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: Heidi Radkiewicz
What: Stay at home mom/wife
Where: Chicago suburbs
How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
I am a stay at home mom and have been for the past 13 years but prior to that I was a personal trainer.
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?
I didn’t find any challenges going from the military to being a personal trainer. I knew I needed training/school so I did it and then I put my resume out there. I think having the military experience was beneficial when I was looking for a job.
What did your company do to help ease the transition, and how have you felt supported working here?
They didn’t do anything and I didn’t expect them to. That is not a part of their job. They treated me like anyone else and I think that’s exactly what they should’ve done.
Do you believe your military background has provided you with any unique perspectives or talents that aid your career today?
If I have something to get done, I look at it like it’s a mission (just as we had missions when we were in Iraq) and I figure out what I need to do in order to complete the mission successfully and on time. My military background has helped me with structure and organization. I keep my house very organized and I love structure. A chaotically run household will only bring chaos into your life which can cause anxiety and stress. Kids also thrive on structure and discipline. A lot of parents, in today’s society, want to be their kids’ friends. Your kids don’t need you to be their friends, they need you to be their parents. We have 18 short years to raise them until they go out into the real world.
What’s the first (and/or last) thing you do at work every day?
First thing I do is make my kids their school lunches, make sure they get ready for school, eat breakfast, and then drive them to school. The last thing I do (as a stay at home mom) is say prayers as a family and tuck our children into bed.
What’s the one career move you’ve made that you’re most proud of?
Becoming a stay at home mom so I can raise my children, take care of my husband, and my house.
What about outside of work — how do you most enjoy spending your time?
I love spending time with my family, playing with our crazy Belgian Malanois dog, doing YOGA, working out, cooking healthy meals, and generally enjoying life.
What’s your #1 piece of advice for women, and especially other women veterans, who are looking for jobs right now?
If you’re a mom and you’re able to, stay at home and raise your children. They need you right now and it’s the most important job in this world. My children actually thank me for staying at home and I have a 14 and almost 13 year old. My husband loves that when he leaves the house, for work, he knows everything will be taken care of and doesn’t have to worry/focus on anything except for his job and he knows he will always come home to a home cooked meal and we all sit down together, at the dinner table, for every dinner. That’s not something that happens too often anymore.
For the woman veterans that aren’t mothers or don’t have that option to stay at home: decide what it is you want to do. Do you want to go back to school and further your education or do you want to look for work? There are Veterans programs, from the Veterans Affairs, that can help assist you in both of those things. Use your military experience to your advantage. Companies know that veterans are strong, determined, and hard working people so prove it to them. Treat looking for a job as you would any mission you received in the military. You’re a veteran, don’t sell yourself short, and get out there and do what you need to do!