Veterans and those who love them make no shortage of sacrifices on behalf of this country. But one sacrifice that’s perhaps not as readily acknowledged is the obstacles both veterans and military spouses can face when building out their careers in the civilian realm. This Veteran’s Day, Fairygodboss and Getting Hired asked folks in the veteran and military family community to share the ways this identity has aided and at times impeded them professionally, as well as their No. 1 pieces of advice to fellow military community jobseekers.
Do you believe veterans and their families should have the right to build civilian careers free of obstacles and biases? Show your support and #Pledge4VetFamilies here.
Who: Meghan Michael
What: Founder and Owner, HR Navigator, LLC. Adjunct Professor, Lourdes University
Where: Perrysburg, Ohio
How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
I started my company about eight months ago, and I started teaching this Fall. I retired from the Navy in September of 2017 and took a little time to breathe.
What factors were most important to you in transitioning from a military to civilian job? Are there any challenges associated with that transition that people may not be aware of?
This is the second time I have transitioned. I previously left Active Duty in 2005 as a somewhat new mom (my oldest was 9 months at the time) and my husband left Active Duty the same month as I did. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do or be at that point. Having flown in combat (I deployed as a Mission Commander/Tactical Coordinator shortly after 9/11 to the Middle East) I was now a full-time stay at home mom with a spouse who was always gone for work. I felt guilty for wanting to work when I could be home. I went back to the Navy to finish my career and this second time around (retirement) I gave myself permission to breathe and take some time to figure out what works best for me!
What did your company do to help ease the transition, and how have you felt supported working here?
Not applicable to me, as a one woman show! As for the teaching aspect, I was recruited by a fellow veteran to teach and it has been very smooth. He has become my mentor (unofficially) at the university.
Do you believe your military background has provided you with any unique perspectives or talents that aid your career today?
Absolutely! I joined the Navy at age 17 and it has solidified my core values. I was able to have responsibility at a very young age that I know I wouldn’t have had in corporate America at the same age. Plus, that responsibility was yielded under very stressful situations. It allows me to now take a moment to reflect and observe most situations in life, my business or my teaching.
What’s the first (and/or last) thing you do at work every day?
First thing I do is communicate. Since I work from home, I check my messages and emails and take care of those ASAP. Anything that is easy to respond to gets done right away. Then I can move into work that requires my creativity. At the end of the day I review what is on my schedule for the next day, make a list of priorities and walk away to spend time with family.
What about outside of work — how do you most enjoy spending your time?
Watching my kids grow up. I don’t have them at home for too many more years, so I am really embracing all the activities and growth they are going through. I also started taking tennis lessons when I retired! I have a standing lesson with nearly all the women that started in my group and they have become awesome friends.
What’s the one career move you’ve made that you’re most proud of?
Starting my own business! It’s totally out of the norm for me but I wanted to try something new and something that isn’t easy.
What’s your #1 piece of advice for women, and especially other women veterans, who are looking for jobs right now?
Do what you want to do, not what others think you should do. Trying to figure out where you would fit best in the civilian world is not always easy but if you take the time to reflect on what you enjoy doing, and what you are good at, you can find what works for you.