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Summer Military Spouse Job Fairs

Did you just arrive at your new duty station? Are you visiting before the big move to look at housing? Carry some freshly printed resumes with you and hit the pavement too. It’s never too early to start making connections and introducing yourself to the new neighborhood.

Click on the links below for details about each of these military spouse only hiring fairs hosted by The U.S. Chamber Foundation. Registration is required and they often fill up so don’t wait until the last minute!

June 1

Seattle, Wash.

https://www.uschamberfoundation.org/event/seattle-hiring-expo-seattle-mariners-1

June 13

Palo Alto, Calif.

https://www.uschamberfoundation.org/event/palo-alto-military-hiring-fair

June 19

Fort Jackson Transition Summit

https://www.uschamberfoundation.org/event/fort-jackson-transition-summit

June 21

Fort Gordon, Ga.

https://www.uschamberfoundation.org/event/fort-gordon-transition-summit-2

Washington D.C.

https://www.uschamberfoundation.org/event/2018-military-spouse-employment-summit

July 12

Herndon, Va.

https://www.uschamberfoundation.org/event/herndon-military-hiring-fair

Hiring Our Heroes launches new program to help military spouses find employment

Longtime military spouse supporter, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, is creating a new program called Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zones (MSEEZs) to help address the issues military spouses face in finding employment.

The foundation launched the effort in collaboration with USAA, and is working with both public and private companies and foundations to connect military spouses with employers and employment-related tools and resources.

The first cities picked to be economic empowerment zones are places like San Antonio and Tampa where many of the necessities are already in place. Planners envision the zones as a “one stop shop” for spouses as they seek employment.

A recent study by the Foundation, called Military Spouses in the Workplace, found that the majority of military families need a second income, but only 50 percent of military families are able to have dual income because of the inability of the military spouse to find a job.

Hiring Our Heroes will launch several  MSEEZs throughout 2018 in cities across America in hopes of  fostering a collaboration between key stakeholders to help identify best practices that will support and advance the mission of connecting military spouses with meaningful employment opportunities, ultimately strengthening the financial security of our 21st century military families.

The next MSEEZ will launch in June in Seattle.

For more information visit www.uschamberfoundation.org

The very merry problematic month of May

By Amy Nielsen

I don’t remember when I fully understood that May is a problematic month for me. I know it has been so for a very long stretch of my life. It is both my most favorite month and also the month I most prefer to keep at arm’s length. In working on a project for school, I am required to write a timeline of my life and I have been struck by certain patterns. Events in May seem to top the list.

May is traditionally seen as the glorious bursting forth of life after the rains of April washing all the seeds of the earth as they are heated with lengthening sun. In truth, buds quite literally burst open in the warm sun as they swell with cell growth at a rate that we can see with the naked eye and measure by the hour in some plants.

Ladybugs emerge from the window panes while orange newts and garden snakes sun on the slate path. Skunks and peepers dominate the still chilly nights. Goslings and eaglets. Bunny kits scatter when I walk to the car in the morning. You can almost hear the buzz of the electrons being transferred as the sun rises stronger every morning.

This energy is infectious and sends my focus to scatter with the winds that swirl with the thunderous storm drafts.

The events that have happened in May over the years are difficult to list without sounding like a litany of personal catastrophe alternating with ridiculous coincidence. Suffice to say that there are several birthdays - mine, my Dad’s, and my daughter’s. There are several personal childhood surgeries always landing in May. Having spent a lot of years in a private school, it marks the beginning of summer being let out several weeks earlier than our public school counterparts. Last, but arguably the most catastrophic, it is the month that took my Dad from me.

That last one might seem to many like the biggie, but it really was just the universal exclamation point on an already crystal clear message. May is trouble.

Ever since I was a kid, May has been a month of anxiety. My May usually meant either packing like a crazy person to spend the months before the next school year overseas, or prepping like a crazy person for surgery on my knees so we could leave for overseas as soon as I was recovered enough.

In reading over this assignment I have the regular sense of déjà vu as I write out yet another seasonal march of weirdness in May. In the last few years I have made a study of May, and this year is no different. I know that I started focusing on May the year we bought this house. We closed on May 1.

