A #MilSpouse Recap on the 9th MOAA Spouse Symposium

A #MilSpouse Recap on the 9th MOAA Spouse Symposium

Guest Author: Hisako Sonethavilay, A Marine Corps Spouse and a 2013-2014 MOAA Currently Serving Spouse Advisory Council Member.


On Wednesday, March 26th, I attended MOAA’s 9th Military Spouse Symposium in their “Keeping a Career on the Move” series hosted at the Hilton in Old Town Alexandria. I was one of the 175 fellow military spouses who attended the event, eager to learn new knowledge, professional tools/skills, and network with others.


There were two breakout sessions that I attended which I found to be very rewarding: the “Resume Writing and LinkedIn Strategies for Military Spouses” session with Jim Carman, MOAA Director of Transition Services, and the “Military Spouse Life Coaching Seminar” session with Dr. Michelle Still Mehta, PhD Military Spouse Life Coach and military spouse of 14 years.


“Resume Writing and LinkedIn Strategies for Military Spouses”
I wasn’t surprised that this session was quite a popular selection among the registrants especially with the majority of the registrants looking for a job or working at a job outside of their career choice. I was surprised however to realize how much additional knowledge I gained from attending the session even though I had attended numerous resume-writing workshops in the past. It goes to show that “resume writing is an ongoing exercise” as Mr. Carman emphasized during the workshop.




Key take-away:


  • It is important to have as many eyes reviewing your resume as we try to perfect it.
  • It can be a frustrating process to know that we spend hours perfecting our resume for someone in HR to skim through our resumes in a few seconds.
  • If you are attending a career fair, printing back to back is acceptable, as recruiters want to minimize the amount of paper they carry back with them.
  • While developing our resumes, ask ourselves these three essential questions:


  1. What was your specific contribution to the division, group, or department?
  2. What would not have happened if you had not been there?
  3. What is your proudest boast?


  • Recruiters like to see that candidates were involved in college varsity athletics, Greek life, and other similar team activities so include this in your resume.
  • During the end of an interview, incorporate a powerful closing statement such as asking for the job in a positive and enthusiastic manner.
  • Military spouses are often victim to testifying against ourselves so try your best to avoid this during an interview.
  • Continue to build your professional network using tools such as LinkedIn, which has become the largest and most popular professional and business network.


“Military Spouse Life Coaching Seminar”
I was also not surprised to see how popular this session was. As a military spouse, mother to a young toddler, and professional, I am familiar with the confusion and frustration others in my position face as we try to juggle our numerous roles, responsibilities, and aspirations. It was comforting to hear the various stories Dr. Mehta shared from her research supporting the concept that it is a challenge but it is not a challenge we can’t overcome. Dr. Mehta emphasized the importance of the understanding the impact the three M’s have in our life and career pursuit in addition to working on our job skills.




Key questions to ask yourself as you pursuit a career:


  • Marriage: “How does your marriage factor into your career success? Do you and your spouse have the same expectations about how your lives will run and where your career fits into that?
  • Motherhood: “What kind of parent do you want to be and how does that fit with your career expectations?”
  • Military Life: “How often will you move? Do you know where those locations are likely to be? How long does your spouse want to stay in? How often will you experience a deployment? How demanding is your spouses schedule? and how available will your spouse be as a partner and parent?”


As we find a career that is a good fit with the three M’s, we are then able to experience a preservation of our whole self. Otherwise, if our career is a poor fit with the three M’s, we may experience the opposite effect of depression, defeat, and loss of self.