By Rose Holland
We had a reader share a challenge she had. She lives in a small time near a military base. She has a unique career field, zookeeper, so there are extremely limited opportunities. The local zoo told her outright that they did not want her because she was a military spouse and would leave. The reader let us know that the local down does not support the military community. There was a local beautification project and assistance from military organizations was refused.
I have had an experience where I was questioned about my long-term availability because my job history easily led to the fact that I am a military spouse. It is easy to overcome such questions by explaining that my experience as a military spouse enables me to jump in and contribute, but this is something different. What do you do when told they just do not want you because of your spouse’s military career? You many not be able to
Look elsewhere. I do know families who live between and each commute to work a long distance so they can each continue with their career. In a remote location, this may not be an option. In the case of the zookeeper, the next closest zoo may be 100’s of miles away. The family may choose to live in separate locations so the spouse can continue to pursue their career. It may be difficult, but it can work.
Think outside the box. You may not be able to overcome the challenge and work directly in your career field, but you might still be able to continue to develop your career. Think about teaching at a community college or university, furthering your education or taking a slightly different approach. A zookeeper may want to work with a vet or shop dealing with exotic animals, manage an exotic animal control program or develop an educational program for youth. It may not be the ideal, but new skills could be developed that may provide unique an opportunity for career growth.
Strategically volunteer. Sometimes volunteering in your career field could lead to a paid position. If a zookeeper cannot obtain a paid position, perhaps they could volunteer at the zoo. Their professionalism and expertise may win the zoo staff over. If the zoo does not want them, I am sure the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and other organizations would love to have the expertise of the zookeeper to educate youth and provide a unique perspective. The local animal rescue or control program may be able to utilize their expertise in caring for some of the exotic animals.
We cannot always overcome those who do not want a military spouse as a part of their company or organization. It is difficult when these unfair situations occur. There are not always easy answers. Remember John Wooden’s words, “Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”