Struggling to find work as a military spouse is an ongoing problem across all branches and ranks, but many spouses have become resourceful and successful despite the challenges. Settling for whatever comes a military spouse’s way does not have to be the norm.
Financial issues are cited by the Blue Star Families 2018 “Military Family Lifestyle Survey” as a top lifestyle stressor among military families. In fact, the survey states that 70 percent of “Millennial military family respondents were significantly more likely to report having two incomes as vital to their family’s well-being.”
Ultimately, dual incomes have been an increasing expectation for families regardless of the service member’s rank. Plus, a military spouse’s lack of employment, or underemployment, has become a top financial obstacle.
However, there are many military spouses that have worked to not be a struggling statistic. From Alabama, Germany, to Hawaii, the following three women are only a few examples of many that have overcome military spouse employment issues.
A mobile photography business gives this spouse freedom
Meredith Ryncarz has been a military spouse for 12 years and is currently living in Alabama with her family. Her background is in education but with frequent moves, she found it difficult to maintain an active teaching license and find work that paid at a master’s degree level. Being resourceful, she used a previously untapped art degree to focus on opening her own photography business. Ryncarz also had to figure out how to grow the business and relocate it with each Permanent Change of Station. This allowed her to build a process in training others.
Ryncarz now works as a wedding and portrait photographer as well as a relocation specialist who helps creative businesses rapidly market in new locations. Ryncarz says she loves the freedom it provides her with her family while earning an income.
“Don’t be afraid to use your skill set to open your own business,” Ryancarz suggested to other military spouses. “It can be incredibly freeing to be able to be your own boss and not have the fear hanging over you of trying to find work on your own in a new town. Start leveraging fellow business owners in your new area that you can start to get to know because you can’t do this alone.”
Remote working is the key to this spouse’s career
Jamie Chapman served in the Army for six years and has been a military spouse for three years. She and her family are currently stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany. Utilizing the knowledge from a Master’s in Business Administration, Chapman created a home-based resume writing business and works part time as a recruiter. While she is able to maintain a career, she admits that the overseas location hurts her business since she primarily works with U.S.-based clients.
“I’m making do with virtual employment, a ‘side hustle’ and freelance gigs,” she said, but looks forward to having a less isolated and more steady career in the future.
Chapman recognizes the struggle of finding a fulfilling work from home position can be like that of a unicorn, and that not all military spouses are lucky enough to have one.
“For military spouses seeking employment, get help,” Chapman suggested. “I have a list of over 50 organizations that help veterans and military spouses find jobs—there’s no need to struggle with simple things like a resume when you have to worry about so many other things.”
This spouse created her own opportunity
Amy Schweizer has been a military spouse for nine years and is stationed at Marine Corps Base, Hawaii, with her family. Prior to meeting her husband, she had interned with the Philadelphia 76ers and Philadelphia KiXX, and was on her way to working with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Using her educational background in finance and sports management, Schweizer is now owner and director of Tiny Troops Soccer, a developmental soccer program for kids ages 2 to 4. Living at military bases has limited her ability to work in the professional sports industry due to geographical location, but has allowed her to expand her business to 27 military bases.
Schweizer recognizes the power of networking could be the key to a job at the next duty station.
“Reach out to people who you have come across at a prior duty station, or put a feeler out with the type of position you are looking for,” Schweizer said. “Since there are only about three steps of separation in the military, you are bound to know someone who knows someone involved with what you are interested in.”
Coming up with creative solutions to finding work outside of one’s initial education or training experiences is not impossible, and can even fulfill areas of need in one’s community. There are many more stories like these that come with the frequent moves and military lifestyle. Military spouses are not yet done in continuing to build and think of innovative ways to support one another.Read comments