Why look for just another job, when you can embark upon a whole new career? Learn about the latest developments in careers for military spouses. With your mobile lifestyle, there are certain portable careers that can offer you and your family stability and future growth. If you have any topics that you would like to see us write about, feel free to email the editor:
Want to grow your career? Make connections, face to face

As an Air Force veteran and military spouse, Susan Feland knows exactly what it is like to move often, at any  time,  to any  location. She also understands the challenges of establishing effective personal and professional networks in a community in order to find meaningful employment after each of those moves.

Feland wanted to help military spouses use and keep the networks they had built as they moved from place to place. In 2012 she founded AcademyWomen, a non-profit organization that provides personal and professional development to current, future and former military officers. The organization is partnered with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as part of the Joining Forces Initiative launched by the First Lady to extend the eMentor Program to military spouses.

“Ninety percent of jobs are gained through someone you know,” said Feland, also AcademyWomen’s president. “Just a few years ago that figure was 70-80 percent. My programs help military spouses leverage the networks they already have, despite frequent relocations, by connecting mentors and their protégés in an online community. They also help employers who want to hire military spouses know where to find them.”

Feland’s journey to AcademyWomen began with her own career in the Air Force, a decision influenced by her own family’s service.

 “My grandfather was in the military, my dad was a Navy Seal and both my sisters were in the Air Force, so I ended up in the Air Force Academy and served eight years of active duty,” she said. “I worked in international relations, traveling and representing the U.S. with the Embassy. I also worked in acquisition of space and missile systems, on the cost and finance side, and taught foreign language at the Air Force Academy.”

Feland’s first years in Corporate America mirrored her military career in that she had an array of professional experiences. She held jobs with Merrill Lynch, the Hoover Institution, Stanford Graduate School of Business and several community-based non-profits.

Throughout her career Feland built strong relationships with other professionals who ultimately helped her achieve her goals, to include building AcademyWomen. She suggests military spouses do the same in order to advance their job search and careers.

“Don’t sit behind a computer shooting out resumes. People need to get to know you,” she said. “Attend community events, work in local charities, coach athletic teams – these are the places where you can meet potential employers or people who can refer you for employment.”

Then, use technology to maintain relationships despite frequent relocation.

“Early in my career I had to travel a lot to maintain networking relationships because face-to-face interaction was critical,” she said. “Nowadays, military spouses have the advantage of being able to leverage the relationships they already have by using social media, video conferencing and other technology no matter where they live.”     

Connecting with people, virtually and in-person, provides a distinct benefit to professional development.

“So often people are limited by what they see, hear and already know. If they broaden their frames of reference by talking to a lot of different people, they become open to all types of new options. The barriers and limitations come down, Feland said. “It’s been very exciting for me to help other women obtain that kind of broadened perspective.” When you set that career goal, Feland suggests first, find a way to pursue your passion in the workplace.

“It is important to think about what you enjoy doing and let yourself dream about how many other ways you could do it,” said Feland. “Think big and don’t put constraints on it. As soon as you catch yourself saying things like, ‘but’, ‘if only’, and ‘it’s not possible’, step back. Think about what the next steps would be and then start connecting.”

 If you are serious about turning your passion into a career, don’t just enjoy it, learn about it.

“Talk to people in that world. Research, read and learn about a topic related to your passion and just do it,” she said. “You have to be willing to take risks, too, because without risks, there is no chance of a big accomplishment. 

 Feland said as she cultivated relationships and began growing partners, one of the biggest challenges was also trusting those partners to follow through.

“My biggest challenge has been trusting that potential partner organizations are trustworthy, true to their word and want a win-win situation. Sometimes I come across an organization that only wants the win for themselves and doesn’t care if we get anything out of the partnership,” she said.

The potential risk can be sidestepped with more work on your end.  

Feland suggests diligent research of any potential business partner’s background and past business relationships before taking a dive, to protect your assets and theirs. .

For information about the many projects she manages to help military-connected women, visit .


For Military Spouses
Apply for the Salute to Spouses scholarship today and begin your education! You’ll be on the way to your dream career.

Weekly Poll

Do you have a LinkedIn profile?