When the realtor put the key in my hand that early May morning, I felt for all the world like there was a shift in the fabric of the universe. It was a shift I knew well having felt it a few times before already. For once, however, I actually was able to focus on it and understand that it was a shift into another plane of my progression in this life and to be welcomed rather than a ticket to a new level of panic and terror.

That first May at our house in Grove Hill was a great and glorious one. One for the record books. It was filled with new experiences, hard work, and a personal sense of accomplishment I hadn’t felt in a long time. It was the beginning of my next go around.

The following May was among the most terrible as it was an anniversary of a huge loss. For almost 25 years, now more than half my lifetime, I have been without my Dad. He was killed in a car accident in May so very long ago. May is our shared birthday month and I firmly believe a little of his soul lives in his granddaughter born on a Mother’s Day that happened to fall the day before his birthday.

It is interesting to note from a purely clinical side that the majority of my manic episodes begin in May. I have had this pointed out to me recently by a few learned folks in both my professional and personal circles. The key now will be to get a plan together so the summer doesn’t explode into pixie dust or dragon flame and I have a shot at not collapsing again next May.

So to say May is complicated is somewhat of an understatement.

In working with a Shaman from a long way away a couple years ago, I learned to hear myself in a way I had never before. So now I listen to May with ears tuned to my energy. I have learned about the fire in the belly of one with a connection to the May energy, the fire of Beltane, the bursting of bud.

The flipside to all of this is that I absolutely adore the nature of May. After the winter, May feels like I can breathe again, even and especially with all of the blasted pollen. There is finally enough sunlight that I feel like I am alive. Every day, even the rainy, chilly one, I can see progress of each leaf growing, I can smell the oxygen being returned to the air by the plants, I can feel the Earth warming under my feet.

May is such a glorious riot of emotion that I get turned around and upside down. I can’t contain the energy that zooms around and begs, no demands, to be entertained. A May thunderstorm will for sure remind you how small and insignificant you are. May is very merry and also very problematic.

More important than becoming royalty, Meghan Markle will become a military spouse

When American actress Meghan Markle weds Prince Harry this weekend she will take on a title much more important than anything royalty could bestow upon her. She will become a military spouse.

Prince Harry served in the British Army for ten years, rising to the rank of Captain. He served two tours in Afghanistan.

While visiting the U.S. several years ago, he told Michelle Obama and gathered military families that his tour in Afghanistan “changed his life.”

Since then the Prince helped create and support the Invictus Games, an annual world-wide sporting event to celebrate wounded warriors and give them an opportunity to compete athletically. The inaugural games, held in London in 2014, drew more than 400 athletes who competed for five days in front of a crowd of 65,000 people.

He has trekked with injured service members to the North Pole. He told British GQ, "This extraordinary expedition will raise awareness of the debt that this country owes to those it sends off to fight - only for them to return wounded and scarred, physically and emotionally. The debt extends beyond immediate medical care and short-term rehabilitation. These men and women have given so much. We must recognise their sacrifice, be thankful, so far as we can ever repay them for it."

Prince Harry’s dedication to his brothers and sisters in arms is the focus of his days. Now, we welcome his new bride into the fold.

Though she, thankfully, will never experience the hell of deployment or the exhaustion of a PCS, she is our sister in arms.

Like her husband, she is certain to kneel to tend to our wounded and bow to honor our dead. We are thankful for her service as she makes serving her new military family a focus of her days too.  In turn, her military family will envelope her in love and devotion.

Welcome, Meghan. We’re glad to have you. And, we’ve got your back. Always. 

Graduate hiring outlook for 2018

Are you graduating from a degree program this year?

There may be more jobs waiting for you to choose from than in past years.

Employers plan to hire 4 percent more new graduates this year than from the Class of 2017, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Surveyed employers said their hiring numbers are growing due to company growth, retirements and the need for entry-level talent.

The NACE report says the Northeast region is the only one of the four regions reporting an overall decrease in college hiring, with a slight dip of 1.7 percent. The Southeast (3.8 percent), Midwest (10.4 percent) , and West (4.1 percent) regions are showing increases.

