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How I Went From the Only Woman in My Military Battalion to Founding a Company | Fairygodboss
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How I Went From the Only Woman in My Military Battalion to Founding a Company
Photo courtesy of Clarizza Paz
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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.

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Who: Clarizza Paz    

What: Owner, Yes I Am Female Vet

Where: Indiana

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How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?

I launched Yes I Am Female Vet in March 2018 to showcase that Females Serve in the Military too. I was active duty Army, Transportation and Logistics Officer from 2010-2017 medically retired then briefly worked for WA state Dept. of Social & Health Services and then a contractor in support of Substance Abuse Prevention for the Army WA National Guard.

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?

My biggest challenge was finding employment. Trained by the Army in logistics, I wanted to be in the health service realm. The help available within my installation (Joint Base Lewis McChord) was: “What was your MOS? Logistics? So that is what you can do.” They didn’t have a path for career switches. My husband, also active duty military, was also transitioning out during my medical board process. Because I was medically boarding, I wasn’t able to find an internship or participate in several programs that really focus on easing a soldier into civilian world. In July 2016, I was notified of the medical board process and by Nov 2016 I was on transitional leave. The whole four month period I was assigned to my unit performing my job, there was no backfill or reassignment or understanding that I needed to be given time off to get my life in order. I had no time to figure out anything; just go, go, go. I used my transitional leave to receive medical care that I was waitlisted for back in June 2016.

Do you believe your military background has provided you with any unique perspectives or talents that aid your career today? 

While I was in service, working in logistics with combat/maneuver units, they always wanted more equipment, funds, time, personnel, more everything. That has been ingrained as a core value of how to work with others, how to always find a way to find the resource and a way to accomplish the given task. 

What’s the first (and/or last) thing you do at work every day? 

Checking social media. Social media is my primary platform of engagement, outreach, and communication with veterans and is my way of helping veterans/current service members. 

What about outside of work — how do you most enjoy spending your time?

We are currently in Bloomington, Indiana, supporting my husband through his last semester of school. We enjoy spending time together as a family watching Indiana University sports and exploring Indiana trails and local events. We have a 3 year old, Catniss, and a 13 year old, Clarice. I enjoy volunteering with my daughter’s school, Tri-North Middle School, as the Nonprofit Parent Teacher Org President and helping AcademyWomen, a Nonprofit providing professional development and mentorship for female service members and veterans.

What’s the one career move you’ve made that you’re most proud of? 

It was the same move, just done multiple times while I served. My first major unit was with 10th Mountain Division, New York. I wanted a platoon, and even though it was with a combat unit, I said I’ll take it! A year later I’d moved and was told the unit is deploying, but not you — you will be in charge of the rear detachment unit. Again I addressed our leadership and said I have done all this training and preparation to deploy; I want to deploy in any capacity. So I was assigned as the Logistics Coordinator for an Infantry Battalion. I was the only female in the company. After the deployment I did the same thing and addressed my leadership that I wanted a transportation role.

What’s your #1 piece of advice for women, and especially other women veterans, who are looking for jobs right now?

Know your worth — it’s far more than you realize. We wear multiple hats, carry multiple additional duties and have held many responsibilities within service. Be aware of which career function speaks most to you. Know what you want to do, what you can do, and how you fit in an organization, and present it as a package.

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