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: Brianna O’Hara
What: Content & Creative Manager, BizLibrary
Where: St. Louis, Missouri
How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
I’ve been with BizLibrary for almost two years now. My previous roles have always been in a marketing function but most recently I was Marketing Director at the Heartland Credit Union Association.
As a military spouse, what are some of the more unique challenges you’ve had to face when it comes to finding and maintaining employment? Are there any obstacles people might not expect?
I’ve been very fortunate to not be faced with many challenges in this regard. All my employers, current and previous, have been very accommodating to flex-scheduling due to my husband being away. I think the obstacles that people might not expect are the most obvious ones like what a drastic shift it is going from being a married mom of three with support from a counterpart to operating as a solo-parent. Also, lines of communication! We take texting, phone calls, and high-speed internet for granted! When your spouse is deployed or on orders in the middle-of-nowhere, those luxuries don’t exist.
How about misconceptions — are there any false beliefs or stereotypes about what it means to be a military spouse that you’ve encountered, especially as it relates to you professionally?
Hmm, I’ve had some weird conversations with co-workers who assume my affiliation to the military automatically makes me pro-guns or a Republican, but nothing specific about the spouse-life.
Do you believe your experience as a military spouse has provided you with any unique perspectives or talents that aid you professionally today?
Being a military spouse has helped me understand that things that go on at work are not life-or-death – it’s just not that serious. Of course, I still want to maintain my determination and have things go as planned, but when they don’t, I can go with the flow.
What’s the one career move you’ve made that you’re most proud of?
The two times I’ve changed jobs it was due to the companies’ refusal to grow their business. I’m a pretty loyal person, so changing employers is not something that I take lightly. It’s always been a difficult and carefully thought out decision. I’m proud to work for a company now that has big growth plans!
What about outside of work — how do you most enjoy spending your time?
I love spending time outdoors with my three daughters, family and friends.
What’s your #1 piece of advice for women, and especially other military spouses, who are looking for jobs right now?
Focus on what is happening now. You cannot predict the future and trying to will drive you nuts! Don’t let what might be in six months dictate your actions now. Educate yourself on your company’s policies and benefits. Be forthcoming with your employer and use FMLA if you need it!