While the Northeast region projects a small decrease in overall hiring, spring 2018 recruiting plans for employers in this region show the most promise, the NACE report says. More than three-quarters of respondents in the Northeast have firm or tentative plans to recruit on campus in the spring.

Wondering who employers are looking for? The organization says Almost 84 percent of new hires will hold bachelor’s degrees, 12 percent will have master’s degrees, 2.4 percent will have associate degrees, and 1.7 will hold doctoral degrees, with the remaining 0.4 percent holding professional degrees.

The top hiring fields are business, engineering and computer and information sciences across all levels of degrees, associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate. Near the bottom of every list in every degree type is humanities and education majors.

To read the full report, visit http://careerservices.wayne.edu/pdfs/2018-nace-job-outlook-survey.pdf

Army considers delaying PCS rotations to help spouses secure work

How long is sufficient to retain a quality job?

Army leadership is asking that question now and assuring senators that they are working to help military spouses find employment.

This week Military.com reported that top Army leaders spoke with lawmakers about helping spouses find meaningful work and that longer assignments to duty stations could be a way to make that happen.

Senators told those leaders that currently it takes 140 days for the Army to hire spouses or civilians for on-base jobs, a result of a “clunky and inefficient” vetting process in the Office of Personnel Management.

Earlier this month President Donald Trump issued an executive order encouraging federal agencies to speed the hiring of military spouses. Still, lawmakers say a lack of stabilization in one location, as well as a lack of on-base jobs, are the biggest hurdles.

To read the full report by Military.com, please visit, https://www.military.com/daily-news/2018/05/15/army-mulls-longer-assignments-encourage-employers-hire-spouses.html

Retirement: When PCS season ends, forever

PCS season is here. Time to start purging, packing and planning. Time to start looking at houses and school districts and things to do in the new place. Time to start convincing the kids how great the new place is going to be. Time to start saying goodbye to friends and neighbors and get ready to reinvent yourself all over again for the umpteenth time.

Oh, wait.

Not me.

Not this year.

I don’t have to do that anymore. We’re retirees now.

Looking back on my husband’s 26-year Army career, it’s amazing that we spent 17 years OCONUS. We PCS’d 13 times. Here’s all the places we were stationed, in order:

Hawaii (Schofield Barracks), Georgia (Ft. Benning), North Carolina (Ft. Bragg), Okinawa, Korea (Yongsan Garrison), Florida (MacDill Air Force Base), Germany (Stuttgart), MacDill AFB again, Kansas (Ft. Riley), Stuttgart again, Canada (Toronto), Stuttgart a third time, and back to the U.S.

We weren’t on the typical summer PCS cycle until later in my husband’s career. Once we were, it was like clockwork. We moved five of the last seven summers. And now, it seems, nearly everyone moves between May and September. It has become the official season of goodbyes and starting over.

PCS’ing always brings a mixed of emotions. Marriages are stressed, kids are heartbroken, pets are confused, household goods are lost, finances are stretched.

But it’s exciting, too. One of my favorite things about Army life was the first few weeks at a new duty station – getting to know the area, checking out restaurants and shopping, meeting new neighbors. And if we got really lucky, my husband might have a little free time to enjoy the new place, too, before starting what always seemed like a 24/7 work cycle, or going TDY, or to the field, or getting deployed, or whatever else might come up.

Of course there was all the stress of deciding where to live, signing up for utilities, getting the kids registered for school, living in a hotel.

Our moves usually had a few extra unknowns, too. Since we did so many OCONUS transitions, we were always waiting for a car to arrive, waiting longer for our household goods, and trying to get settled while adjusting to new languages and a new culture.

But that part was kind of exciting, too.

Our last address change was in August, when we bought a house in Florida.

The other day my husband commented that, almost eight months after moving in, we were finally, completely, unpacked and set up.

 “It feels like we’re really here,” he said.

Our next door neighbor made a similar observation while commenting on the long list of home improvement projects we’ve been doing.

He said: “So I guess you’re here to stay.”

And now, with PCS season upon us, the realization has hit me that we will never again get a set of military orders. Never again will we anxiously wait to find out where the next duty station is, and as soon as we get there start to wonder when and where the next move will be.

I don’t know that we’ll live in this house or this place forever, but we’re parked here for at least the foreseeable future. And, if and when we do move again, it will be on our own terms.

