career to see if there is already an established local chapter in your new area. Also, look for networking events sponsored by the local chamber of commerce or college. Or better yet, try #3.

3. Join a Professional Organization

Professional organizations of all kinds exist in nearly every city and state, and being active in the right organization is smart way to build your professional network and stay up to date on industry trends.

Think about the industry-specific major organizations in your field. Sign up for the local chapter, and you’ll have access to networking opportunities and educational events that will help you in the know. If there isn’t a local chapter, sign up for the chapter nearest you and stay in close contact with those members online through the organization’s listserv or forums.

If there isn’t an industry-specific professional organization near you, consider joining an organization comprised of professionals from diverse industries, such as the National Association of Professional Women or Toastmasters International.

4. Keep Learning

While it may not be feasible to go back to school full time, you can still keep your skills current, often with very little added expense.

Coursera and EdX offer free online classes taught by leading university professors. You can also take advantage of the (often free) whitepapers, tutorials and webinars offered by companies and professional organizations (usually as a way to attract new customers/members). And don’t overlook that wonderful resource called YouTube. It’s not only a repository of funny cat videos and internet memes, it’s one of the best how-to tools ever invented. Need to learn how to use a specific software program? There are hundreds, if not thousands, of video tutorials available to choose from.

5. Freelance

Freelancing is an excellent way to keep your skills sharp, build your online brand and make connections that can greatly help your career trajectory. And let’s not forget the fact that you get paid and will likely have flexibility with your work schedule—something important to nearly every military spouse, especially during a service member’s deployment.

Check out this blog for a list of the best freelancing websites and suggestions on how to use each of them effectively.

Got any strategies to stay marketable while looking for a job? Share them here.

A Personal Online Brand Is Essential to Military Spouse Career Success

A strong personal online brand is critical to military spouse career successWhen you think of a brand, words like “Apple” and “Nike” probably pop into your head. But when an employer thinks about a brand, an entirely different picture comes to mind.

So why should a buzzword like “branding” matter to you, the career-minded military spouse, if a. you’re not a marketing geek, or b. you’ve already crossed off “create well-written cover letter” and “check resume for typos” from your job search to do list?

Simple. Your professional image online (a.k.a. your “personal online brand”) is quickly becoming the new yardstick by which a potential employer will measure your value proposition, fit for the job, skills and expertise. In some industries, your online brand now carries as much, if not more, weight than the carefully crafted resume and cover letter into which you poured blood, sweat, tears, and enough printer ink to keep the local office supply store in business.

The upside to this (yes, there is an upside besides saving money on printer ink) is that by showcasing your skills, knowledge, and expertise online, you are building a compelling, persuasive case for your next employer to hire you—before you ever send a resume. You are empowered to actively shape potential employers’ perception of you, and take charge of your career.

Developing a strong personal online brand is an important strategy for career-focused military spouses. It’s a very good way to demonstrate skills and expertise for which you want to be known, especially if you are changing careers or reentering the workforce after time away. Even if you are just looking to remain marketable in your field, a well-crafted online brand that effectively positions your strengths and abilities will help you stay competitive.

In the coming weeks we’ll share our strategies to help you develop a personal online brand that increases your marketability. In the meantime, we’d love to hear your tips, ideas and questions for building and nurturing your personal online brand.

*Photo credit: Victor1558 (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)