Career Change Courtesy of Uncle Sam

Career Change Courtesy of Uncle Sam

New place, new people, and oh no — not a new career?!

Such is the life of a military spouse.

Sometimes, our careers have to be modified according to the opportunities available at our new duty station, servicemember’s availability, etcetera. Making a career change is never easy — it’s always a challenging (and sometimes quite terrifying) endeavor.

Here are a few tips for making a necessary career change a little less stressful:

Power of networking

Networks often are established in an industry — specific manner. Real estate professionals network with real estate professional groups, educators network with educators, nurses network with nurses, and so on. While such an industry — focused networking strategy can be very influential in establishing an industry — specific network, it’s not so great when faced with changing industries.

Making a successful career change often requires cultivation of a broader professional network. As a military spouse who’s made more than one career change courtesy of Uncle Sam, I found it extremely helpful to prioritize the development of a non — industry specific professional network. While the majority of my experience has been in agriculture and communications, I make a point to “think big” when it comes to networking. Cultivating connections outside your current industry can pay dividends when faced with a career change.

Back to school

Going back to school often is a requirement for a successful career change. Whether it’s taking a few continuing education courses, or completing a new four — year degree, most professional transitions are going to require some additional education. Before making the commitment to go back to school, do your homework. Research career options while exploring the mechanics of how this new opportunity will work with your military lifestyle. What will the work hours look like? Will this new-to-you profession be in demand at your next duty station? Do required certifications and licenses transfer across states? Find a military spouse active in the new profession you’re considering and get the “down low” on how the career in questions jives with the #milso life.

Continuing your education requires many resources — time, energy, and finances. Before taking the plunge, make sure you’ve got a realistic handle of the costs associated with making the transition. It’s more than just tuition — think books, enrollment fees, child care, gas expense, missed income, etcetera. There also are many financial assistance options available for military spouses who are interested in furthering their education.

Here are a few of my favs:

Navigating a new industry

Six years of school down, two more to go — I was on track to becoming a large animal veterinarian. Then, I fell in love with a solider, war happened, and everything changed. I found myself at an untimely crossroad and was faced with the decision to either complete my existing career track or support the man I loved. I chose my soldier and found my professional self back at square one. Castrating cattle and vaccinating sheep didn’t translate well into my new military life. Transitioning into the world of business wasn’t easy — in fact, it was years before I felt I was no longer “behind the curve.”

Much like changing communities, it sometimes can take a while to feel comfortable after changing industries. Recognize that every transition will require some adjustment time and the key to success is adaptability. Give yourself time to learn a new industry — successful transitions don’t happen overnight. However, cultivating professional goals that work with your spouse’s military service can mean big benefits in the long run.