Everything looks different in 2020, including how military spouses tackle a career search.
After months at home due to COVID-19, restrictions have forced a change to what is already a complex lifestyle. Whether that’s working from home, helping kids with distance learning or missing professional development opportunities, routines are a lot more complicated. But military spouses don’t have to figure it out alone.
This may be the perfect time to reach out and get extra help from a mentor. Lucie Piper, program coordinator for the Military Spouse Mentoring Program at American Corporate Partners (ACP), recommends military spouses connect with a professional role model.
“This is a great time to get linked up because you can talk to your mentor about where you are specifically right now. You can learn how to leverage your current remote work situation into a long-term situation or focus on the ins and outs of your industry and your job search,” she said.
The program connects military spouses with professionals who can help with career exploration, entrepreneurship and small business growth, resume reviews, networking, interview prep, career coaching and overall professional development. Best of all, the program is free to military spouses, active duty, survivors and spouses of wounded because of the partnerships they have formed with Fortune 500 companies.
The COVID-19 lockdown has been a period of uncertainty in many ways, but Piper says mentorship offers free, valuable guidance and direction during difficult times.
“There is never a bad time to network and plan, but it is low risk and high reward to connect to your mentor once a month. If 12-month goals feel too intimidating, set quarterly goals instead of long-term goals,” Piper said.
ACP mentorship program has been creating working relationships since 2008. It’s intentional about connecting qualified candidates with either a professional in their field or an expert in an area where they need business advice. Logistically, each mentor and protégé have a meaningful conversation once a month over the course of a year.
Piper, who is a veteran spouse of a former Marine, has been a mentor herself and is still an operations associate, overseeing many mentored pairs to ensure things are going smoothly for them. She is proud that each mentor is hand-selected for a customized mentorship experience.
“We have a personal call to reach out and get to know each protégé. That’s when we dig in to find out what they are looking for, what mentor they think will be most helpful, what part of their career field needs the most assistance. It’s a very high-touch, back and forth process. If they love the person, we will pair them. If they don’t, we will keep working to pair them with someone else,” she said.
The mentors are professionals from a variety of sectors. Many come from the Fortune 500 companies who sponsor the program at ACP. For the military spouse program, Piper says some of the mentors include other military spouses. But finding a good mentor for military spouse small business owners challenges ACP to think outside the box.
“Our mentors can offer career guidance such as how to restore confidence in professional abilities, craft a resume that reflects years of volunteer service, or start a small business. We can pair a small business owner with someone experienced in marketing or finances. Mentors represent over 35 different area of expertise from different industries to make sure we have the right mentor for every military spouse,” she said.
For military spouses struggling to find career direction after the COVID-19 lockdown, a PCS move or any other military life disruption, an ACP mentor can help mentees develop a career strategy with clear goals and actionable items. Piper says, “I know spouses are navigating a lot of challenges. We want to help them get a foot in the door and make sure their resume is seen. We have space to mentor over 800 military spouses in our program. We’re ready to go and want to help these spouses!”