So, for all of you going through the PCS craziness this summer, I salute you. I wish you good packers and no damage, healthy kids, healthy pets, the strength of a superhero and the patience of a saint.

I wish you a smooth transition to your new place and, most of all, a great start to your new adventure.

I feel your pain, but I don’t feel bad for you. I’m envious.

Enjoy it while you can.

Creating a life to love

By Amy Nielsen

“Live the life you love,” the bumper sticker said. “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life,” goes the age old adage. “Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work,” quipped the grandmother.

How many of us ever get the chance to say we do exactly what we want to do for a job? More often than not we hear about all of the office politics and watercooler jive. The commute kills our family time and we haven’t actually taken those vacations days in years.

Work bears the burden of responsibility. We are taught that responsibility is arduous and means being boring and underappreciated. When was the last time you walked out the door in the morning with a smile splitting your face like you might crack and a literal skip in your step because the idea of going to your job was that exciting and enjoyable?

I have been lucky enough in my time as a questionably responsible adult to have worked in some really interesting and completely off the wall careers. I have had, at this point, three major careers and one minor hop to the left – time warp fashion. I am pleased to say that I have loved them all for exactly what they brought into my life, both in friends and family, but also experiences I could have had in no other way.

My path was both random and planned. In some cases I decided to leap to a new cloud. In others my job disappeared and it seemed like a good time to try on a new career. Either way, the intent became following the wilds of change and listening to my heart.

When you think back on your first job, what is the very first sense that you remember? I’m not talking about working for family. I’m talking about the first job you interviewed for, even if it was one you resented. I remember walking into the smell of sawdust, cigarettes, cheap coffee, paint, and that slightly sweet smell of dust disintegrating on very hot metal surfaces.

My best friend was a theater brat at the local community theater. One afternoon at the end of freshman year in high school, in those strange, end of year, post-exam, pre-graduation days of early June, she needed a ride to rehearsal and I obliged. It was hot. The road was being repaved out front after the spring pothole season. Inside the theater the cool darkness wrapped itself around me as I sank into the faded, threadbare, velveteen seat. Until this point I had rarely been in a theater as an audience member. I had only seen a few live performances and never a rehearsal.

It seems so very strange to me to write that last sentence. I cannot fathom now that I once had not known the single slightest thing about how a theater worked. Sitting in that prickly seat in the dark, I realized that the thought had never crossed my mind that someone could do what those people were doing in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week, in the center of town in June. And they got paid to do it too.

I realized that my paradigm followed that adults went to an office to work during the day. That jobs were dull, the boss was a boob, the pay was terrible, and the prospects of it ever changing bore a striking resemblance to a snowball in – well anyway. I believed that performers of this level did something else during the day. I mean, of course I knew then that people did work in places other than offices for a living. But it never occurred to me that I might be able to do something other than work in an office. The liberation made me shiver and draw in a deep breath.

To say I got bitten by the proverbial bug might better be described as the summer I ran away with the theater for 15 years. My greatest fortune in life thus far has been that the very first job I interviewed for and was hired to also became not only my lifelong passion but also a teacher that all worlds are possible.

I spent this past weekend, as I often do in the warmer weather, at a festival with friends, many of whom were vending or performing. Theirs is a life often glamorized and polished with the rag of gypsy mystery. Both characterizations are patently false as the life of a nomadic performer is as glamorous as setting up tents in the pouring rain knowing that attendance will be meager at best and certainly not pay for the space let alone dinner or gas to the next festival. The Roma might have a few words of caution about the word gypsy. Not a single one of these friends would ever choose willingly to sit in an office building.

Then there is my dear friend, the actuary. She deals with risk assessment and management in a large financial firm specializing in international transactions. To say her job is the polar opposite of my entire existence is an understatement. She spends her days in an office glued to several large computer screens scrolling through numbers, talking about human nature, and assessing how it might affect decision making. Her job is figuring out how to keep the two separate for the health of both. The idea of living life on the road and camping most weekends would cause her anxiety that would rock an elephant.

How many of us have friends who make their living doing exactly what they are best suited for? How many friends do you have who are doing exactly what they love to do and getting paid to do it? How do you weigh the cost to your spirit against tithing homage to a paycheck?

