In All, Community

Author: Lucienne Piper (ACP Senior Operations Associate & Military Spouse)

There are currently more than 600,000 spouses of active duty service members in the US. With
frequent moves, service member deployments and a lack of portable careers, many spouses
struggle to drive their own career paths in a meaningful way. According to a recent Chamber of
Commerce Foundation study, only 57% of military spouses are participating in the labor market
and of those employed, 70% do not believe their education or work experience is being fully
utilized in their current job. But how can MilSpouses focus on their professional development
while also supporting their spouse’s military career? By utilizing the help of a mentor!

Here are five ways that having a mentor can help further your professional growth as a military
spouse:

1. They can help you build a professional network

MilSpouses are accustomed to building a social web quickly when a PCS comes along, but this
doesn’t usually apply as easily to professional networking. A mentor has access to a whole new
network of individuals that may be invaluable to your job search or advancement efforts. A
mentor can also help you to find creative ways to keep in touch with networks you left behind at
your last duty station while also sharing new ways to form connections in your current location.

2. They can help you to understand your strengths and weaknesses

It can be difficult to have an open dialogue with people in your social circle about your
weaknesses. However, understanding places of improvement can be instrumental in advancing
in a meaningful career. A mentor can offer a safe space to discuss your limitations and how to
improve and provide an outside perspective on some weaknesses that you may not have
identified yourself. Alternatively, being able to identify and effectively communicate your
strengths is paramount to highlighting why you should be hired or receive that next level
promotion. A mentor can help guide you in the best ways to showcase the areas where you feel
strongest– your mentor has years of experience in the corporate world and knows what
employers are looking for.

3. They can help you to market yourself more effectively

Frequent moves can create employment barriers, but a mentor can help you find creative ways
to look more marketable to potential employers. Dealing with gaps in your résumé? A mentor
can help you explore other areas you may not have considered, such as how to leverage skills
you gained from volunteer experiences. Having a seasoned professional who can help you
brush up on skills including résumé editing and interview preparation can be extremely helpful in
finding meaningful employment.

4. They can pass on their professional know-how to you

A mentor can help by sharing their professional experiences and real world experiences to help
you move forward with your career goals. They will have insights to your prospective career field and will be able to speak to the difficulties, the roadblocks, and the victories that come with
pursuing your passion. Their professional expertise and advice can make the difference in
overcoming the stigmas against military spouses that often prevent us from obtaining
meaningful employment.

5. They can act as a sounding board

Military life comes with a lot of difficult decisions and sometimes finding an impartial audience
can be even more difficult. A mentor not only comes with lots of experience to help guide you,
but can be the nonpartisan opinion you need when making a tough call in your career.

MilHousing Network and American Corporate Partners are proud to collaboratively work
together in support of military spouse professional development opportunities. Active duty
spouses, visit https://www.acp-usa.org/spouseapp for a customized, yearlong
mentorship today!

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