Regardless if you are a new military spouse or seasoned, we have all been caught up in installation life at one point in time. I know as a new military spouse when we first moved to Fort Campbell, KY I was obsessed with running all of my errands on post even though we lived about a mile off post. Excitement and convenience easily took over my life. I wanted to explore every inch of post and enjoy the added benefit of having every place I needed fairly centrally located. But as I’ve come to realize, there is so much more beyond the installation gates; by becoming involved in the surrounding civilian community I’ve actually seen my professional career benefit as well.
As military spouses we move a lot. Just as we are about to feel a sense of normalcy in our new location it’s time to bring out the moving boxes and place the fragile mementos of our lives away all in preparation for a new “home”. While this experience is difficult for any military family it can prove even more challenging for career-minded military spouses. There is always the fear of not being able to obtain meaningful employment at your new location. By becoming involved in your community you are able to meet people who will be able to help you land that dream job. It might not be the first person you meet or the second but chances are the more you grow your network the more likely you are to find those key people who will be able to assist you with your job search.
So where do you start to become involved in your civilian community?
• Volunteer: As military spouses we know the value of a helping hand. Take some time to think about what charities, projects, or initiatives really interest you. By aligning your talents with your passions you are able to not only strengthen your resume but also give back to your community. Find a local animal shelter, soup kitchen, or after school mentorship program and become involved.
• Network: While volunteering is a great way to give back to the community you are also placing yourself in the perfect position to network with local leaders. Many prominent community members are involved in their communities in a variety of ways that involve volunteering. This is a great way to not only demonstrate your work ethics but to also show that you are passionate about giving back to the community; two key qualities employers look for in potential prospects.
• Civic Organizations: Join civic organizations in the area surrounding your installation. At the root of it these organizations are all about providing a better way of life for the community’s citizens. As a member of this community you can become active in addressing the needs of the community as well as bringing a military perspective to the issues at hand. These organizations typically provide networking and volunteer opportunities as well.
However you chose to become involved in your community is entirely up to you. The important part is that you at least start. Don’t let the convenience of installation life deter you from building your professional civilian network. After all you never know who you might meet once you get outside your comfort zone.