Did you choose your career or did it choose you? Is your heart full when you do what you call your work? Is it serving your greater purpose to do your job? What would it take to live your dreams?

It’s a scary prospect to leap at that moon. It feels like leaving all sanity behind and landing among a pile of asteroids colliding. Sure there are risks and exchanges to be made when you follow your heart. Do you want to feel like you do when you are in your most productive, happiest, strongest place? There is nothing that says you need to stay doing the same thing forever unless you want to. Do you want to?

Military family: The ties that bind and support

My husband retired from the Army five full years ago. It feels like a lifetime ago.

Five years without ceremonies, packing, early morning PT or deployment - five years without uniforms to clean or friends to say farewell to as they moved on to their next duty station.

We’ve settled quietly into civilian life, in a tiny town with a routine schedule that we once envied during our busiest PCS.

Our military life seemed gone, though I often longed for it while I sat in carline at the same school now, for five long years. After three years I felt the itch to begin packing and looking at maps and felt anxious, as if I was missing … something. By four years I was longing to get the heck out of here. At five years the routine has settled in and so have we. I now dread the idea of moving again.

Our military life, our military friends seem so far away. This week I was jarred from nostalgia and reminded of just how tight knit and wonderful our military community is.

My teenage son is traveling to two scout camps, 1,000 miles apart. The travel day from one and to the other falls on the same day, meaning my son will miss a bus and has to find his own way between Indiana and Florida.

That was the easy part, we could fly him without an issue. Getting him between the camp and the airport on one end and between the airport and the bus traveling through Florida was the sticking point.

Our military family rescued us. One retired friend in Indiana, now a state trooper, happily offered to pick our son up during his rounds, an hour out of his way, and drop him at the airport. His badge will easily get him through security to help our son make sure there are no travel issues.

On the other end, my husband’s former commander, and close friend, was delighted to pick up our son and not just play catch up with the traveling bus but also have time to discuss our son’s upcoming Eagle project him. The former military commander is also an Eagle Scout and spends as much time as he can helping other scouts achieve that goal.

Just when I felt at a loss our military family was there to support us, even at 1,000 miles away in two different directions. And after five years, though our military life feels a lifetime away, it is very much a part of us. The friends we made there were truly friends for life.

Job fairs for military spouses this month

Spring showers bring May jobs!

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation continues to support military spouses as they search for jobs across the nation. They will host a number of job fairs around the country this month as well as several new events to help spouses meet potential employers and network.

The transition summits are a great way to help plan your move from military to civilian life. During the sessions attendees work on resume writing skills, find help building a well-crafted LinkedIn profile and participate in mock interviews.

 The AMPLIFY military spouse career intensive is a relatively new offering. The two-day exclusive event leads military spouses through intensive career preparation and development. Attendees must apply and commit to the full, two-day experience. Class sizes are kept small to insure each attendee is given individual attention.

Attendees will be given the opportunity to: work with a mentor in the industry of their choice, participate in interactive sessions on salary negotiations, networking skills, PCS strategies and starting and moving a business as a military spouse. Each attendee leaves with an improved resume, professional photos and a polished LinkedIn profile.

For details on applying and reserving your spot at any foundation event, follow the links below. Good luck!

May 16

Boston, Mass.

https://www.uschamberfoundation.org/event/boston-hiring-expo-boston-red-sox-2

May 22

Hulburt Field Transition Summit

May 24

AMPFLIFY Military Spouse Career Intensive – San Antonio

https://www.uschamberfoundation.org/event/amplify-military-spouse-career-intensive-san-antonio

May 31

Coast Guard Base Seattle Military Transition Summit

https://www.uschamberfoundation.org/event/coast-guard-base-seattle-transition-summit

Bethesda Military Spouse Hiring Reception

https://www.uschamberfoundation.org/event/bethesda-military-spouse-hiring-reception

June 1

Seattle, Wash.

https://www.uschamberfoundation.org/event/seattle-hiring-expo-seattle-mariners-1

June 13

Palto Alto Military Hiring Fair

https://www.uschamberfoundation.org/event/palo-alto-military-hiring-fair

 

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